The Scottish Rural and Islands Youth Parliament ‘23 took place on the 1st of November 2023 at Caol Community Centre in Fort William. It was an inspiring gathering that brought together young voices from rural and island Scotland to discuss what truly matters. Through a series of workshops and World Café sessions, youth delegates came up with a number of priorities that were presented to Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon.
Priorities presented by youth delegates to Ms Gougeon include:
- ARTS & CULTURE – “We would like to ask the Scottish Government to give arts and culture the proper recognition as a tool for community development and building community resilience through ringfencing funding for local authorities to create a robust network of community development staff who can use and celebrate the arts.”
- SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT – “We want sustainable transport which works and is up to date and fit for purpose across all areas of Scotland.”
- SKILLS, EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT – “We want a youth led reform of education, where we measure educational success with youth wellbeing, not attainment, and offer life experience and the freedom to choose.”
- HOUSING – “The housing market needs reformed to meet the needs of all people in rural and island communities now! By implementing policy that disempowers the private sector and empowers communities.”
- EQUITY & ACCESSIBILITY – “Listening with purpose within schools and acting with sincerity, utilising pupils’ voices to bring about compromise and change.”
- MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING – “Improve the current system with empathetic interventions including recognition and management of symptoms rather than medical diagnosis, creating social support spaces and places, and funding proven methods/solutions tailored to specific age groups.”
- LAND, ENVIRONMENT AND NATURE – “There is a lack of long term commitment to our rural and islands environment that enables and prioritises rural community agency alongside nature regeneration. Therefore, we want a government funding cycle that matches the long term vision and regulation on the financialisation of nature.”
- AGRICULTURE AND FOOD – “Supermarkets to have a target imposed that a percentage of produce must be offered for sale from their region to reduce food miles and carbon costs, and promote food security, recognising quality and high welfare standards of Scottish produce.”
- YOUNG CARERS – “As young carers we ask you to commit to funding out of school support such as carer’s centres. We want to be seen, heard and supported in our local communities.”
- PARTICIPATION, LEADERSHIP – “We want you (Mairi) to be our spokesperson at Scottish Parliament by publicly demonstrating what you learn and what actions you will take following this Rural and Islands Youth Parliament.”
The next step in this process will be a parliamentary debate on the 19th of January 2024. Ms Gougeon will host the debate which will discuss the priorities set out during the SRIYP 2023.
You can find out more information about the SRIYP here – The Scottish Rural & Islands Youth Parliament 2023 (srip.scot)
Illustration by Eddy Laurie.