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News: Co-created resource offers advice on navigating youth justice system

Posted 28 January, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

A new website, launched by the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ), is intended to help children, young people and families navigate the criminal justice system using the voices and experiences of young people.

‘Just the Right Space’ was co-created with young people who have experience of the justice and care system. It offers information and advice about the criminal justice system and what to expect, children’s rights, stories shared by those with experience of the justice and care systems and where to look for further support.

Reaching a wider audience

The intention is that the site will benefit a wide audience and will be especially of use to those who may not be familiar with the justice system.

Fiona Dyer, Director of CYCJ, said:

“We are excited to share this new website that we hope will help children, young people and those supporting them, better understand the justice system, who can help, and the rights they’re entitled to. CYCJ is committed to working with and not just for children and young in conflict with the law. Whilst this has included adapting our research into child-friendly formats, we are aware that our website is not accessible to those who may not have knowledge of the justice system and associated terminology.

“By working with young people from the very start of this creative process, we hope we have designed a website that will help a wider and younger audience understand what it is we do at CYCJ, why we do it, and access information that can help them with their journey through the journey system.”

Co-creation: ‘I wasn’t just a box-ticking exercise’

Paul was one of the people sharing his experience to help build the site. He said:

“Working on this project has been an interesting experience. Having the opportunity to share my ideas right from the start meant I felt fully involved and included, and reassured me that I wasn’t just being asked my views as part of a box-ticking exercise.

“More projects should be done like this – including young people with experience of the systems in the project from start to finish – as it means the result will be something that really works for young people, and not just what professionals think might work.”

Resources and support information

Along with the inclusion of first-hand experiences, the new website includes a number of resources, including adaptations of CYCJ’s ground-breaking research on children’s rights in the justice system and the UNCRC, as well guides to the Scottish justice system and young people’s rights in custody.

It also signposts to groups people can get involved with to influence change in the justice and care system and organisations offering support.

Click here to visit the Just the Right Space website 

CYCJ is keen to receive any feedback on the website, including anything that is missing or needs to change. 

Open door policy: Supporting the museums sector to engage with a younger audience

The Living Museums project has showcased the potential of the museums sector and its value to young adults. But, to fulfill its legacy, there needs to be systematic change in how the sector engages with this demographic, writes Chris Ross 

We know the value that cultural opportunities have for children and young people. They provide opportunities to learn and have fun. However, we also know that museums struggle to engage young people between the ages of 14 and 21.

The Living Museums project has provided Children in Scotland with an opportunity to explore how museums can improve their engagement with this age group and ensure the potential of what the sector has to offer are fully realised.  

The project brought together three groups of young people in Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross and Stirling with the aim of finding new ways to engage with those in the 14-21 demographic. We supported them to work directly with museum partners to develop a final exhibition on a topic chosen by the young people. 

Across the three project areas, the participating young people worked on topics highlighted as important to them. This included youth unemployment, mental health and the impact of covid-19, as well as contemporary collecting. Their work supported museums to learn from varied groups and share different ideas. Having these opportunities has encouraged the participating young people to take a greater interest in the sector and even consider future job opportunities.  

Recognising opportunities

It is important to begin by recognising that museums have many key assets in place to engage with young people.

The spaces provide unique opportunities for learning. We know how much young people valued the opportunity to engage with and influence the work museums are undertaking. They also had hugely positive experiences of engaging with committed staff who wanted to learn from the young people to ensure that change happens in the sector.

However, both practitioners and young people involved in the project felt that opportunities for young people to influence and shape museums are still not embedded within the sector. As a result, there is a risk of limited change due to a lack of structure to support future work.  

Embedding meaningful engagement and supporting delivery

It is clear that museums need to embed similar co-design approaches to those used in the Living Museums project to increase levels of engagement from young people. This needs to be meaningful, ongoing and young person led, with autonomy to cover the topics they want to focus on. It could involve establishing advisory groups or utilizing other participatory approaches to ensure young people’s experiences and opinions are heard and considered.  

It is also clear that museums need support to achieve this. Our experience within the project suggests that there is not an equal understanding of the importance of co-design across different roles within museums, with co-design projects often the sole responsibility of learning departments. The structure, planning and funding models do not support participation and engagement with decisions about programming made in advance and engagement focused on numbers rather than relationships.  

Living Museums has shown routes for engaging young people and highlighted that co-design approaches can support a sustainable future by engaging new audiences and creating links that will last beyond the life of the project. ​There are already early signs of this within the museums we worked with - one is undertaking an access audit based on the focus on accessibility in the group of young people. Another has used the project as an example of how to do future engagement with young people on the design of their main hall.

However, commitments to changing approaches ​across the sector are needed. Participation of communities needs to be at the heart of future strategic planning in the sector, such as that currently being conducted by Museums and Galleries Scotland.

Participation and engagement training for staff

There needs to be a package of training rolled out to support staff within and across the sector to develop their knowledge and understanding of participation and engagement. Responsibility for participation and engagement also needs to be embedded within senior roles to ensure that it is promoted.  

There is a desire to take this work forward from our project partners and we look forward to seeing where that leads. However, it will also require systemic change to move to a place where museums are truly spaces for and by young people which they feel ownership of. 

Chris Ross is Senior Policy Officer with Children in Scotland and project lead for Living Museums. 

Click here to read the Living Museums project report

Click here to find out more about the project

About the author

Chris Ross is the project lead for the Living Museums project

Click to email Chris

Living Museums Project Final Report

The end of project report highlights successes and how to maintain the momentum

Click here to download

News: Calls from the publication of the final report

Major reforms are needed to make museums more accessible, inclusive and relevant to young people

Click to read the press release

Living Museums

Working in partnership with the museums sector to engage young people

Click here to find out more

Participation and engagement guidelines

Refreshed guidance, putting young people at the heart of engagement work

Click here to read

Evidence bank

A unique resource which directly captures the views of children and young people

Click here to visit the website

National Planning Framework response: “Wellbeing must be at the heart of the process”

9 March 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework Position Statement, calling for a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing and the adoption of a people-focused planning system.

In our response we welcome the broad intersectional approach in the government's statement, and acknowledge its reference to inequalities in communities, such as lack of green space, unsuitable play areas or vacant and derelict land.

We also support the commitment to net-zero emissions in future planning.

However, we believe it is vital that the planning framework takes account of the needs of children, young people and families and facilitates their meaningful involvement in the development and planning process to guide decision and investment.

In our Manifesto for the 2021-26 Scottish Parliament we call for consideration to be given to the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities model, which aims to ensure that children and young people's needs are at the heart of local decision-making and planning.

This is an approach that the Scottish Government should embrace as part of the planning framework, we argue.

Investment in person-centred planning, a commitment to a wellbeing economy and place-based investment are also amongst our top-level recommendations.

Chris Ross, Children in Scotland's Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer, said:

“The Scottish Government’s position statement outlines a range of positive policy suggestions that could support better places and, most importantly, better outcomes for those who live there.

"To achieve this, it is vital that children, young people and families have input to ensure investment reflect their needs.

"We know from our own project work that they have clear views about the places they live and what could change.

"It is important for the Scottish Government, planning authorities and others involved in local planning to learn from our projects, and others like them, about how to meaningfully engage children and young people in discussions about place and planning for better outcomes for all.”

The response highlights the requirement to tackle wider systemic issues such as poverty, inequality and discrimination.

It recognises the need for both meaningful resources and political will in order to deliver a truly wellbeing and people-centred planning system.

Click here to read our response in full

The response supports many of the recommendations and calls made within our Manifesto for 2021-26, published in November 2020.

Click here to find out more about the Manifesto

Children in Scotland Manifesto 2021-26

Read more about the themes and calls in our latest Manifesto

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Project: Health Inequalities

Exploring how community and place impacts on health and wellbeing

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Project: Changing Gears

Young people's views on bike ability, road safety, health and the environment

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Housing 2040

We respond to the Housing 2040 Consultation (Feb 2020)

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News: We need a rights-based housing policy

Read our news item with key messages from the consultation response

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To support children in the fight against Covid-19, we need your voices, knowledge and expertise

27 March 2020

In response to Covid-19, Children in Scotland is emphasising its role as a representative body for the children’s sector that can unite people to support children and families.

We are also announcing improvements to our membership offer, and urging our wider network to contribute ideas, resources and experiences as we collectively adapt to the impact of the virus.

Children in Scotland’s CEO Jackie Brock said:

“The pandemic means Children in Scotland’s core organisational qualities of representation, dialogue and convening power must be brought more strongly to the fore.

We want to concentrate on listening, amplifying what our members and wider network have to say and sharing the best possible opportunities, resources and learning to support children and families.

This is a time where we should be drawing on our best democratic instincts but also engaging in constructive challenge when decisions are made that fail the needs of children and families.

As I said in a statement last week (click to read), the response to the pandemic must be articulated and experienced as a collective effort. Preserving dignity and rights, and continuing to amplify young people’s voices, will be fundamentally important.

Strengthening skills and sharing your views

We remain totally committed to strengthening skills in the sector to improve childhoods and support families, so our learning programme is temporarily moving online.

We’ve converted many of our events into webinars and will be launching a special guide to the full range of these learning opportunities next month.

A new series of webinars led by our staff, and digital consultation about our Manifesto for the 2021-26 parliament, is also being developed.

A big part of ongoing engagement will be about using our channels to broadcast the experiences and views of our audience, building dialogue and signposting our collective strength.

Please email our communications manager Chris Small ( if you would like to share your experiences through a 25 Calls campaign response, a blog on our website or, if you are a member, in our new weekly members’ update, launching next week.

This will be a space to share informed perspectives and resources, but also ideas about what we want to take forward as learning from the experience of Covid-19.

Update on our services

Our services remain a vital part of our offer to families and communities.

The Enquire helpline is open for written enquiries and our dedicated team is ready to help any parents or carers understand how the new coronavirus laws affect the education of children with additional support needs in Scotland. The website will be updated daily as new education legislation and guidance is published.

Referrals to the My Rights, My Say Children’s Views service are being dealt with on an individual basis. Advice and information about all parts of the service are available on the My Rights, My Say website.

Our mediation service Resolve is currently in discussion with local authorities about what their needs may be and what can practicably be offered. We will provide a further update on this as soon as we can.

Thanks for being part of our network.

Remember that by working together we can help to support and represent every child, and every childhood, during this difficult time.”

Click here to follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to find out about all our upcoming courses, get updates on our news, and hear how our wider network is responding.

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