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Combining forces with Forces Children Scotland

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Forces Children Scotland has became the latest Associate National Voluntary Organisation to join the Scottish Youth Parliament.

The announcement follows the charity’s recent publication of an Influencing Strategy, co-produced with young people from armed forces communities.

Young people from armed forces and veteran families have told the charity that they feel like they are a seldom-heard group and their lived experiences are not on the radar of policymakers making important decisions about their future.

Feeling unheard by people in positions of power can be common for many groups of young people. Presently there are over 12,500 from armed forces and veteran families living in Scotland a number expected to rise in the twelve-to-eighteen months.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people and launched a five-year manifesto in 2021 that came directly from young people aged 12-25 across Scotland.

The partnership brings together two organisations that put the voice of young people at the heart of everything they do, whose visions, missions, and values align in ensuring the rights and voice of young people are upheld in policymaking across Scotland.   

Forces Children Scotland launched its manifesto for change within its influencing strategy, and the charity looks forward to the partnership providing a platform for young people from armed forces communities to become a powerful force for meaningful change.

The manifesto focuses on five themes; developing a strong evidence base, upholding children’s rights, delivering specialised mental health and wellbeing services, ensuring a thriving education, and making successful transitions to civilian life.

All of which leads to the question – what needs to change?

Young people have underpinned four core elements to answering this question.

  • Too many young people from armed forces communities have reported to Forces Children Scotland that they feel hidden, unheard, or misunderstood in policymaking and practice.
  • Insufficient data means that don’t know enough about this group of young people and how being part of the armed forces community shapes childhood and positive futures.
  • Educators, professionals, and policymakers don’t know enough about the lives these young people lead and need to feel equipped to support them at the right time.
  • Policy surrounding young people from armed forces communities falls to both United Kingdom and Scottish Governments which means the rights of this group can fall between the gaps.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Youth Parliament will help to increase Forces Children Scotland’s ability to increase its influence and address each element.

Doing so will help to go a long way to ensure young people from armed forces and veteran families across Scotland will have their rights upheld and feel increasingly heard, understood, respected, and represented.

“I am so happy to hear the charity is an Associate Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. I can’t wait to see how this partnership helps other young people from armed forces communities in the future.”

Heather, a member of Forces Children Scotland’s Youth Forum

Meg Thomas, Deputy CEO and Policy Lead for Forces Children Scotland, said:

“Forces Children Scotland is excited to become an Associate Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP).

“Membership will support young people to deliver of our influencing strategy: A Force for Meaningful Change by creating opportunities for them to be involved in SYP projects, contribute their unique views and experiences to SYP’s consultation responses, and access SYP training activities.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the MSYPs to ensure decision-makers listen to and include young people in the making decisions.”

“We’re excited to be joining forces and welcoming Forces Children Scotland to the Scottish Youth Parliament as an Associate National Voluntary Organisation. This new partnership will mean SYP can connect with more young people through voluntary organisations than ever before. It’s important to us at SYP that we work with seldom heard groups and ensure their views are represented when we engage with decision makers.”

– Chair of SYP, Mollie McGoran MSYP

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