From February to June 2021, young people from across the Highlands participated in three youth-led Growing2gether In the Community (ITC) programmes where they created and delivered community projects related to Covid-19. In addition, three Young Leaders were recruited to assist in the delivery of the youth-led programmes. They were supported by the Facilitators and were given training to build their confidence and leadership skills.
Young people at Inverness High School explored the topic of anxiety and depression by producing some amazing Graffiti art. This piece of artwork will be included in the exhibition space dedicated to the work of young people at Eden Court, Scotland’s largest arts organisation. Check out the film below by Rhys Campbell, Highlife Highland’s Youth Development Officer, which explores the young people’s thinking behind the art work. The film of the project will be shown at Highland Youth Parliament this Autumn where this year’s theme centres on mental health.
Charleston Academy Growing2gether in the Community Project
Young people at Charleston Academy held a Young Carers virtual event on the 27th May 2021. This topic was chosen as the group felt that young carers needed support and fun, especially during the pandemic. In addition, this topic was very close to the hearts of three of the young carers in the group.
The group sent out a survey to 300 young carers to ascertain their needs and as a result of the survey, the group hosted a series of online events including a cookery class, a pet show and tell and an art competition. For each project, the young people are tasked with finding a local mentor who are experts in the topic of their project. The role of community mentor on the Carers project was filled by Heather Mackenzie, community worker for Connecting Carers who provided so much support throughout the project. The feedback from the young carers about the virtual event was overwhelmingly positive with special mention for the ‘cooking as the food was delicious’.
Inter-school In the Community Programme
Young people from Dingwall Academy, Tain Academy, Milburn Academy and Inverness Royal Academy joined forces to create an animation focusing on the day in the life of a nurse. This youth-led project was the first time Growing2gether had run an inter-school project and was made possible by being delivered online. The nursing community was close to the heart of one of the participants whose Aunt is a nurse and another young person’s Mum and Gran were nurses. The close connection to the nursing community within the group meant that the group were seeing and hearing first-hand about the impact the pandemic was having on the physical and emotional wellbeing of their families. After speaking to relatives who were nurses, the group decided to create an animation which would encourage hospital visitors and patients to be more kind to nurses. The group came up with the idea of a storyline involving ‘Nurse Susan’ and what happens to her during her working day; the challenges and rewards of her job. The community mentor for this project was J Fraser MacDonald, who is a freelance animator. He provided much-needed support and professional advice to the group. The completed animation will be promoted through NHS Highland’s social media networks.
Our Young Leaders
Young Leaders are a fundamental part of the In the Community programmes. This is a paid role where young people aged 16-18 years old, assist in the delivery of the programme and receive training and support from our facilitators to build their leadership and communication skills.
Layla* was a 16-year-old Young Leader on the Inverness High School project in the February-June 2021 cohort. She shared her thoughts on her experiences as a Young Leader on the programme:
“It was good to learn something new, a new skill and to see the others develop skills too and to come together to create something good that had a message to it. Although I was friends with most of the people on the project, I learnt more about them as people as we were dealing with a sensitive topic and people were really open about their experiences. I would say that during the project, I developed teamwork skills and how to compromise on ideas. The planning and time-keeping skills I learned were also useful in the project.”
*Name changed to protect her identity.
These projects would not have been possible without the funding of BBC Children In Need and Youth Futures Foundation who are supporting these projects through the Inspiring Futures programme as well as the National Lottery Community Fund who are supporting these projects through Young Start. Our evaluation shows that the projects made a huge difference to the participants, increasing their employment and life skills, building their mental health and increasing their engagement with their community.