#YOYP2018 in Aberdeenshire where #youthworkchangeslives

At Aberdeenshire Council, teams across community learning and development, social work, education and cultural services have come together with young people from across the local area to celebrate the Year of Young People in a very special and engaging way. 

As part of ‘I Will Week’ the council recently pledged to enable young people, wherever they live and whatever their background, to have access to social action. 

Youth Voice Matters is Aberdeenshire’s online youth work publication which supports the young people by valuing their commitment and contribution to our communities. Updates on their activities are provided by members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, #YOYP2018 ambassadors, members of the Aberdeenshire Youth Fourm, community youth platforms and specific youth groups as well as youth practitioners. Our youth work team is also on Twitter and Facebook @WWYPAbshire. 

Young performers at our Turriff Youth Fest event in November highlighted the importance of young people having opportunities to express themselves. The event was a co-designed by young people and youth workers, gained the support of a number of local businesses and involved our Youth Forum as well as members of the Scottish Youth Parliament. They engaged local young people on a variety of matters including drugs, alcohol, transport and youth rights coming up at a local and national level, as well as enjoying some great local youth music talent. 

Health and wellbeing was highlighted as a big issue in Aberdeenshire. Young people with the support of council services focused on this issue at the Mearns Mental Health and the Garioch Mind Your Health events. The LGBTQI+ event in Alford focused on LBGTQI+ issues which are again important #YOYP2018 themes. In Peterhead, young people engaged in a community consultation event the ‘BLUE TOON IS YOUR TOON’.

Aberdeenshire’s Year of Young People efforts have also focused on capturing Youth Voices which have been shared widely on social media. Sisters Cait, Ellie and Annie Lennox give a flavor of what it’s like to grow up in Aberdeenshire and the local music they’re so proud of through song.
 
This year has also seen young people given a platform at councillors’ committee meetings on more than one occasion. Aberdeenshire councillors endorsed a charter which recognises young people's rights in September. It has been made available in Doric as well as English, recognising young people’s strong affiliation with the local dialect. The Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) were invited to comment on all Education and Children’s Services Committee papers as well.

Provost of Aberdeenshire, Cllr Bill Howatson, commented: "This charter is a fantastic demonstration of Aberdeenshire Council's commitment to Children's Rights. Children and young people deserve to feel empowered and have their views heard, and this charter plays an important part in achieving this aim in Aberdeenshire."

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, added: “Here in Aberdeenshire, the Year of Young People 2018 has been a fantastic celebration of the role young people play in our community. The Education and Children’s Services Committee has been impressed with the enthusiasm that the Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and Year of Young People 2018 #YOYP2018 Ambassadors have shown in understanding and playing a part in Aberdeenshire Council business.”

This came before councillors agreed a paper focusing on the importance of engaging with parents and carers in achieving better outcomes for children and young people. Our emphasis on enhancing opportunities for family learning will continue in 2019. 

The largest event in Aberdeenshire Council's Year of Young People #YOYP2018 calendar took place at Haddo House and Country Park during September with a free Mash Up Festival, open to all.

Young people were bussed in from every corner of Aberdeenshire to enjoy their very own cultural festival including more than 30 local acts. A large marquee and main stage played host to bands and DJs while the set up in Haddo's Canadian Barn showcased a diverse range of talent including Doric poetry, pipe bands, singer songwriters and dance troupes.

The event also delivered everything from street football and zorbing to a ball pit and even a bike track. Young performers, all aged 8 – 25, had the opportunity to busk around Haddo Country Park as well as being part of a full festival line up on the main stages.

Lots of events have taken place throughout the year organised by young people themselves with the support of our Youth Work team. Young people from across Deeside had the chance to put their talents on show at a Deeside Youth Display event in Aboyne and an extremely successful I-Con comic book convention took place in Inverurie.

An awards ceremony to celebrate the success of our care experienced young people also took place in September as part of the #YOYP2018 events programme. Led by social workers and hosted by Olympic athlete Hannah Miley, it offered a special opportunity for those who have been or currently are in the council's care to gain recognition for their achievements.

The event enjoyed a great reaction from the senior management and elected members who attended as well as the young people themselves. Lauren Barrie, winner of the Inspirational Young Person Award added: “It’s very important to care experienced young people for our corporate parents to recognise us and be proud! The night was amazing….to be a winner also felt very rewarding as it felt like people recognised what I do and how passionate I am about making a difference.”

Our focus on the importance of engaging with young people, recognising their rights and encouraging their participation in decisions that affect them will continue into 2019. An event is planned for February in Oldmeldrum to recognise the many young volunteers and colleagues who have made the year such a success. A creative competition is now also running across Aberdeenshire to encourage young people to think about: ‘If young people had the power to make Scotland a country for young people, what would that look like?’ The event in February will showcase the winning entries, and offer a chance to reflect on what we’ve learned from #YOYP2018.