Scottish Borders Council “refreshed” the way it listens to young people this week, by launching Scottish Borders Youth Voice (SBYV), which it describes as “a collective voice for young people aged 12-25 years across the region”.
Youth Voice brings together the work of Youth Chex, Youth Voice Teams, Scottish Youth Parliament, Commonwealth Youth Legacy Ambassadors, and the Participation Theme Group, under the management of local authority staff, including a new Youth Voice coordinator.
The council’s participation officer for children and young people, Susan Robb, explained: “Working with young people over the past four years, they have told us they want to be heard by having a stronger voice within the authority and its partners.”
The principles underpinning the service, she continued, are that the voices of young people are “valued, heard and understood” and that “we actively encourage young people to have an informed opinion”.
“All the work of SBYV supports and promotes Article 12 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child,” she added, “where children and young people have the right to have a say in decision-making on matters that affect them.”
Scottish Borders Youth Voice currently has 38 active members, but a council spokesperson said there’s capacity and opportunities for more young people. Those who are interested should email email@example.com or follow @sb_voice on twitter, or like SBYV on Facebook.
Alongside the launch of Scottish Borders Youth Voice on Friday was the declaration of the result of the recent Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) election.
Young people had the opportunity to vote for their representative between March 4-13, with polling stations open in all nine secondary schools and Borders College.
Eleven candidates stood for election for the three places to represent the Borders area – with 7,396 votes cast by 4,675 voters.
Elected to represent the Scottish Borders were: Nicola Pringle from Oxton, Finlay Duff from Bonchester Bridge and Scott Redmond from Hawick.
Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for culture, Sport, youth and communities, expressed her congratulations: “I would like to thank all the candidates who have stood in this election and have enabled so many young people the opportunity to be part of a democratic experience.
“I would like to congratulate those who have been elected, and hope they enjoy the challenges that lie ahead.”
Councillor Sandy Aitchison, executive member for education, thanked the outgoing members, Amber-Louise Masters (Galashiels), Christina Hendry (Hawick), and Andrew McGowan (Eyemouth), who have served the region for the past two years.
Cllr Aitchison said: “Our outgoing SYP members have been excellent ambassadors for our local authority.
“They have demonstrated their experience, enjoyment and challenge of being an elected representative.
“Being a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a learning experience – and I know that our young people have developed skills and knowledge.
“I have had the opportunity to witness these young people develop as effective contributors and responsible citizens.”