Our blog series on the ‘Living it! Children, young people and justice’ event continues with a post by Kim, who spoke at the event. A brave young woman who is determined to turn her life around following a troubled childhood, Kim tells us how it was for her, and why she is hopeful of a changed future.
Wow… is the first thing that entered my head as I woke up the next morning, after an amazing and breath-taking event – one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. That was shortly followed by a ‘Yasssss! We did it’.
For the last five months all I have thought about is the event: what it would look like, what the MSPS would be like, the room and mostly my speech. What is it I could say to them that they haven’t heard before? was a question I always kept asking myself. I kept coming up with the same answer: they have heard it all before. As we know, for generations the stories haven’t changed, nor have the experiences so many young people and myself went through – the only thing that’s changed is time.
But one thing I do know is that getting the opportunity to let the ministers and professionals put a face to a name is really important, and if you were present, I’m sure you will agree that our stories impacted on everyone in that room.
I can honestly say that I have never felt this sense of pride and achievement before, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the young people that are ‘living it’ in Scotland today. It’s exciting and promising to be part of the generation that can stop these endless cycles of offending. To do this, we really need to find out what works.
For me, what worked was having positive influences in my life. Supervision was just the start of my journey; it gave me the foundations and initial support, then it was on me to go out into the big bad world and chap on doors to find out who I really was and what I wanted to do with my life. The next part of my journey was getting a knockback from college which devastated me. I was told I would never get a career in the care sector, and I’d never be able to work with young people.
My self-worth was at rock bottom again, until I found Mr Allan Weaver (ex-offender who is now a Criminal Justice Team Leader, who has written a book and produced a film about his experiences). I was ready to give up, but Allan’s story inspired me to keep going. So off I went again searching for help and guidance, which is when I met Fergus McNeil (Professor of Criminology) and John Carnochan (former Police Chief, retired from the Violence Reduction Unit). Never in a million years would I have thought I would have found a role model that was a polis – I still giggle when I think of it! Making these connections led me on to finding Claire Lightowler and the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice.
The centre is where I have found out who Kim really is and what she is capable of. Claire and the team have really helped and encouraged me to reach my full potential.
Everything I should have learned as a teenager I have learnt from having these positive role models in my life. I hadn’t really thought about it much until I heard my fellow speaker Shaun talking at the Living it! event. He hit the nail on the head when he spoke of how important role models and good relationships are to young people. And I believe we can all learn a lot from his story – and indeed all of the stories that were shared that night.
We were the young people living it and now we are responsible citizens, part of a normal society, and it feels amazing to be part of such change.
I hope everyone at the event learnt something. As Brian (fellow speaker) said, hope is all you have sometimes. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I was wearing a little ‘hope’ necklace, to remind me that having hope saved my life and having hope led me to meeting my role models. Above all, it’s about having hope for changes and changes to happen soon, because how many more Kims, Brians, Shauns, Susies and Amies do people need to see before we find the answers?
‘Living it! Children, young people and justice’ took place at the Scottish Parliament on February 17th, 2015. It brought together Ministers, MSPS, practitioners and young people to address questions raised in the Scottish Justice Matters magazine issue of the same title. Find out more.