Thanks to generous funding from ABF: The Soldier’s Charity and the National Lottery’s Young Start Programme, Royal Caledonian Education Trust’s Youth Participation Project has successfully adapted to many challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic to deliver outcomes to better understand and respond effectively to unique challenges experienced by young people from serving personnel and veteran families across Scotland.
The project brings experiences of Armed Forces young people together as well as their passions, ambition and drive to pursue positive futures to implement a co-production approach to develop, design and deliver meaningful projects and services which effectively raise awareness and support Armed Forces young people overcome unique challenges faced to education and learning, participation, mental health and wellbeing.
By adopting a co-production approach, the voice of Armed Forces young people has shaped over one hundred virtual sessions, which have served to reduce isolation, enhance connectivity and support mental health and wellbeing, achieved through a wide range of fund-based activities, projects and discussion groups.
Planned residential activities were sadly postponed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, our young people shaped an alternative Virtual Sleepout event to bring Armed Forces young people from across together. Our young people developed a programme of activities and prepared an activity pack which was sent to attendees to facilitate virtual participation in a range of sessions, which included special effects make-up, murder mystery and digital arts project.
The project has also enabled the voice of Armed Forces young people to shape campaigns to raise awareness of unique challenges faced by serving personnel and veteran families across Scotland to key decision makers at a local, regional and national level.
One example includes the work our Armed Forces young people completed to shape the charity’s first ever Manifesto, ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections in May. A series of themed calls-to-actions, which focused on participation and engagement, education and learning, mental health and wellbeing and data were written and audio clips which were embedded within the Manifesto for parliamentary candidates to listen to as a means to reinforce the key themes outlined within the e-document.
Members of the Youth Participation Project have expressed their appreciation with regards to how impactful opportunities provided have supported them develop in confidence as well as have their say in a wide range of projects to raise awareness of many challenges faced by Armed Forces young people across Scotland.
“I like being a part of the forum because it allows people to understand young people’s points of view which I think is very important. It allows me to grow my conﬁdence as well. It’s important Armed Forces young people know they are not alone and provided support. […] I have been given some amazing opportunities and most importantly it has grown my conﬁdence and helped me make some great friends.”
“The Forum allows me to express opinions I have on important topics involving military life and those opinions can be used to help others who may be going through difﬁcult situations. […] This group has given me an opportunity to meet people like me and build friendships. It has helped me to develop my conﬁdence and I can see a change in myself as my conﬁdence grows and I am able to do more to make the changes I want to see, as an Armed Forces young person.”
We are extremely grateful for the continued support from Young Start and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity towards our highly successful Youth Participation Project, whose support has ensured we continue to provide an opportunity to Armed Forces young people from across Scotland to shape projects, services and decisions which directly affect them.
Are you a young person from a serving personnel or veteran family and would like to find out more about getting involved in Royal Caledonian Education Trust’s Youth Participation Project?