Celebrating a year of Youth Justice Voices

Ruth Kerracher looks back on the first year of Youth Justice Voices, and the incredible progress that’s been made by young people in taking this forward.

It’s been a brilliant first year for Youth Justice Voices. I have really enjoyed working collaboratively with Staf and the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) to get this project off the ground. I’ve been extremely impressed by the workforce’s support and enthusiasm for what we’re doing, and I feel we have developed some really good partnerships, which I hope will continue in the New Year.

The project simply wouldn’t work if we didn’t have passionate workers, who believe in their young people and have worked tirelessly to ensure that they can participate in the project.   Undoubtedly the real highlight for me has to be the work of Youth Just Us, the steering group behind Youth Justice Voices. I feel really privileged that I have had the opportunity to work alongside such an amazing group of young people. The group’s commitment and motivation to use their experiences to influence change within the care and justice systems has been truly inspiring. In a matter of months they have participated in the Independent Care Review; met the Children and Young Person’s Minister, Maree Todd; recorded a podcast with Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, on the care-experienced bursary; shared their views on the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill; and submitted a response to the Scottish Government on UNCRC Incorporation.

However, this year hasn’t been plain sailing. I have seen first-hand how our young people continue to experience difficult and complex challenges. I have also seen them go on to achieve incredible things and overcome adversity. We are keen to ensure that Youth Justice Voices extends its reach and offers creative opportunities for young people to express themselves. October saw us launch Artivism, which is a joint collaboration between Youth Justice Voices and Articulate. Led by Glaswegian artist Scott Lang, the group have been working alongside him to express their experiences though photo montage. We will continue this work in the New Year, as the Artivists will develop their work further through stencil making and spray paint. Watch this space for the exhibition showcase!

We will also be planning the next steps for Youth Just Us and looking for more young people to join this youth-led steering group. Finally, I am excited to announce that we will be collaborating with Barnardo’s Outside In Project within HM&YOI Polmont, establishing a new Youth Justice Voices Project for care-experienced young people on long term sentences.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this project, it has really meant a lot to us.

Contact ruth@staf.scot for further info.

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
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