A range of new faces have joined CYCJ in 2023. In this series we take the chance to get to know a little bit more about who they are, and the nature of the work they’re doing. Next in the series is Participation Advisor and ‘the man who knows everyone’ Iain Corbett. You could argue that he’s not a new face, having previously sat on CYCJ’s Executive Governance Group, but there’s always more to learn with Iain, so we set him the questions, and he did not disappoint!
- Can you a tell us a bit about your background and interests, and how they’ve led you to CYCJ at this point in your career?
I suppose my main area of interest, professionally at least, is making life fairer, easier and more enjoyable for young people and the communities they live in. I’m passionate about CYP rights and community empowerment as for me they are vehicles for social justice.
I have always known I wanted to work with young people, but have been around the houses trying to find the space that really lit a fire in my belly. I started off doing youth and community theatre, as theatre had helped me as a young person, but quickly realised that wasn’t the sector for me. I switched to traditional youth work and ran a YP volunteering programme and loved it…but…that’s when I realised, I wanted to work specifically with justice experienced young people – using my own experience of the justice system to support and improve things for young people currently going through similar is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
- What’s the nature of the work that you’re taking on with CYCJ, and what do you see as some of the biggest challenges and opportunities ahead? How are you settling in so far?
My role is to make sure that young peoples voice is embedded in all practice at the centre. This takes many forms – group work/advisory groups/creative projects/one-to-ones – basically whatever works best for the child. The biggest challenge for me is getting young people interested and enthused in strategy and policy work which can be abstract to them, but this also brings one of the biggest opportunities – working with young people to understand their rights, the implications of their contribution to wider system change and fostering a culture of activism in young people. Helping young people realise their worth and the impact they can have in society is huge. I’m loving the work so far, but I’m only just getting started and there’s still loads to do.
- How are you finding the difference between having been involved in CYCJ as a member of our Executive Governance Group (EGG) compared to your new role as a Participation Advisor?
The roles are totally different so it’s not a direct comparison. I was immensely proud to be on the EGG – when you set out to utilise your own experiences for the benefit of others having an opportunity to do that at an executive level feels important. I spent many years banging on about boardrooms and suits being out of touch so to be invited in to be part of that, an equal part of that, felt like immense progress. I remember being consistently proud hearing of the work the CYCJ team delivered, if slightly jealous not to be out there with them, so when the chance arose, I grabbed it.
- You’re a busy man, wearing different hats for different organisations on any given day – could you tell us a bit about some of the other work you do? I imagine there’s sometimes room for a bit of crossover and collaboration…?
Haha I am busy, for sure. On top of my role as Participation Advisor I also work at Neighbourly Lab as the National Outreach Lead, overseeing all workstreams in Scotland. Neighbourly Lab are all about social connection, strengthening communities and creating opportunity. Further to that, in my “spare” time, I am a co-host on the CLD Talks podcast which sees me as part of a small team highlighting the positive Community Learning and Development work that is happening all over the country. I try to keep these separate as much as possible – purely for personal logistics and time keeping etc – I need quite clear boundaries to ensure I am giving my all to each as and when I should be, but undoubtedly the networking across the three roles has led to opportunities galore. The best part about all of the work I do, is that it’s people focussed – and I get to connect with loads of them…
- How about outside of work – what are your hobbies and interests beyond your passion for youth justice? I know you’re into your music, and content creation…
Absolutely. Love music. Most of my life is soundtracked in someway and I like to have something playing at all times. It soothes me, stimulates me, regulates me and stops me getting into mischief, so there’s always something playing. As you say, I make “content” but mostly just for myself. We are expecting our first child very soon, and since we found out the good news I have been making short videos, “Postcards to ourselves.”, which are kind of home vlogs that the baby can look back at when she is older. I got quite into it and bought a drone and some camera equipment so now try and bring that into work settings too and think creatively about capturing the work we do. Any time I have left after that is spent with my wife and three dogs…usually near water somewhere, or in a forest. Anywhere that soothes the soul.
- What’s the best way for people to get in touch, or follow you on socials, if they want to find out more?
We also asked Iain to recommend some of his favourite music, and he came back with: