Scottish Young People United for Change: MCR National Conference

Opened by a rousing performance from the MCR Choir, more than 60 Young Scottish Talent ambassadors led the day at the 2nd MCR National Conference on 18th April. Through an afternoon of powerful presentations and interactive workshops, our young people asked the audience to see beyond the ‘face’ we all hide behind when encountering mental health challenges.

Read on for some of our favourite moments of the day!

One Good Adult

Kicking off the presentations, Ambassadors Dylan and Diane, both S5, explored the concept of ‘One Good Adult’. Microphone in hand, Dylan went into the crowd and asked attendees to share, “who are good adults? Why are they important? What does a young person actually need?” 

Next, St Roch’s Secondary Depute Headteacher Tommy, Pathways Coordinator Danielle, Ambassador Paula & her mentor Joanne took us back to school. They discussed the vital links between educational environments and mental health and well-being. The partnership between schools and MCR ensures that every pupil reaches their potential through education.

“Really inspiring performances this afternoon, it makes a big difference having young people presenting it and you can see the difference [MCR] makes to them.” Paul, attendee

“I’ve been really passionate about the programme for years now because I can see it’s something that works. But it’s more than the numbers – I can see the difference in individual young people. It’s the relationships, it’s creating an environment of openness.” Tommy Donnelly, Depute Headteacher, St Roch’s Secondary School

Animations, Workshops & More!

Our brilliant team of young animators shared their video, “Brave; Not Broken,” which shows a day in the life of two young people and their struggles with mental health. In this touching video, the characters learn that “keeping it in” can actually cause their problems to grow. Please take a minute to watch on YouTube and share.

Our ambassadors also led a workshop designed around ‘The Ripple Effect’ of mentoring. They took us through the stages of the mentoring relationship, which prompted attendees to sign up themselves or think of someone they think would make a great mentor.

Ambassadors Jack & Hayley bravely shared their own struggles and described the interventions that have supported them through challenging times and helped build their resilience.

“With my mentor, Charlie, I can truly be myself. Charlie has been beside me the whole way. He’s shared how he got through tough times in his life. He’s helped me focus. He’s helped me think I could go to college which is something I’ve never believed before.” Jack, Inverurie Academy

Interviewing the Expert Panel

Our Expert Panel was interviewed by young people who ask questions specially about young people’s mental health. It was a brilliant example of us working together to find ways to improve lives and build a Scotland that values mental health and well-being for people of all ages. The panel, included:

  • Fiona Duncan– Chair of the Independent Care Review
  • Maureen McKenna – Glasgow City Council Executive Director of Education
  • John Swinney – Deputy First Minister & Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Sir Harry Burns – Professor of Global Public Health

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, reflected:

“The MCR Pathways project provides crucial support for care experienced children and young people across Scotland and some of the results of the programme have been truly inspiring.

“Closing the attainment gap is this government’s number one priority and school-based mentoring schemes like the MCR Pathways programme have a significant part to play in helping us achieve this aim.

MCR Founder, Iain MacRitchie shared his vision for the future. Stepping into the ‘Tardis’, he described looking forward to a time where circumstances and postcodes have no impact on the young people’s life chances:

“Think about the ability to talk to someone, to share. Think about a time where that’s expressed. Think about a time where resilience is celebrated. I think this vision of the future is not that far away. Our young people are trusting, they’re building relationships. We know that this will become a right for all our young people.”
Iain MacRitchie, MCR Pathways Founder

Closing the day, our brilliant ambassadors again took the stage for a final word. Mental health isn’t an easy topic for anyone, no matter your age. Our young people shared their powerful message: no matter the adversity they face, they are resilient, they are brave and they are never broken. We hope this message shines on.

Thank You!

Thanks to the support of their mentors, our young people have developed the bravery, resilience, commitment & motivation they needed to host such a fantastic day. Across Scotland, there are so many young people who need that support to blossom. Can you become a mentor and help a young person in your community? Can you host an info session in your workplace? Please share and pass the power of mentoring on to your friends, family and colleagues.

We look forward to sharing more pics of the day and please keep an eye out for our short film of the event.

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