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18 November 2022

Action plan co-created to widen opportunities for youth engagement

Youth volunteers share their vision for a heritage sector that is more reflective of young people’s needs.

four young people and two representatives from Young Scot and two representatives from HES pictured in front of the National Monument on Calton Hill

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Young Scot volunteers have created a dynamic partnership to support the organisation in widening its engagement, participation, and involvement of young people in its delivery activity and decision-making processes.

Known as the HistoricScot Youth Forum - 25 young people, aged between 11-25, from 15 local authority areas, worked closely with HES to explore how their ideas could be tested out before finally creating their Youth Action Plan. Over the course of the last year, the young people took part in working groups, meetings, workshops, volunteering, and the development of 4 prototypes. This has culminated in a set of key recommendations that outline a series of actions aimed at improving youth engagement and accessibility across sites and online whilst providing more opportunities for young people to be involved in the work HES do. At its core, the Youth Action Plan sets out recommendations to help create a heritage sector that is more engaging, accessible, inclusive, diverse, equitable, decolonising and climate aware.

HES and Young Scot started this partnership in 2019. In 2020, the HistoricScot Youth Forum was established and in 2021 a report was published with recommendations on how to make the heritage sector more reflective of young people’s needs. The Youth Action Plan culminates in the group’s key learnings and experiences throughout the entirety of this two-year project.

Robyn, 21, South Lanarkshire explained:

“I have been a part of the project since the very start because I wanted to encourage and empower historically under-represented young people to see themselves in Scotland’s history and heritage.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the project getting to see how our original ideas way back at the start have developed into fully-fledged reports and prototypes two years on.

“Overall, I hope that the work we have done paves the way for heritage and history to continue to look at widening opportunities to reflect the wide diversity of young people in Scotland.”

Kirsten Urquhart, CEO, Young Scot said:

“The HistoricScot Youth Forum hopes the legacy of their priorities will help HES to challenge, re-evaluate and reveal any unconscious influences that impact decision-making and internal processes.

“The Forum’s overall vision for heritage is that it’s accessible to everyone, and believe this can be achieved through co-creation, sincerity, accountability, adaptability, and creativity.

“This has been an enriching experience for the Forum members who hope their work will have a positive change on young people, and for young people’s experiences and continued involvement in shaping the future of Scotland’s heritage sector.”

Alison Turnbull, Director of External Relations and Partnerships at HES said:

“This project has been invaluable in addressing how as an organisation we can introduce long-term system change and ensure that youth voices are embedded into how we deliver activities and make decisions.

“As a team, we’ve really enjoyed the entire process of co-designing with the HistoricScot Youth Forum. This has involved working groups, visiting sites, volunteering, meetings, work in schools, workshops and the development of prototypes to test out the ideas that have contributed to the final Youth Action Plan. I look forward to working on the next steps to implement these actions.”

Read the report now

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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For further information, please contact:

Laura Ely
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962

Out of hours: mediaoffice@hes.scot or 07721 959 962