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Nicola Killean: “Children and young people give us the fuel to do our work”

Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Nicola Killean, will co-chair the first day of our upcoming Annual Conference 2024, sharing duties with a member of our young people’s advisory group, Changing our World (CoW).

Ahead of the flagship event, which will be held on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 May at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, here, Nicola shares insight into her new role as Commissioner, discussing the importance of participation and engagement to ensure young people’s voices are heard and acted upon.

I've been lucky throughout my career to work with children and young people across a really wide age range, engaging with babies and toddlers right through to young adults and school leavers.

Having this opportunity at Sistema Scotland, and through the Big Noise programme (click here for more), has given me an amazing perspective around the importance of ensuring children feel included. My previous experience helps keep my focus as Commissioner broad, but I recognise the importance of always doing targeted work too, particularly engaging with children whose rights are most at risk. When I started the job in August last year, one of my top priorities – and duty – was to continue listening to children and young people, using their insights to shape the work we’ll do over the next six years because, after all, I work for them and their rights.

It's only by really listening to children and young people articulate the truth about what they're experiencing every day, and what they're experiencing within our different systems, that we are able to understand where we have made progress, where we should celebrate, and where the work still has to be done.

Children and young people are amazing at helping us face challenges head on – they are so insightful, and so full of suggestions about ways we can make things better, so the more we can tap into that knowledge, connecting the dots and ensuring decision making is influenced by their insight, the better.

Although children and young people  face many challenges right now – poverty, mental health, education, discrimination and climate change are just a few of the issues children and young people have highlighted to us – it's also a very optimistic time. After  decades of campaigning, the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is now being incorporated into Scots law (click here for more), marking a landmark moment for children’s rights across all areas of law and policy. The opportunities presented by UNCRC are huge, and it will be my role to bridge the gap between children, their rights and views, and the key duty-bearers who have the responsibility of delivering incorporation.

I was drawn to this role by a combination of being a real champion for children and young people, and a drive to make sure their rights are protected, respected, and fulfilled. And while shouting from the rooftops about how capable and amazing they are, we can also continue to focus on raising the bar to improve their lives.

I always say that children and young people give us the fuel to continue to do our work, to fight for things to be better. So, the more that we can be with them, listen to them, and draw on their insight, the stronger we will be.

For the latest information on the Annual Conference 2024 programme, click here to visit our hub

To buy tickets, click here to visit our Eventbrite page – and don't forget, Children in Scotland members receive an exclusive discount!

About the Author

Nicola Killean is the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

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Annual Conference 2024

Join us on 29 & 30 May at Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

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Our membership offer

Be part of the largest national children's sector membership organisation in Scotland

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Participation and engagement work

Find out more about how we embed the inclusion and participation of children and young people in our work

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Find out more about Enquire, the national advice and information service for additional support for learning

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The website for young people offers advice and support on accessing their rights

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