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Chloe and Kayleigh: Defending human rights in Inverness

Chloe and Kayleigh are two young Rights Defenders from Shetland. In this blog, they talk about their experiences at this year’s Human Rights Gathering on Rights Defenders.

Young people talking with Bruce and his staff at the Young People's Human Rights Gathering.

In late November we got the opportunity to travel to Inverness and take part in the Children and Young People’s Commissioner’s Young People’s Human Rights Gathering for 2018. It’s something Commissioner Bruce Adamson holds every year so that young people can get involved in his work and tell him ways his office can do things better.

This year’s Gathering was focused on how young people can support each other in being human rights defenders, promoting or protecting people’s rights. The young people there could learn about this from the Commissioner and his team, but we could also talk to each other about what we’d been doing to defend human rights.

On Friday when we arrived there was a welcome where we met Bruce and the people who work closely with him. We heard from his Rights Defenders Action Group, a group of young people who work passionately to protect the rights of others. It was interesting to hear about the incredible work they have done alongside Bruce. We into family groups at various points in the weekend to check up on how the weekend was going and to do activities.

On Saturday morning we departed the hostel. It was quite foggy, but the bus was still very enjoyable as everyone was singing and had positive expectations for the day ahead.

At the start of the day, we heard from three of Scotland’s representatives to this year’s European Network of Young Advisers (ENYA for short), who talked about the conferences they had attended in Barcelona and Paris earlier this year. ENYA allows young people from across Europe to discuss recommendations around a key issue for their human rights – this year, it was mental health – then put what they think’s important to
a network of Children and Young People’s Commissioners from across Europe. We then had some family time to start building our paper aeroplanes for the upcoming competition.

After this, we were put into workshop groups to take part in activities and workshops where we learned about human rights. We then got to learn some sign language, which was definitely the highlight of our weekend as it allowed us to communicate with all the young people who took part. At the end of the day, we took part in a very competitive paper aeroplane competition where all the family groups went against each other.

Later that night, we arrived at Kingsmill Hotel where we had dinner, danced and got to know each other more. We also listened to various speeches from the Depute Provost and Maree Todd.

There was another welcome on Sunday morning where we heard from a very talented cartoon artist who told us about his journey and issues he’s faced through his career. In our family groups we did a treasure hunt about human rights violations which taught us even more information about human rights. There was a feedback session where we had the chance to talk about how we found the weekend, anything we would change and just general thanks to everyone involved. Sadly, we then had to pick up our packed lunches and say goodbye to all our new friends.

Sunday was our final day, and it was very hard to say goodbye to everyone as we had gotten to know each other so well throughout the weekend. As well as getting to know each other at the event, we also played board games together and socialised at the hostel both nights.

We are very very grateful for this incredible experience that we loved every moment of and will never forget.

Learn about our Rights Defenders Action Group.