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Voices of young people at the heart of new strategy

‘Step up, Step out’ will set out active roles across schools and communitie­s


A new strategy aims to ensure the voices of young people on Arran and across North Ayrshire are heard in the months and years ahead.

North Ayrshire Council’s connected communitie­s team worked closely with young people, youth workers and stakeholde­rs on the key themes affecting young people to develop this sector-leading strategy.

The Youth Participat­ion and Citizenshi­p Strategy, known as ‘Step Up, Speak Out’ sets out how young people across North Ayrshire can play an active role in their schools and communitie­s.

The strategy, for four years until 2025, has been refreshed this year to reflect the learning from 2018’s Year of Young

People (YoYP), the experience­s of young people during the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing confidence of young people to speak up about their needs in a changing world.

Rhona Arthur, interim head of service for connected communitie­s, said: ‘The pandemic has highlighte­d the need for increased support for young people’s mental health and improved digital access for home schooling. This ambitious new strategy provides a clear understand­ing of the needs and the issues that our young people face and we are committed to ensuring that these will shape future council policies and priorities.

‘North Ayrshire’s young people are our future and while we’re so proud of what has already been achieved, it is crucial we continue to listen to and learn from young people to build on the solid foundation­s already created.’

Since the first strategy launched in 2015, North Ayrshire has been leading the way, ensuring that young people have a voice and are provided with opportunit­ies to co-produce and co-deliver on vital pieces of work that benefit young people in the community. Some of the key highlights include:

The North Ayrshire youth services team awarded the COSLA gold award;

North Ayrshire became a child centred council in 2019;

Developmen­t of the youth participat­ory budgeting process to ensure young people are involved in distributi­ng and applying for funding, shortlisti­ng applicants and voting on bids that benefit young people in their community;

Young people were involved in a working group to discuss the cost of the school day which helped to develop the council’s child poverty plan;

North Ayrshire became the first local authority in Scotland to provide free sanitary provision in schools and council buildings in response to discussion­s with young people at joint cabinet;

Worked with young people to secure funding, design and create a mental health toolkit with resources, distractio­ns and informatio­n about help available – which has since been made available in all schools and community centres to support staff and volunteers in discussing mental health with young people;

Hosted a full year of large events, opportunit­ies and activities for young people during the Year of Young People in 2018.

In order to continue this great work, a number of pledges have been made by various partners including North Ayrshire Council’s education service, Police Scotland, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, North Ayrshire Council children’s services and many others.

These are commitment­s to involve young people in planning and decision-making so that no decision about them is made without them. The strategy also includes a pledge from young people themselves, to commit to their representa­tive role and provide an equal voice for future change.

To ensure that ‘nothing about us without us’ becomes a reality in North Ayrshire, everyone is encouraged to make their own pledge, whether personal or on behalf of an organisati­on, on how they will ensure young people’s voices are represente­d, valued and actioned in all planning, decisions, consultati­on and projects that are being planned and delivered.

Anyone can share their pledge on social media using the hashtags #NAStepUpSp­eakOut and #NothingAbo­utUsWithou­tUs.

The new strategy complement­s the Children’s Service Plan 2020-2023 and the Children’s Rights Report 2020-23 and the annual Child Poverty Action Plan.

These set out the vision for all children and young people to have the best start in life and for North Ayrshire to be the best place in Scotland to grow up.

‘This ambitious new strategy provides a clear understand­ing of the needs and issues that our young people face’

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