THE appointment of the Borders’ civic head to the prestigious post of children and young people’s champion at Scottish Borders Council has been welcomed by youngsters involved in helping redraft the job profile, writes Mark Entwistle.
At their October session, SBC councillors voted 18-11 in favour of installing council convener, Graham Garvie (Tweeddale East, LD) in the role.
The losing candidate was opposition Conservative group leader, Michelle Ballantyne (Selkirkshire), who has spent most of her adult life involved with children’s services and youth groups.
But councillors backing Mr Garvie’s selection felt the holder of the position needed to be someone with a high local profile.
The children’s champion has a key role to play in promoting the rights of children and young people, especially those who are most vulnerable, including looked-after children, young carers, and children and young people with disability.
However, this time round, the council also approved a new role profile, based on the results of a working group set up in partnership with local young people.
The working group came about after several young people from the Berwickshire HYPPE (Helping Young People Participate and Engage) Panel wrote to council leader David Parker (Leaderdale and Melrose, Ind) last year, requesting a review of the role, to increase accountability and make it more meaningful.
Berwickshire HYPPE Panel members, Sarah Gray and Kate Leigh – both are sixth year pupils at Berwickshire High School – were members of the Children’s Champion Review Working Group.
Sarah told TheSouthern this week she hoped Mr Garvie would be a “true champion” for local young people.
“I hope he will get involved with services and organisations that work with young people and give them a voice in Scottish Borders Council,” she commented.
Fellow HYPPE Panel member, Kate Leigh, also told us she has high hopes that Mr Garvie’s appointment will be successful and benefit the area’s young people and children.
“I haven’t had the chance to meet Councillor Garvie yet, but I know he has an interest in the work of the members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, and has experience of working with young people in the Borders,” she said this week.
“I believe he will be quite passionate about working with young people, and for us that is a good thing.
“I hope he will make it easier for young people to be in touch and get involved with Scottish Borders Council.”
Speaking after his appointment, Mr Garvie, said he was delighted to be the new children and young people’s champion.
“I am looking forward to working in the newly revised role to support the rights of our children and young people in the Borders, ensuring that their voice is heard so that we can make a genuine difference in their lives,” he said.
Mr Parker also welcomed Mr Garvie’s appointment, saying: “I am delighted that changes to the role and remit, which came from the young people themselves, have been agreed for the children and young people’s champion and that Councillor Garvie has been appointed to this role,” he said.
“These changes and Councillor Garvie’s lead will truly make a difference.”