Amplifying the experiences of young people seeking legal representation in Scotland
27 Sep 2023
Earlier this month, Clan Childlaw launched the Alright? animation, which calls attention to the challenges young people face when seeking legal representation.
Claire Lightowler, Project Manager of the Rights in Justice project at Clan Childlaw, details how young people took the lead in creating the impactful animation.
Clan Childlaw is delighted to present the Alright? animation (click here to view) which shows a child’s struggle to find his place within a complex web of rights, laws and support systems. The main character, Malcolm, identifies what could improve things.
The animation was informed by a scoping study (click here to find out more) produced between April and September 2022 which explored the legal needs of children and young people in conflict with the law.
During this work, young people shared their experiences of legal representation and their ideas about what could be improved, with sessions facilitated by Youth Justice Voices (click here for more about Youth Justice Voices). They also shared ideas about the best way of communicating the findings. We agreed that Clan Childlaw should produce a young person’s version of Clan Childlaw’s report (click here to read the report) and explore the possibility of creating a more visual and impactful output.
I approached Braw Talent (click here to visit their website) in November 2022 to talk about options and possibilities, because of their reputation for working with young people to amplify their voices through film making, animations and visual arts.
In liaison with Braw Talent and the project lead for Youth Justice Voices, we agreed that the purpose of the animation was to raise awareness of young people’s experiences and to convey why good legal representation matters. We also aimed to produce something which would encourage the viewer to reflect on their own practice and/or begin thinking about how they might support change in other ways.
The next step was for Braw Talent to work with young people about the story they wanted to tell. Braw Talent worked with Youth Justice Voices, who knew the young people best, to design a process of working with young people which would best work for the young people.
We paid young people for their time where this was possible, though this was not an option for those who were in the Young Offender Institution. Throughout the process young people at times wanted to be involved and at other times didn’t, with new young people joining in and some no longer able to be involved. Tragically, one of the young people involved passed away, and the animation is dedicated to Bella and her determination for change. It took about six months longer than we originally expected it to.
The young people’s ideas were then turned into a script, using recordings of the sessions so that exact words and phrases were used. The draft script was read out loud to the young people, who commented, refining the language, adding jokes and making sure nuances were correctly expressed.
The draft script this was also shared with lawyers at Clan Childlaw to check whether it felt real to them too. They wondered whether the lawyer should be female given the gender of most lawyers working in the Children’s Hearing System and they suggested the use of laptops to take notes, rather than having piles of papers, to reflect what is more likely to happen. The young people had the final say on the content, the look and the feel of the animation, and any reflections from professionals were shared with Braw Talent to explore with young people on the understanding that it was their decision.
Members of Youth Justice Voices, and those who support them, provided the voices for the animation. Everyone had an opportunity to participate in recording the “blah blah blahs” in the opening scene, meaning that literally everyone had a voice.
Once the animation was completed, popcorn-fuelled showings were organised for the young people. They shared how powerfully the animation captured their experiences, they had all been in Malcolm’s shoes. However, they want to know that their voices are being heard and will lead to change.
There are different ways you might use this resource:
· to support conversations with children and young people about rights, remedies when rights are not upheld and the role of lawyers
· at events with professionals to raise awareness of what needs to change
· as a teaching resource in schools, colleges and universities
· in induction processes and in training to explain what good practice looks like
· to support wider system and cultural change activities - particularly for the legal profession, in care and justice settings and to #KeepThePromise.
Please let Clan Childlaw know how you use the resource and the difference it makes to your work. Click here to visit their website: https://www.clanchildlaw.org/alrightanimation/ or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.