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Young Everyday Heroes and MSPs form super team to tackle gender-based violence

Young heroes swooped into the Scottish Parliament to deliver a superpowered message to politicians and ask for better support for children and young people with experience of gender-based violence.

The Everyday Heroes meet Christina McKelvie MSP (second from right)

Children and young people from the Everyday Heroes project helped MSPs become superheroes for the day, and gave their recommendations about how to improve outcomes for survivors of gender-based violence.

Politicians praised the Everyday Heroes and pledged that their recommendations would be listened to.

Everyday Heroes is a partner project designed to give a voice to children and young people across Scotland who have experienced gender-based violence. It enables them to use their own experiences to improve the journeys of young abuse survivors through services and the justice system.

Everyday Heroes was designed and coordinated by the Equally Safe Participation Partnership of young and adult experts from University of Edinburgh, Barnardo’s Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

A wide group of children and young people across Scotland were asked their perspectives on gender inequality and societal attitudes. Their calls for action were revealed in a series of Everyday Heroes project reports released this week.

The reports were followed by an event at Parliament on Thursday 29 November where some of the Everyday Heroes met the Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie MSP; Scotland’s Solicitor General, Alison Di Rollo; and COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson, Midlothian Councillor Kelly Parry. The event was hosted by Sandra White MSP.

The politicians answered questions from the children and young people, and offered their support to improve outcomes for survivors of gender-based violence.

The event took place during the international initiative ‘Hear Me Too: 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls’.

Christina McKelvie MSP said: “I am very pleased to hear of the work you have done to improve how we respond to gender-based violence. Your recommendations will be shared across government, public bodies and services to help us change the way we support young people like yourselves. I realise that this experience may have been very difficult for some of you, and I applaud your courage in sticking with it and sharing your story with us.”

Project lead Dr Claire Houghton from University of Edinburgh's School of Social and Political Science said: “It has been a privilege to hear from young people across Scotland through this programme. The stories of young abuse survivors make stark reading. It was heartening to hear the politicians commit to action to improve services, educate our teachers and students on gender-based violence, and make the justice system safer, quicker and less traumatising. The articulate, brave young advocates at the event demonstrated that they have the experience and expertise to work with adults to make Scotland more equal and safe.”

The new Everyday Heroes reports recommend action to improve services, justice and education responses; tackle gender inequality and societal attitudes; and ensure sustained participation of young abuse survivors, children and young people in taking these actions forwards. The recommendations are based on a consultation with 125 children and young people, including 71 young abuse survivors, supported by 17 organisations and a Scotland-wide survey of 439 young people across all 32 local authorities.

The reports are on the Everyday Heroes website.

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