South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has praised young people in Dumfries and Galloway and the local council’s Youth Work team for leading the rest of Scotland in “grabbing the opportunities the Year of Young People offered”.
The local MSP was speaking during a Scottish Parliament debate on the Year of the Young People and took the opportunity to highlight the range of events held in the region during 2018.
Speaking in Parliament Colin Smyth said, “It’s no coincidence that the First Minister chose the Oasis Centre in Dumfries to launch Scotland’s Year of Young people. Dumfries and Galloway’s Council’s excellent Youth Services team and the region’s talented young people very much led the rest of Scotland in grabbing the opportunities the year offered by delivering a programme of events not only for young people living within the region but from across Scotland. Those events led by young people for young people”.
The local MSP praised the success of the now annual Youthbeatz event and in particular the ‘Toon Experience’. Colin Smyth told Parliament, “This year (Youthbeatz) ran over two days for the first time and one of the centrepieces is ‘The Toon’ experience- an interactive drama designed and run by nearly 50 young people, for young people. It’s not for the faint hearted. Young people act out in pretty brutal fashion real live experiences about road safety, knife crime, mental health, alcohol, drugs, sexual exploitation – not only at youthbeatz but at schools across the region reaching thousands upon thousands of young people. It provides peer advice, support and empathy to those who may well be facing the same challenges and who can see that they are not alone. So whenever anyone asks me why did I vote to fund youthbeatz for a decade as a councillor and why do I continue to passionately support it. I tell them – it’s because it saves lives. We should never shy away from the need to invest in our youth services, which is becoming challenging for council’s at a time of far too many cuts being imposed on their budgets”
Colin Smyth also highlighted that the closing event of the Year in Dumfries and Galloway was the first Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards where young people were awarded for their participation, talents and achievements.
Colin Smyth told Parliament “At that event Maisie Anderson from Kirkcudbright scooped the top award of Young Person of the year for her tireless, successful, campaign to enable the skin sensor, Freestyle Libre to be available to those , who like Maisie, live with Type 1 Diabetes in Dumfries and Galloway- a campaign she took to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee”.
However, Colin Smyth called on the Scottish Government to ensure they delivered a legacy for the Year of Young People. He said, “ The chances and experiences provided for our young people last year were fantastic, but one off opportunities are not enough. In Dumfries and Galloway, the council have pledged that the legacy will include a new Young People’s Services Plan for the region and they are currently seeking the views of over 10,000 young people living in the region to develop that plan. A new Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council will be established to help ensure more involvement of young people in decision making and help hold other elected representative to account. A secure future has also been secured for Youth Beatz event as a two-day event and the Dumfries and Galloway Youth Awards will now become an annual event to celebrate the achievements, talents and participation of our young people. I hope the Government will match the ambition of the young people and the council in Dumfries and Galloway and deliver a clear legacy plan, crucially supported by adequate investment in young peoples’ services, to ensure that the Year of Young people in Scotland is every year”.