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New phase of Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe will ensure young voices are heard in Brexit negotiations

19 November 2019

Children and young people will again have the opportunity to advise the Scottish Government on the issues they would like to be considered as part of Brexit negotiations with Westminster and the European Union as part of a landmark participation project.

The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe, initiated by Children in Scotland and independently led by the charity in partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), will also develop resources to provide helpful information for children across Scotland about what leaving the EU might mean for their lives.

Children in Scotland and Together supported the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe from July to December 2018, and it will reconvene next month.

The Panel previously comprised 19 members aged 8-19 years, with the next phase being made up of 20 children and young people, including some of the previous panel members.

All members were too young to vote in the EU referendum but worked to identify five areas of primary importance to children and young people in their relationship with Europe. These areas will continue to be the focus of their work:

  • EU funding
  • Opportunities to work, study and travel in other countries
  • The economy, trade and jobs
  • Rights
  • Uncertainty

Welcoming the next stage of the project, panel member Soroush, aged 13, said: "Since we met last and our report was published, Brexit is still a matter of uncertainty. We still don't know what the end result will look like. I want to continue to promote our voice since we are the generation that will be affected the most."

Panel member and MSYP Jack Bell, aged 17, said: “The current political atmosphere is incredibly rich, yet dense; it's difficult to navigate, especially for a young person who may have a limited understanding of politics.

“I'm honoured to be able to speak on behalf of young people and bring their voices to the top tables of decision-making, especially on an issue as important as Brexit.”

And panel member Oscar, aged 9, added: “I am so glad we are continuing our work and I can’t wait to get stuck in!”

The Panel will meet eight times between December and July 2020 to share their views, learn more about the process of leaving the EU, and find out what other children and young people across the United Kingdom have said, before deciding what they want the priorities to be for the future.

The Panel, funded by Scottish Government EU Directorate, will make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Mike Russell. It will maintain links across the Scottish Parliament and wider civic society through the Cross-Party Group on Children and Young People, and other relevant organisations.

The Panel builds on work by the Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot, the My Life My Say movement and others, which found that children and young people feel anxious and uncertain about what Brexit means for them.

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said: “Children and young people have strong opinions about the kind of Scotland they want to grow up in, and yet they often struggle to get their views heard.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to have their views taken into account in all decisions that affect them.

“The next stage of the Panel’s work will help to make this right real and ensure children’s views are listened to, respected and taken into account by those involved in the Brexit negotiations.”

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Joint Acting Chief Executive and Head of Policy, Projects and Participation said: “The first phase of the Panel gave young people a say on Brexit and our future relationship with Europe.

“We're delighted that this next stage will build on those foundations and ensure that children and young people’s voices are no longer marginalised on one of the most vital social, economic and cultural issues of our times.”

The Panel will be sharing blogs, video content and helpful resources for children and young people throughout the project.

Media enquiries:

Jemma Tracey, Communications Officer, Children in Scotland: 0131 313 8849 (Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Chris Small, Communications Manager, Children in Scotland: 0131 313 8824 / (Monday, Thursday and Friday)

Juliet Harris, Director, Together, 0131 337 9015 / 

Editors’ notes:

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.

Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights)

Together is an alliance of Scottish children's charities that works to improve the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

We do this by:

  • promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • helping children's organisations to integrate the UNCRC into their work;
  • monitoring and reporting on the progress made at a Scottish and UK level.

Our growing membership is made up of a range of children's charities, from small local playgroups through to large international charities, alongside individuals, academics and professionals with an interest in children's rights.

"It gives me hope for the future"

Watch a video to find out more about the Panel and the first phase of the project

Click to watch the film

"Listen to us on Brexit"

The Panel produced a report and set of recommendations in February 2019

Click to download the report

Young People's Panel on Europe

Find out more about the project and recruitment of new members

Click to read the project details

Why involving young people is better for all

A blog by Ellie Roy, member of our young people's advisory group Changing our World

Click to read Ellie's blog

Parliamentary Monitor

We keep track of the latest policy developments relevant to children and families in Scotland, across the UK, and in Europe. 

This week in the Scottish Parliament

Tuesday 9 February

In the afternoon, in Topical Questions, Joan McAlpine to ask the Scottish Government what its response is to figures published by the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory, which state that people with a learning disability are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 and twice as likely to experience serious disease.

In Committees, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will hear evidence on the Climate Change Plan.

Wednesday 10 February

In the main chamber First Ministers Questions will include Christine Graham asking the First Minister whether the Scottish Government is considering children returning to full-time education during part of the traditional summer holiday period.

The Education and Skills Committee will consider regulations on the following legislation: The Repayment of Student Loans (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/8) and Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 (Day 1).

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee will hear evidence on the Climate Change Plan.

Additionally, the Local Government and Communities Committee will look at ‘Community Wellbeing’ – Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Thursday 11 February

In the main chamber, in Portfolio Questions on the environment brief, Bill Kidd will ask the Scottish Government what environmental measures it has in place to support Scotland’s transition to become net-zero, and Elaine Smith will ask what importance it places on access to clean air and environmentally-friendly spaces within the National Performance Framework.

In Committee Business, the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee will take evidence on the Scottish Government's Budget 2021-22 and EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee will consider the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 (Day 1).
Click here to read Children in Scotland’s response to the open consultation on the Bill.

This week in Westminster

Tuesday 9 February

In the main chamber, Caroline Lucas will present an adjournment on the UK’s response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Thursday 11 February

In the main chamber, Scottish Affairs Committee will hear oral evidence on Welfare policy in Scotland and the International Trade Committee will meet to hear oral evidence on the UK-EU trading relationship.


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Family voices ‘should shape policy' on food, learning and holidays

In a letter published in the Herald newspaper today, our Chief Executive Jackie Brock responded to a call by the Scottish Conservatives that schools should stay open as “community hubs” during the summer holidays, drawing on Children in Scotland’s learning from our Food, Families, Futures partnership project.

This is an edited extract from her letter:

The Scottish Conservatives’ proposal to keep schools open as “community hubs” throughout the summer raises further questions in an already complex policy debate about the best ways of challenging poverty’s impact on education and health.

Children in Scotland’s FFF project was sparked by headteachers telling us about children and parents in their communities potentially going hungry, missing out on meals because they simply couldn't afford food. This was exacerbated in holiday periods when the schools’ free meal provision ended. They were also worried about the children not getting the chance to have a holiday.

Our experience of the project thus far tells us that, when large-scale business (for example, food distribution company Brakes) and small-scale community organisations take action together to fight these problems, it can have a transformational effect. Families have reported to us their enjoyment of learning more about making food, taking part in activities, and simply being together. But this success has been down to a highly localised approach, where families lead the experience, and partner organisations operate from a deep understanding of each community’s differing characteristics and needs.

At the other end of the spectrum are more macro policy solutions. A Westminster Bill being proposed by Frank Field MP would, if enacted, mandate local authorities in England to facilitate delivery of programmes providing free meals and activities for children during school holidays. There may be pressure for equivalent legislation here.

We think a balance should be struck between learning from a bespoke community-level support and a ‘top down’ national approach that, while well-intentioned, might lose sight of important local realities.

For any policy approach to be effective, it must be sensitive to a multitude of issues. We need to respect school staff’s rights to holidays, and the rights of families not to be bound to their local school outside of term time. We should be wary of thinking that suggests keeping schools open through the summer is a catch-all solution to Scotland’s attainment problem. And we need to be mindful of labeling families as ‘poor’ and communities as ‘deprived’ in a way that doesn’t help them and doesn’t reflect the vitality and fun we saw in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire over the past two months.

FFF is currently being evaluated by academics at Northumbria University who are looking at whether it has contributed to mitigating learning loss. In developing a policy approach that works we need to be drawing on evidence of this kind ‘in the round’, alongside clear-eyed testimony from children and families about what works for them. They deserve our support and their voices need to be heard as we keep this vital issue on the national agenda.


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Holiday hunger survey: Members’ views wanted

The UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger and Food Poverty has opened a survey on the prevalence of holiday hunger, and has invited Children in Scotland members to respond.

The group, chaired by Frank Field MP, is asking those affected by, or working with those affected by, holiday hunger, to complete a short survey. The hope is that the results will help inform government about the need for a more structured framework of support, policy and funding while at the same time highlighting that the issue of child hunger requires more upstream measures to ensure that child poverty can be tackled.

As a UK-wide issue, mapping projects from across the four nations, including Scotland, should help inform future policy and programme planning to benefit all children resident in the UK.

The results will be published via the Westminster APPG on Hunger.

It is hoped the findings of the survey may also help inform the School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill, presented to Westminster by Frank Field MP on 20 July. The Bill, which has cross-party backing, would give local authorities the duties and resources they need to facilitate the delivery of programmes that provide free meals and activities for children who would otherwise go without.


The survey comes towards the end of the Scottish school holidays, which also marks the end of the 2017 summer clubs run as part of the Food, Families, Futures project programme.

This year, 26 schools signed up to take part, following on from the successful 2016 pilot in Dalmarnock and Ibrox Primary Schools, both Glasgow.

See the latest postings from the 2017 clubs on the Food, Families, Futures Storify.

Food, Families, Futures (FFF) is a partnership programme between Children in Scotland, Brakes’ Meals & More programme, Glasgow City Council and schools across Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire


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Holiday Hunger report 'a wake-up call that flags local solutions'

The life chances of up to three million children in the UK are under threat due to their risk of going hungry during school holidays.

The finding is made in a report, Hungry Holidays, published today by a cross-party group of Westminster MPs and peers.

Children in Scotland submitted evidence to the report based on its own research and findings from its Food, Families, Futures project which was piloted last summer.

Our key points, included in today's report, contextualised holiday hunger in the wider issue of poverty and its impact on children. They were:

  • High childcare costs are one of the key issues affecting parents on low income in particular, and form a major barrier to taking up employment or increasing hours worked form many parents
  • Going to school hungry and struggling through the long school holidays not only impacts children’s happiness and wellbeing, it severely limits their mental and physical development with long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences. They are most likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, obesity and to have a healthy life expectancy of 23 years less than their most affluent counterparts (Source: The Scottish Government (2015) Long-Term Monitoring of Health Inequalities)
  • Our Food, Families, Futures project is effective in eliminating holiday hunger and demonstrates what can be achieved when communities take action to forge partnerships that are appropriate to local needs.

Children in Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“We welcome publication of this report and hope that it contributes to further raising the profile of food poverty - and awareness of its severe impact on children ­- at UK level.

“Children in Scotland knows from piloting our Food, Families Futures project in Dalmarnock and Ibrox primaries last summer that an approach to tackling holiday hunger which is community-led and designed at a local level, with the school at its heart, can make a genuine difference to families.”

“We have started discussions about the expansion of the project across Scotland which will not only help families but also provide further evidence of what can be achieved with this approach. We will be providing more details on this soon.”

Food, Families, Futures

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‘Benefit cap will increase child poverty and perpetuate health inequalities’

Children in Scotland has responded to the recent Westminster benefit cap inquiry, warning that the implementation of the cap will increase child poverty and cause vulnerable families to be more reliant on government welfare and services, both now and in the future.

Our response highlights concerns about the implication that those on benefits merely require an incentive to work and identifies barriers such as unaffordable childcare and a lack of skills or training, which make it difficult for people to move straight into work. We urge Westminster to consider positive and active policy measures relating to the provision of childcare and the labour market, which may help make positive inroads in getting more families out of poverty.

Our response also warns of a knock-on effect on other areas of public spending, and states:

“We suggest [the cap] will increase child poverty rates and impact negatively on health and wellbeing of both the adults claiming and their children. This is likely to contribute to an increasing level of pressure on the NHS, CAMHS and a wide array of other services, and contribute to increased costs for the government and local authorities.”

Last year, the UK Government introduced a benefit cap. It limits the income households can receive in certain benefits to £20,000 a year outside of London and to £23,000 in London.

The inquiry, launched by the UK Work and Pensions Committee, aims to identify how it impacts on the estimated 88,000 British households affected by the new cap.

Alongside our own response, we also fully endorse and support the response of the Child Poverty Action Group to the inquiry. We hope the committee take on board fully the recommendations made, taking account of the impact of the benefit cap on the day-to-day life of children, young people and families across the UK.

Benefit cap inquiry

Read Children in Scotland full response to the inquiry

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Benefit cap inquiry launched

Read more about the benefit cap inquiry

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