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Schools and youth groups across Dumfries and Galloway got involved in Welcome to Your Vote Week from 30 January to 5 February 2023. Two members of Dumfries & Galloway Youth Council reflect on what they got up to throughout the week and how they started the conversation about democracy with other young people.
Blog from Finlay and Riley
Hello, we’re Finlay (age 17) and Riley (age 16) from Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council, an elected group of 35 young people aged 12-25 from across the region who represent the views of youth voice and youth democracy to the regional council and other partners.
Throughout Welcome to Your Vote Week, young people in Dumfries and Galloway participated in a large variety of activities. During Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council’s weekly meeting, we went through the Welcome to Your Vote Week presentation and took part in structured debate on a wide range of issues. The materials effectively helped to spark these debates on issues such as traffic around schools, compulsory education, and a lively discussion about who has the power to make these decisions.
Throughout the four localities in Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway Council's Youth Work Service spent time with multiple groups going through the Welcome to Your Vote Week packs. These packs were used to inform young people across Dumfries and Galloway about the role they can play in democracy and how important their vote is. Youth Work D&G also did a social media campaign, spreading the word about Welcome to Your Vote Week and the voices of young people in relation to democracy. The activities and information provided by the Electoral Commission during this week has opened up democracy to many young people, and especially allowed them to learn about the work of Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council. We hope young people will now have the confidence to participate in Youth Democracy, and get involved in the upcoming by-elections to the Dumfries and Galloway Youth Council, whether it be voting or standing as a candidate themselves.
On Thursday 2 February, the Youth Council alongside candidates standing in the DG Youth Council by-elections as well as members of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Participation Group, attended First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament. During the day, we did a self-guided tour and attended a ten-minute talk about the history of the Scottish Parliament and devolved powers of the Scottish Government. We found the trip to be eye-opening, allowing us to see democracy at one of the highest levels in Scotland. We also had the experience to observe First Minister’s questions in front of our own eyes instead of a screen. It was fascinating to see active decisions being made which could impact people. It also allowed us to see the value in our vote and the impact it has on our society alongside individual communities.
Overall, Welcome to Your Vote Week has inspired many young people across our region to see democracy in a different light and how important their voice can actually be in decision making. We hope this discussion keeps going and continues to encourage fellow young people to use their right to vote and get involved in the decision-making process.
Photo outside the Scottish Parliament
Link to resources
Young people, youth groups and schools can access free learning resources for use all year round.