Youth Justice Voices is a joint collaboration between the Children’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) and the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum (Staf), funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and The Promise Partnership Good Childhood Fund.
What’s the story?
Set up in April 2019 to amplify the voices of young people aged 16-25 with experience of the care and justice systems, this youth justice advisory group is using creative ways to enable young people to be heard in the justice system, and explore and share their experiences with policymakers, managers, corporate parents and the Scottish Government.
Why ‘Youth Just Us’?
Youth Justice Voice’s steering group made the decision to call themselves ‘Youth Just Us’. In addition to being a clever play on words, they felt it gave “justice” to justice experienced young people by dropping the label.
The project also works with Inside Out, a steering group for care-experienced boys and young men in Polmont in collaboration with Barnardo’s. Inside Out focuses on driving change and promoting rights based issues for those in HMPYOI. Find out more.
What have they achieved so far?
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.
- Interviewing the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney MSP, and calling for him to consider removing the age cap of 26 years for the Care Experienced Students Bursary – something he announced the following week.
Where’s the entertainment?
In addition to influencing change, Youth Just Us is equally serious about having fun! The group have enjoyed games of bowling, Lazer Quest and football, whilst enjoying the odd pizza, Mexican food and games night. Oh, and not forgetting Giant Jenga…
Why should I get involved?
Youth Just Us is open to those aged 16-25, who have experience of the care and/or justice systems. If you want your views to be heard (and acted on), and to play your part in changing the future of youth justice in Scotland, plus meet new people and do something a wee bit different with your time, then this is the group for you. Meetings take place on most Monday evenings. You are very welcome to invite your support worker.
Contact Ruth Kerracher on email@example.com to discuss and find out more. Follow Youth Justice Voices on Twitter @YJVScotland.
Connecting and consulting with Youth Justice Voices
We have received requests from number of organisations to consult with the members of our youth led participation group, and more widely with care and justice experienced young people. This is welcomed, with one aim of this project being to shape and influence legislation, policy and practice in relation to these areas. Please consider the following points when making a request to engage in consultation with one of the constituent groups, before contacting Ruth Kerracher via firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how best to proceed.
Digital Dough – A Co-creative Exploration in Digital Storytelling
Recently Liminal Studios and Youth Justice Voices explored the power of digital storytelling and augmented reality to challenge stigma and discrimination, and embrace their own creative power. The workshops were hugely successful, and the work was shared in a participatory workshop which took place at the 2023 National Youth Justice Conference. Kev and Chris from STAF blogged about their experiences, and what they got out of it. You can read their reflections here and here.
Find out more – and watch this video:
New funding for Youth Justice Voices
We are delighted to announce that thanks to an award from The National Lottery Community Fund, made possible by National Lottery players, alongside funding from The Promise Partnership Good Childhood Fund, we can begin a new chapter in the life of Youth Justice Voices.
This new funding will ensure that the work of Youth Justice Voices and Inside Out can continue and we hope to reach out to more young people across Scotland with care and justice experience to ensure their voices are heard, relationships are built and positive change is made in a creative and supportive environment.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our previous funders, Life Changes Trust, who have been so much more than just a provider of income
Fiona Dyer, Director, Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ), said:
“The past three years have been an incredible journey, and we have enjoyed working alongside Life Changes Trust and Staf to make Youth Justice Voices the success it is today. We are so proud of everything these inspiring young people have achieved, and the changes that have happened as a result of using creative participatory methods to empower the group and amplify their voice. These achievements would not have been possible without the funding of Life Changes Trust, and alongside Staf, we are very grateful to them. We are excited to be working with The National Lottery Community Fund and The Promise on the next chapter for Youth Justice Voices.” Find out more.
Life Changes Trust – thank you for the support
Since we began in 2019, Youth Justice Voices has been funded by Life Changes Trust, to help us amplify the voices of young people in the care and justice systems, and support workforce development. As this funding comes to an end, we would like to reflect on the many wonderful opportunities it has given us.
Life Changes Trust have consistently championed us in developing creative approaches to supporting care and justice experienced young people to lead the way in sharing experiences and influencing real change – whilst placing relationships at the heart of everything we do.
The funding has enabled us to work in creative and flexible ways throughout the pandemic, helping us to meet the needs and aspirations of young people, despite the challenges presented by restrictions. This has included funding activities, care packages, data and devices to make sure we stay connected and beat boredom and isolation. It has also allowed us to ensure our activities are meaningful, impactful but also fun, which has been extremely important during these difficult times.
We would like to thank Life Changes Trust for their funding, support and kindness during the last three years. Without this, Youth Justice Voices would not be what it is today.
Working with Police Scotland to change attitudes
“It helps drive me personally to change the way we engage with children and young people.” Youth Just Us have been working with Police Scotland’s Children and Young People’s team to highlight the issues and solutions that care and justice experienced young people want to change in their interactions with the Police. Feedback on these workshops from members of the Police Scotland team has been very positive. Plans are underway for the next workshop.
“Trusting the Polis? That’ll be right!”
Participation Consultant Kev shares his views on the Police and Youth Justice Voice’s sessions with Police Scotland.
Youth Justice Voices responds to National Care Service Consultation
Members of Youth Just Us have responded to proposals for a National Care Service in Scotland.
Inside Out gets a new look
Inside Out, Youth Justice Voice’s youth led steering group for care experienced young people in HMPYOI Polmont, has introduced a new logo. This was created by members working with a designer. The group has also co-produced important guidance to help children in custody know their rights – and how they can make sure these are met. Know Your Rights When Entering Custody was developed by CYCJ and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.
Co-production at its finest: tune in to our latest podcast
Youth Just Us members Ashley and Chris have recorded a podcast along with Emily Beever at No Knives Better Lives to share what it was like to co-produce Nae Danger – listen in here.
Celebrating an anniversary – and a new logo (April 2021)
It’s been two years since the Youth Justice Voices project began – and we have come a long way since then! To celebrate this occasion, we’ve revealed our logo to the world – developed in close consultation with Youth Just Us. Ruth Kerracher reflects back on the highlights of Youth Just Us in this blog – in addition to writing an article for Staf highlighting the importance of youth work. Thank you to everyone who’s supported us on our journey so far!
Co-producing rights-based guidance (March 2021)
Youth Justice Voices is leading on a six month project with CYCJ and Staf which will result in the co-production of guidance on the Whole Systems Approach and legal rights for children in conflict with the law. We are delighted to welcome Dale, Marie and Jason as Youth Justice Project Support Workers within Youth Justice Voices. Find out more – and how you can get involved – in Ross Gibson’s blog.
YJV is commended by the Howard League for Penal Reform (October 2020)
We are delighted to announce that Youth Justice Voices has received a commendation at the 2020 Howard League Community Awards in the Children in Care and Care Leavers Category! This is important recognition of the hard work and creativity that our young people have put into influencing and shaping change. Read the full story.
YJV newsletter – now out (June 2020)
The very first edition of the Youth Justice Voices newsletter – created by young people for young people – was published in June 2020. Read here for more about how people are coping with COVID-19 and creative ways of staying busy during lockdown. The newsletter, which aims to help young people stay connected and engaged, will be available electronically (printed copies are available on request). There’s also an option for readers to submit anonymous submissions for the chance to win a gift voucher and feature in the next newsletter. Contact email@example.com for more info.
Participation Practitioners’ Forum: May 27 (FREE)
Join participation peers and Youth Just Us members to discuss all things participation, trouble shoot any issues and share best practice at this online event. Sign up here. Please share with your contacts.
Pictured below: members of Youth Just Us with Maree Todd