“YouthTalk”: positively engaging young people in Edinburgh

Published date13 June 2017
Date13 June 2017
AuthorEvelyn Kilmurry
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,HR in libraries,Library strategy,Library promotion
YouthTalk: positively engaging
young people in Edinburgh
Evelyn Kilmurry
City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the multi-agency approach adopted in Liberton/
Gilmerton, Edinburgh in Scotland to positively involve young people in shaping local service provision and to
tackle rising anti-social behaviour. The approach and methodology of the engagement process used is
described in detail in order to enable other authorities and services to learn from established practice.
Design/methodology/approach The approach was developed over two years and saw the expression of
over 1,500 young peoples views, which influenced 40 local statutory and voluntary services to deliver on over
70 pledges locally to improve service provision in direct response to expressed need.
Findings The paper summarises the positive outcomes delivered as a result of the work which has
transformed the way that partners plan, design and deliver their services locally, and has resulted in many
significant outcomes including a 17 per cent drop in youth crime, young peopleopening their own Youth Cafe,
and launching their annual YouthTalk Awards Event. The initiative has been held up by the HMIe as a model
of best practice, and is being replicated across the city through other library locations as a successful way to
engage young people in improving the quality of life in their communities.
Practical implications The paper includes implications for the development of library and other services
to work in an integrated way to positively engage with young people in order for them to be included in
decision-making processes.
Originality/value This paper contributes to the studies on best practice in working positively with
young people.
Keywords Library management, Edinburgh city libraries, Engaging young people, Youth engagement,
Youth-led facilities review, YouthTalk
Paper type Case study
Edinburgh city libraries and information services
Background/partnership working
For a number of years, in common with other communities across Edinburgh (Scotland), young
people living in the South of the city in Liberton/Gilmerton had been perceived locally as being
up to no good. Much of that stemmed from a number of high profile anti-social behaviour
incidents which although having taken place a number of years back had left a negative
perception of young people in local residents minds. Thelocal community planning body, the
Liberton/Gilmerton Neighbourhood Partnership, recognised the need to actively involve young
people in a positive way in tackling these issues and it was the local library service that took
forward YouthTalkas an innovative partnership approachin youth engagement. Thework
has served to effectively tackle the negative perceptions that previously existed in the wider
community about young people, and has served to reduce anti-social behaviour, whilst
improving service provision as a whole across the neighbourhood.
The communitiesof Liberton Gilmertonaresituated to the South of Edinburgh,and have
a populationof c.33,000 (3,218 11-18 year olds[1]).The five geographical communities[2] within
the neighbourhood are ranked within the top 10 per cent datazones for deprivation.
The Liberton Gilmerton Neighbourhood Partnershipis one of 12 Partnerships across thecity,
each acting as an advisory committee to the City of Edinburgh Council, which were
established to take forward local community planning. Membership of the Partnership
includes elected members, the community, voluntary sector, police and health, supported by
Council Officers working to engage local people in improving the quality of life in their
neighbourhoods.In Liberton/Gilmerton,the YouthTalk Action Group was the Neighbourhood
PartnershipSub Group which oversaw thework to Positively EngageYoung Peopleand the
Library Management
Vol. 38 No. 4/5, 2017
pp. 203-207
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LM-12-2016-0090
Received 5 December 2016
Revised 5 December 2016
Accepted 7 February 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
young people
in Edinburgh

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