Communities working together to improve the lives of Scotland's young people
What is the Planet Youth story?
Planet Youth is in it's infancy in Scotland but is based upon over 20 years of success in Iceland, when the country's communities came together to improve the lives of young people.
At the time Iceland was struggling with their teenagers excessive use of alcohol, smoking, and other 'risky behaviours'. They also saw their young people spending more time outside of the home unsupervised, leading to more risk-taking and less time engaging in safer and more positive activities, including quality family time.
Everyone decided to come together as a community to tackle these challenges that had been part of their culture for years.
They started by asking the young people themselves what their lives were like, through the use of completely anonymous surveys. The survey results gave communities and decision-makers a snapshot into the lives of their teenagers; what they were doing with their time, with who, and what activities they were engaging in. This shaped local solutions around reducing risk and increasing safe and positive routines.
The results allowed for the wider community to make small steps to change things for the better. Twenty years later Icelandic teenagers are seen as the 'cleanest living in Europe'.
Local groups, known as 'coalitions' use the survey results to create local action plans, which could include encouraging more family time, supporting young people in taking part in after-school clubs, and discourage use of alcohol and other risk-taking behaviours such as vaping.
What does Planet Youth mean for Scotland?
Scotland has been struggling with similar challenges to Iceland with young people engaging in significant levels of risky behaviours, and increasing levels of mental health concerns.
The graph below shows the comparison of Icelandic stats for drinking alcohol, smoking, and drug use compared to Scotland in 2021.
We believe that we could achieve a similar downward trajectory of these activities by adapting the Icelandic model to fit the Scottish context. This means ensuring that we take into account the factors that affect Scotland and it's communities, in order to build a happier and healthier country.
Change takes time and effort. But if we employ the long-term commitment and consistency needed to make positive changes, then the outcomes will be felt for generations to come.
In 2023 the Scottish Government announced a £1.5 million investment in Planet Youth in Scotland over the course of two years. This means that partners can be better supported in planning and making changes within their communities as part of their commitment to the programme.
How does the Planet Youth in Scotland journey work?
The graphic below shows the journey involved with Planet Youth Scotland.
The Planet Youth team provide their support every step of the way, and are on hand to provide guidance the partner teams, which include parents and carers, and schools who are committed to their journey to strengthening the ambition of our young people through positive activities and mindset.
Planet Youth in Scotland progress
Change takes time, commitment and dedication. We currently have six regional partner gr who have dedicated themselves to being a part of the change that aims to transform Scotland to enable new opportunities for young people, and make the wider community feel happier and more content.
We are proud to be working with the following partners across the country:
Argyll & Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership and Argyll & Bute Education
Dundee City Council
Highland Alcohol and Drug Partnership and Highland Health and Social Care Partnership
West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership
Angus Council and Health and Social Care Partnership
Senior Health Improvement Specialist, NHS Highland
We’re driving forward with Planet Youth because we want our young people to feel supported, connected, healthy, and confident in their ability to make positive decisions. And ultimately, we want to see a reduction in the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and all the associated benefits that can come from that.
Parent, The Highlands
This is an excellent and brave idea! A lot of these aspirations fit well with my own and how the community could help young people.