Saturday, 16 November 2013

'Straight talking' on youth issues

North Ayrshire Council has held the latest of its ‘straight-talking’ meetings, with young people asked their opinion on the theme of ‘Making North Ayrshire the best place to grow up’.

Held last Monday (November 4), the audience of 90 people was made up of representatives from organisations that work with children, including Parent Councils, nursery and toddler groups, and community associations.  Staff from the Council’s Leisure and Education departments were also present, along with private sector operators of local initiatives delivering dance, art and activity centres.

The young people who took part were chosen by local youth workers because they have been involved in the community.  Three of the Council’s youth work apprentices took centre-stage to lead one of the workshops entitled ‘Are we listening to our young people?’  Included in the discussion was the operation of the Scottish Youth Parliament and, more locally, the joint Cabinet Meeting Structure where young people regularly meet senior SNP councillors to talk about matters that directly affect them.

Another workshop on the night examined how to make North Ayrshire more family-friendly.

The keynote speech was delivered by Jim Sweeney, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland.  Commenting on the ‘straight-talking’ meeting, Mr Sweeney said, “This was an exciting and bold initiative.  Young people need to be engaged with and listened to if they are to see themselves as part of wider society.  This was a great opportunity to make progress.”

Cllr Willie Gibson, SNP Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said the outcomes from the meeting would be used to “shape our policy and procedures for ensuring young people in North Ayrshire are given the best start in life,” adding, “Early years provision and early intervention is also one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities.”

Cllr Ruth Maguire, the Council’s Youth Champion, noted, “This was a good example of how serious our administration is about listening to young people.  I was pleased to see such a diversity of views from a wide range of young people on the night.”

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