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Launching our Rights Defenders Action Group

Making sure our human rights are respected!

Image of the Rights Defenders shield with the young people's section highlighted.

Last month, Bruce – the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland – launched the Rights Defenders Action Group, which brings together young human rights defenders from across Scotland. Here, Action Group member Charlotte talks about how the first session went.

I am a young Scottish Traveller and an activist for my community.

Last month, Bruce – the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland – launched the Rights Defenders Action Group, which brings together young human rights defenders from across Scotland. Here, Action Group member Charlotte talks about how the first session went.

I am a young Scottish Traveller and an activist for my community.

I am part of Article 12 in Scotland’s Gypsy Traveller Youth Assembly of Scotland (GTYA), where I help represent young Gypsies and Travellers in things that matter to us. Recently, I was invited to become part of the human rights action group, led by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland— the one and only Bruce!

It was an amazing experience to meet the Commissioner. Bruce is a really lovely and open-minded guy from New Zealand (I found out after mistaking him for an Australian!) As the Commissioner, it’s his job to promote and safeguard children throughout the country— so he’s a pretty important guy.

At the meeting, I had the opportunity to meet with other young people from across the country, who have an interest in human rights and campaigning for their communities. Everyone was amazing, but I met this one girl who I found really interesting. The school she attended made funding cuts within certain programmes, one of them being music tuition. This meant people who were less well-off couldn’t further their education within the artsy subject.

She started campaigning by speaking to teachers at the school, stating that it wasn’t fair on the less fortunate— which I 100% agreed with. Eventually she was successful and got the music tuition back!

I think what she did was incredible, as she was so young and 90% of people would just have accepted the fact the funding had gone and swept it under the carpet.

We are all going to work together to create a human rights help website for young people. This will help to challenge human rights violations and also improve our own knowledge. Applying our different experiences and ideas will make sure that all young people feel included and supported.

We are also planning an event for young people which will be held in November, at the University of Highlands and Islands campus in Inverness. The event will be a series of group discussions, where young people will meet from all over Scotland from different backgrounds and social settings.

I’m really looking forward to this event and love hearing other people’s stories and different experiences that they’ve had throughout life. It’s also important that we share struggles that we’ve had to understand the impacts that they can have on us and society.

This is just the start for our ‘Action Group’; we are young people with lots of ideas and ambitions for change!

The word action is well suited to the purpose of the group, as we will take action where our human rights have been violated. The group will bring together young people from different backgrounds and cultures to raise awareness of and teach other young people all about our human rights.

Personally, the group made me feel very welcome and listened to. Also, being able to shape the projects and actions with my experiences of being a young Traveller made me feel valued.

I’m looking forward to working with Bruce and the rest of the team, as a representative of GTYA and young Gypsy/Travellers to create a better social setting for all youth in Scotland.

Making sure our human rights are respected!