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Youth Advisory Group launched as part of Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan

26 April 2022


Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) is launching a youth advisory group to inform and improve policy from the perspective of those with lived experience.

Established by the Scottish Government and COSLA, NSPLG brings together people with lived experience of suicide alongside, academic, professional third sector, and statutory partners to support the delivery of Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters.

Stephanie Craig, a member of NSPLG’s Lived Experience Panel (22) comments:

“The news of the NSPLG launching a youth advisory group is incredible. Lived experience provides valuable knowledge and insight from people who have direct experience in such sensitive areas.

“Lived experience helps to drive and lead positive change. It allows space for valuable and powerful conversations and it raises awareness and influences policies. We've seen that with the lived experience panel, a group of incredibly brave people who have come together to do this, and our work has been recognised by the World Health Organisation

“Children and young people are under-heard, not listened to and often disbelieved by society due to their age. They are often underrepresented and due to their age not seen as having enough life experience to pass comment on important topics affecting their life. Children and young people have a unique and powerful perspective because of their age and experiences and we need to listen to them now more than ever. Children and young people are our future, they have a voice and need to be heard."

National charity Children in Scotland is partnering with the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) at the University of Stirling to recruit, host and manage the new Youth Advisory Group. They will assemble a panel of 12 young people aged 16 to 25 who will meet regularly for an initial period of 11 months to gather and share views to inform future policy.

The launch of the youth advisory group follows the successful establishment of an adult ‘Lived Experience Panel’ set up in 2018-19 to inform the development of NSPLG’s action plan.

Recognised by the World Health Organisation as an example of best practice, NSPLG is hopeful that the youth advisory group is the credible next step to listening to, understanding and responding to those with lived experience, and also a critical move in helping to address the escalating rates of youth suicide in Scotland.

NSPLG member and children and young people sponsor Fiona Drouet, who founded charity EmilyTest following the death of her daughter said:

“I’m delighted after many months of hard work and commitment that we are now seeing the launch of the Youth Advisory group.  As we know, statistics show a worrying trend of suicide increasing amongst children and young people. We need to listen to them to fully understand the numerous complex challenges they face and the Youth Advisory will provide a safe and meaningful platform where they can help shape the future of suicide prevention in Scotland.  ‘Nothing for them, without them,’ is a phrase I cite often.  I am privileged to play a part in this revolutionary work.”

The appointment of the youth advisory group aligns with NSPLG’s overriding approach of bringing together academic rigour, lived experience and professional practice to understand the causes of suicide and develop the most effective strategies to support its prevention. This work is underpinned by the belief that no suicide should ever be considered inevitable.

Children in Scotland brings extensive experience of working with young people to ensure their views are heard and that they have the opportunity to be meaningfully involved in decision-making.

Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects & Participation at Children in Scotland said:

“'It is a privilege to be supporting the development of this new and important Youth Advisory Group. The group illustrates our shared commitment to putting the views and experiences of children and young people at the heart of decision making.  It is vital that young people's views on suicide prevention are heard and they have the chance to use their lived experience to improve future policy making in this area.  We are really looking forward to working with group members and together with University of Stirling and the Leadership Group, making it a rewarding and positive experience for everyone.”

The Chief Scientist Office (for Scotland) funded Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) at the University of Stirling has focused on mental health and suicide research for more than 20 years.

Dr Lynne Gilmour, Research Fellow in the NMAHP-RU, is co-Principal Investigator on the group.  She said:

"We are incredibly proud to be working with Children in Scotland to host and manage the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group's Youth Advisory Group.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in children and we are determined to ensure that the voices of young people are heard as part of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

“Listening to young people is vitally important to ensure that the objectives of the plan are meaningful and helpful to children and young people who may need to access help and support for suicidal thoughts and or behaviours.”

The group also benefits from the oversight and management from Professor Margaret Maxwell and Professor Helen Cheyne, both NMAHP-RU at Stirling, with extensive experience of conducting and managing research in relation to suicide and mental health more generally.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care said:

“I am pleased to see the launch of the suicide prevention youth advisory group.

“The Scottish Government sees the incredible value of listening directly to people with lived experience of mental health challenges, to help shape and design our policies and approaches.

“I encourage young people to get involved in this unique group, which I’m confident will help to identify what works well, and what we must do to go further, to reduce suicide deaths in Scotland.”

A spokesperson for COSLA said:

“COSLA is delighted to see the Youth Advisory Group for the NSPLG launch. We believe it will have a pivotal role in ensuring we are hearing and responding to young people and their family’s needs in the national approach to preventing suicide. We are looking forward to working with Children in Scotland and the University of Stirling and making Scotland a great place for children to grow up.”

The launch of the new advisory group comes in the wake of a 2019 review of suicide prevention policy (click here to read) by the University of Stirling and NMAHP-RU which found that policy wasn’t meeting the needs of children and young people. An increasing ask from services is that policy reflects the experience of and the needs of children and young people.


Notes for editors

Media contacts

NSPLG – Lawrence Broadie, / 07966 216 270
Children in Scotland – Catherine Bromley, / 07843 626 042
University of Stirling – Greg Christison, / 07778 442 151


Profiles of organisations and project leads

National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG)

The National Suicide Prevention Group was established by the Scottish Government to support delivery of Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP), Every Life Matters.

Click here to learn more:

Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

Over the 27 years of our existence, we have built up considerable expertise in working with children and young people to ensure their views are heard and they have the opportunity to be meaningfully involved in decision making. Our participation work has won awards and has been commissioned internationally. All participation staff are trained in child protection, child rights and are supported by robust consent, safeguarding and participation policies and guidance.

We have developed a high quality, safe, robust, and creative methodology for participation and engagement work, grounded in child rights and equalities. It has considerable experience in hosting, managing, and supporting youth advisory groups for the Scottish Government on a variety of topics. This has included the Inclusion Ambassadors, the COVID Recovery Panel, Education Recovery Youth Panel (with Young Scot) the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe (with Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights).

University of Stirling

Ranked among the UK’s 40 best universities in the Complete University Guide, the University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity (Research Excellence Framework). Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 20 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 10 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.
More than 17,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 120 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The campus – also home to 1,700 staff – has its own loch and castle, and a recent multi-million-pound redevelopment has delivered modern, flexible, and digitally connected study and social spaces at the heart of campus, including enhanced student support and retail and catering outlets.
The University has twice been recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019). Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and its recently redeveloped world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University’s sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

As a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the University is driving productivity and inclusive growth across the Forth Valley, and beyond. Through pioneering collaborative solutions to global challenges, researchers are putting innovation, skills, and partnership at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery. / @stiruni

Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit

The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU) is a multidisciplinary national research unit, funded by the Scottish Government Health Directorate Chief Scientist Office (CSO). It has academic bases within Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling. It is led by Professor Margaret Maxwell whose research has focused on mental health and suicide research for more than 20 years.

The NMAHP-RU has an excellent track record for patient and public involvement (PPI) in shaping both the strategic direction of the Unit and in contributing to our research topics and how we conduct research.

Dr Lynne Gilmour provides the youth advisory group with an expert insight into suicide in young people, having recently completed a PhD exploring the experiences and journeys of care for children who are referred to CAMHS for reasons of suicidality. As part of this work, she led an international scoping review of suicide prevention policies. The 2019 study found that the needs of suicidal children are at risk of being overlooked due to gaps in policy and inconsistencies in how the issue is approached globally.

The group also benefits from the oversight and management from Professor Maxwell and Professor Helen Cheyne, both NMAHP-RU at Stirling, with extensive experience of conducting and managing research in relation to suicide and mental health more generally.

Every Life Matters

Find out more about Scottish Government's suicide prevention strategy

Click here to read

Our Manifesto for 2021-26

We're calling for improvements in services and support for children and young people

Click here to find out more

Evidence bank

A unique resource directly capturing the voices of children and young people

Click here to visit the site

Support from SAMH

Suicide prevention advice and support from Scotland's Mental Health charity, SAMH

Click here to find out more

Pandemic Impact Survey Report 2022

The report from the Scottish Parliament's CPG on Children and Young People

Click here for more

Manifesto launches with calls for wellbeing to be at heart of Scottish budget and children protected from air pollution

13 November 2020

Children in Scotland today launches its Manifesto for the 2021-26 Scottish Parliament, backed by national and local organisations from across the children’s sector.

The Manifesto outlines key changes in policy and legislation the charity believes the next Scottish Government must make to improve outcomes for children and young people living in Scotland, and their families.

Click here to download a copy of the Manifesto

It contains 10 themes and 33 calls, with demands of political parties including:

Drawing on the experience in Finland to introduce a ‘hobby premium’ to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have free access to a hobby or activity of their choice within or around the school day.

Rights and democracy
Supporting Citizens Assemblies to extend their scope to include the voice and perspectives of under-16s.

Economic planning
Producing a comprehensive Wellbeing Budget by 2022 to ensure that the annual Scottish budget is designed and implemented with the goal of improving the wellbeing of all citizens in Scotland, including children, young people and families.

Improving air quality in locations where children live, learn and play: a school air quality monitoring and education scheme should be introduced to measure air quality, educate children and families about this issue, and reduce children’s exposure to harmful pollutants.

Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“Our Manifesto is being launched at the end of a punishing year for so many children and families, but we feel there’s a shared recognition that this is also a time for a radical change in direction for policymaking and legislation.

“We now need a deeper and more wholehearted restructuring of society, based on redistributing power to children, young people and families who’ve never had it before. Taken together the calls in this Manifesto make that case.”

Amy Woodhouse, the charity’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“This Manifesto builds on three examples of hugely significant policy change in Scotland over the past year – the recommendations of the Independent Care Review, the introduction of the Equal Protection Act, and the promise of full incorporation of the UNCRC.

“These are all powerful signs of the effectiveness of collective campaigning to make change for children, and we’ll be taking forward our 2021-26 Manifesto in that spirit.

“In the run-up to the election as we use this Manifesto to influence parties’ policy platforms, we will welcome the support and solidarity of other organisations who may wish to endorse our calls.”

Organisations who have already endorsed the Manifesto in full include Save the Children, Children 1st, YouthLink Scotland, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid), Includem, Play Scotland, Starcatchers, the Health and Social Care Alliance and the Yard.

Organisations that have signed up to specific themes include the Children’s Parliament (Theme 1), Friends of the Earth Scotland (Theme 9), Place2Be (Themes 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10) and the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (Themes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10).

The Manifesto was shared yesterday with Children in Scotland’s members, and attendees at the charity’s online annual conference.

It has been developed over the past 18 months with input from Children in Scotland’s members, its children and young people’s advisory group, and its staff and Board.

Media contacts

Chris Small:

Catherine Bromley:

Photography from the Manifesto is available to publish on request. Please contact Chris Small or Catherine Bromley.

2021-26 Manifesto: PDF version

Download a PDF booklet of the Manifesto to read our themes and calls

Click to download the PDF

2021-26 Manifesto: Page Suite version

Read our themes and calls on the Page Suite digital platform with 'flickable' pages

Click to read on Page Suite

2021-26 Manifesto: Young People's Version

A short, child-friendly version and summary of all our themes and calls

Click to download it

Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing

Dr Katherine Trebeck's report informs many of our Manifesto themes

Click to download the report

Manifesto Magazine

Contributors from across the sector tell us why they're endorsing our Manifesto in this special edition

Click to read the magazine

A plan for renewal not simply recovery

Amy Woodhouse explains the approach we took to compiling the Manifesto

Click to read Amy's blog

Changing our World

Our young people's advisory group have been key to shaping the Manifesto

Click to find out more

UK Government Manifesto

In December 2019 we launched a children's manifesto for the new UK Government

Click to find out more

Child protection procedures ‘should be standardised’ across all Scottish hospitals

Children in Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Brock has today called for standardised child protection procedures across all Scottish hospitals in order to prevent more child deaths.

She also suggested that Fife Council conduct a thorough and independent review of its child protection service.

Her call follows the sentencing today of Gordon McKay for the culpable homicide of five-month-old Hayley Davidson in Fife.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Ms Brock said:

“What really concerned me is that Hayley was seen and had significant bruising and injuries to her body that weren’t picked up.

“When you have a child as young as Hayley who can’t express or articulate injury and pain, you have to be looking at the evidence. You have to be thoroughly x-raying her body to ensure it is safe for her to go home.”

Welcoming the change of protocol in Fife, instigated following a number of child deaths in the area, Ms Brock called for more thorough child protection measures to be standard in every Scottish hospital.

“We welcome Fife’s changed protocol but this shouldn’t be decided individually by each hospital. It should be standard procedure in every hospital,” she said, urging the sharing of resources and expertise across the country if required.

In the wake of Hayley’s death, Ms Brock also said it may be time for an official review of Fife’s child protection services.

“I would suggest the time is right for Fife to call in the inspectors and ask for a thorough overview of what is happening with their child protections services. Liam Fee, Hayley and the others deserve no less.”

Child protection training and more ...

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