Youth Justice Voices, a partnership project between the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) and the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum (Staf) has received a commendation at the Howard League Community Awards in the Children in Care and Care Leavers Category.
Youth Justice Voices is a Scotland-wide participation project, funded by The Life Changes Trust, which seeks to amplify the voices of care and justice experienced young people aged 16 to 25 to influence national change.
The young people leading Youth Justice Voices have already had a big impact, including:
- Influencing the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill by meeting with the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP.
- Being commissioned by the Scottish Government to engage with care and justice experienced young people on Scotland’s new Vision and Action Plan for Youth Justice, developing and leading online participation sessions.
- Being consulted by the No Knives Better Lives (NKBL) on their new initiative to create a virtual reality game for secondary school pupils that will educate them and provoke discussion about the dangers and risks of carrying or using knives.
- Interviewed the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney MSP, and called for him to consider removing the age cap of 26 years for the Care Experienced Students Bursary – something he announced the following week.
This is the second time CYCJ has enjoyed recognition by the Howard League Community Awards. In 2018, the CYCJ/Staf Next Steps project, which aims to reduce the criminalisation of children in care, received a Special Commendation for Policy Development.
Claire Lightowler, Director of CYCJ, said:
“We are very excited that Youth Justice Voices received a commendation at the Howard League Community Awards. This is a much deserved tribute to the hard work, creativity and efforts of the young people who are involved, who have achieved so much in a relatively short amount of time. They have already directly changed government policy and contributed to shaping the next youth justice vision for Scotland. Their work demonstrates the benefits of taking a participative approach to youth justice, and what can happen when those most affected by policies and practice have a role in bringing about change.
“Well done to everyone who won or was nominated – the standard was very high this year, as always!”
Staf CEO Jo Derrick said:
“We’re delighted that the Staf/CYCJ Youth Justice Voices project has received a commendation at the Howard League Community Awards. We’re all very proud of the young people involve – it is clear that their work is having a big impact already and will lead to real change for their care and justice experienced peers.
“Well done also to shortlisted alongside us too and to the winner, which is a project working to reduce the criminalisation of looked after children in Norfolk – a worthy winner doing great work.
“Recognition at the Howard League Community Awards is further evidence of the valuable partnership between Staf and CYCJ – I look forward to continuing to work together to improve the lives of young people with justice experience.”
Youth Justice Participation Worker Ruth Kerracher, who works across Staf and CYCJ leading on the project said:
“Youth Justice Voices could not have received this commendation without the hard work of all the amazing young people involved – not only do they continue to turn up and take part but they drive this project forward. I’m incredibly proud of every young person who has taken part in Youth Justice Voices. I hope to see more participation project’s receive recognition in the future.”
Chris Marshall, a young person involved in the project, said:
“It’s such a huge achievement for me to be part of a collective group everyone has worked so hard to make sure we are a success and I can’t wait to see where we will be able to take the project.
“Congratulations on all the winners. I look forward to hearing more about all the different projects which were nominated.”