skip to main content
Photo of metal food containers holding salad leaves, sweetcorn and tomatoes, with utensils in the dishes.

News: Research reveals young people's support for extending free school meals and reducing stigma

Posted 7 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

New Scotland-wide research shows that 76% of young people would eat more lunches at school if free provision was extended to all pupils.

The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) has published findings from a nationwide survey in the Young People's Right to Food report.

In late 2022, SYP asked young people about their access to food and improvements they think could be made to uphold their right to food.

The project received 846 online responses from people aged 12-26, from 26 local authorities in Scotland.

The results highlight experiences around access to food at home and in school, and stigma associated with asking for help.

Encouraging school lunches

86% of young people thought that extending free school meals was crucial to upholding their right to food, and 76% said that they would be more likely to eat lunch at school if free meals were provided.

Additionally, 70% said that a better eating environment and/or involving young people in decision-making about school meals would make them more likely to eat lunch at school.

Stigma around asking for help 

Nearly half of respondents (47%) believe that there is a stigma associated with needing support to access food.

Young people came up with a number of suggestions on how this stigma could be reduced, such as using more inclusive, non-targeted language and challenging wider structural barriers.

Ensuring that people know where they can get help to access food was also suggested, an issue highlighted by the report's finding that only 40% were aware of the support available in their community.

Normalising conversations about food struggles was also highlighted as important. On the lack of conversations around food insecurity, one young person commented:

"If you're well-off, which I am (relative to where I live anyways), when I think about food banks, I think about helping out, volunteering. I don't think about what it's like to actually be someone requiring that help, or someone that needs to think about asking for it because they're struggling."

The report makes five recommendations on how to improve and uphold young people’s access and right to food in Scotland, as voiced by young people:

  1. Free school meal provision should be extended to all secondary school pupils
  2. Young people should be meaningfully involved in decision-making about the content and quality of school meals and in making improvements to the eating environment
  3. Greater efforts must be made to eliminate the stigma associated with asking for help to access food
  4. Local government must raise awareness among young people about local programmes that support food access
  5. Scottish Government must bring the UNCRC Incorporation Bill back to Parliament.

Click here to read more about SYP's Right to Food report

field of sunflowers

News: Forum for young people with sight loss relaunches

Posted 23 Nov, 2021 by Nina Joynson

Haggeye, which provides a space for young people with sight loss to campaign for change and meet new people, has relaunched.

The award-winning Scottish youth forum run by RNIB Scotland relaunched this month to give a voice to young people who are blind or partially sighted.

Haggeye began in 2007 as part of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland, with young people aged 16-27 from all over the country meeting to socialise and campaign on matters concerning sight loss, including transport and education accessibility.

The pandemic caused activities to be suspended but, as restrictions ease, RNIB Scotland hopes that the relaunched forum will boost the confidence of more young people with sight loss.

Rachael McMurchy, Policy and Campaigns Officer with RNIB Scotland, explains:

“Haggeye empowers its members to speak out about what it's like to be young and have sight loss in today's society, and also to have a say in shaping public policies that affect them.

"The last year or two has been more challenging than ever for young people who are blind or partially sighted.

"We want to ensure they still have that platform to talk and campaign about what matters most to them, to build up their skills, socialise with others, and increase their self-confidence."

Haggeye provides a friendly platform for young people to raise awareness of what’s important to them and meet new people.

Members have the opportunity to be part of Scotland’s youth parliament, with two MSYP seats reserved for the organisation. This year, Eilidh Morrison and Kerry Burke have been elected to represent Haggeye.

Kerry Burke, 17, from East Kilbride says:

"Growing up in primary and secondary schools with fully sighted peers really affected me socially. It was a huge blow to my confidence when everyone else in the room had no problem doing all the tasks while I sat there struggling.

"I think a surprising thing is how differently you address your disability in the class with teachers, and outside with friends.

"Discovering how to feel comfortable in asking for what you need vision-wise, while also being sociable, is a delicate balance.

"As a minority, it's easy for our needs to be overlooked. Haggeye creates a platform where our voices can be heard as a whole community.

"I hope we will be able to grow as a group of people from around Scotland who are passionate about campaigning for their rights and can make those changes that help us in our day to day lives."

Click here to learn more about Haggeye