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Remember to ask children and young people when making decisions that affect them

Ellie and Scarlett, from our new advisory group 'Changing Our World' reflect on our recent members’ event – and why including children's voices is vital

On Tuesday 19th September, we attended a networking event for people who are important in children's lives, including charity workers, leaders of organisations and educators. The purpose of the event was to bring together people with different work backgrounds and let them see the wonderful work Children in Scotland has been doing, and to launch the rebranding.

The advisory group’s role at the event was to inform people about us, and the work we have done and hope to do. We achieved this by setting up a question box for the attendees to choose from, testing their knowledge of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and its protocol, as well as getting them to write the issues they believed to be ‘hot topics’ for young children on paper aeroplanes.

To find out more, we interviewed some of the attendees and asked them about youth engagement in their line of work. The questions we asked were “Do you think it is important to ask children and young people before making a decision that will affect them?”, “When was the last time you did this?”, and “Did what the child or young person say affect what you did?”

The first person we interviewed was a social worker, who has travelled and worked in areas of dire poverty where children had been living on the streets. He took action by asking the young people themselves what they wanted and worked to answer these requests, creating what we believe to be the best outcome possible.

After this we decided it would be worthwhile to hear the story from another perspective, so we went and spoke to a fellow member of the advisory group, Martha, to see if her personal experience matched up with what we had heard. She told us that she feels there are adults in her life that she can speak to if she wants to have her voice heard. As well as this she told us, “I have more control over issues that affect me since joining the group”, which is something that we also both feel, creating a lot of hope for the future of it.

However, whilst there is some brilliant work being done, as was showcased by the event, there is still room for improvement. An example of this was the fact that out of the seventeen people we interviewed, seven participants (around 40%) couldn’t remember the last time they had asked a child before making a decision that affected them.

This, to me, highlighted the fact that while we are all definitely moving in the right direction towards increasing youth engagement, especially with the creating of more groups like ours, we must never forget the importance of remembering to ask children first.

Ellie and Scarlett – Members of Children in Scotland's Changing Our World children and young people's advisory group.

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