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A Year in Reflection with Intercultural Youth Scotland

Intercultural Youth Scotland
December 21, 2022

Scotland in Colour 2022

Our annual festival took on a new format this year with the aim of making it more accessible and family orientated, as well as delivering a fantastic programme of live Scottish BPoC music and collaboration.

We brought together a great community project which would see IYS collaborate with Pianodrome, Tinderbox Collective and Drake Music Scotland to create an impression show at The Old Royal High.

IYS were able to showcase the talent of our young people, as well as a live show of some of the most influential BPoC Scottish artists hosted in one of Edinburgh Council’s new regeneration projects to invigorate The Old Royal High as The Music School of Edinburgh. Being part of a little bit of history is significant as it seems like a nod to the old, and a celebration of the new. What better way to commemorate this new transformation venture, than to have a gathering of some of the best Scottish BPoC talent under one roof!  

The day also included live art from artist Ursula Cheng, fresh food from Knights Kitchen, interactive chalk and pavement murals, a henna artist and gem tooth specialist on site – all the while, our young people gave incredible performances at the Pianodrome Amphitheatre.

We want to thank all our partners all performers, partners and everyone that attended. We were so glad that so many came to celebrate with us and even more proud of our young people!

Check out the SiC 2022 gallery captured by Luther-Michael (@shotsbyluther) and join us in 2023 for Scotland in Colour to experience this incredible event for yourself!  

Watch our Scotland in Colour 2022 video to see what you missed! Filmed by (@k4u_visuals)

IYS Mental Health Service

Racism has a negative impact on most young Black people and young People of Colour's (BPOC) mental health, whether it is through personal experience, hearing or reading about incidents of racism faced by others (including through online media and news reports). In counselling, children and young people describe racism as leading to feelings of isolation, hurt, anger, fear, feeling unmotivated and pessimistic about their future.  

The unmet mental health needs of BPOC Scottish young people, with its roots in underlying racial health inequalities, was drawn into clear light by the Covid-19 pandemic. Relevant mental health support options for BPOC young people are rare, with previous specialised services struggling to secure stable, long-term funding.

With funding from the Scottish Government Equalities Unit, IYS set out to establish a reliable, relevant and free Mental Health Service for BPoC children and young people in Scotland, curated by Mental Health Manager, Nina Abesuriya.

Today, Intercultural Youth Scotland offers counselling for young BPOC, aged 12-25 based in Scotland.  

Counselling or therapy aims to create a safe space for BPOC young people to discuss anything that may be causing distress, concern or uneasiness, is not limited to any specific subject, life event or experience. Young people can access this online, with up to 12 counselling sessions available, depending on your needs. These sessions are confidential and free.  

Our Mental Health service is delivered by specialised counsellors all have an understanding of racial trauma, and centre race and racism in their practice. As an organisation, this has been one of the most important support services we could provide, and we continue to create and develop this service with the ambition to not only set an example to mental health sectors, but to bring clarity and hope to young minds.  

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, click here!


Youth Advocacy Panel

Through our advocacy work, we make sure voices of young Black people and young People of Colour are heard by policy-makers and in key decision-making processes and advocate for them to have a space to do so themselves.

During the Summer, our Advocacy Team began to establish a new youth-led group which would shape anti-racist change in Scotland – The Youth Advocacy Panel.

This panel would be a passionate collective of BPOC individuals, aged 16-25, who will create anew system for keeping Scottish Governance accountable on anti-racism.

This paid opportunity went on to recruit 5 brilliant Black and POC young people to lead in this new programme of advocacy. Since joining, our Youth Advocacy Panel have:

  • Began working together to review and shape the development of a national accountability structure for antiracism.
  • Deepened their anti-racist knowledge and contribute to making real change in Scotland.
  • Developed policy-making, campaigning and movement building skills.
  • Have access to IYS’ mental health and employment service and one-to-one support.
  • Elected a member within their collective to represent the panel at the Scottish Government Interim Governance Group to develop National Anti-Racist Accountability and Oversight.

Intercultural Youth Scotland is very excited to see what these young people accomplish, and they have our full support every step of the way – a movement indeed!

BBC 1XTRA Future Figures

Future Figures 1Xtra Future Figures celebrates and champions those who have made an impact within the Black community that will leave a legacy in years to come. This year's list includes talent from across a broad range of sectors including the arts, technology, social action, business and music.

‘Following on from the success of 2021's inaugural 1Xtra Future Figures, celebrating Black British movement makers, BBC 1Xtra is back this year celebrating 20 pivotal individuals, groups and organisations from across the UK ‘Making Black History Now.’

2022 saw Intercultural Youth Scotland featured on this incredible list of movement makers. Listen to our Head of Comms, Chidera Chukwujekwu, discussing what we do with BBC 1XTRA. Click on this year's Future Figures 2022 to see all the amazing people and organisations who are alongside IYS.

Anti - Racist Education

Our education team have recently completed research for National Museums and Galleries Scotland. They had produced resources and asked us to gather feedback from the young people we worked with. With most expressing their gratitude to be introduced to Black Scottish history and culture, which rarely makes its way onto school curriculums.

It's a reminder of how cutting edge our work as an Education Team is, bringing these histories into schools that have ignored, and continue to ignore, them.

Our Education lead Samie Mansoor delivered an epic keynote speech at Children 1st annual conference with Children in Scotland at Murrayfield Stadium. This coincides with Education’s collaboration report between IYS & Children in Scotland. Look out for this early next year!

The Impact Report  

It was in 2019, we extended our work not just in youth work and arts, but in advocacy, education, mental health support, and employability. Last year saw us grow our legitimacy in all of these areas and find new ways to engage with young Black people and people of colour who might need or want our support.  

The findings in the report breakdown the positive affects created by each of our teams in Youth Work, Education, Mental Health, Advocacy, and Restless Natives, and the challenges each team faced, as well as their accomplishments, to meet the needs of our service users during and after such an incredible time of change.  

‘We hope that this report will give you a glimpse of what IYS has been up to in 2021. It’s important to us that our communities can see what we’ve been doing, and that those in positions of power can see what we can achieve as a community!’

Intercultural Youth Scotland is Scotland‘s leading organisation in anti-racism, and our validity can be seen in our extensive growth from 2019 to 2022. Within these short years we have increased our partnership and funding, which consequently increased our staff members and team capacity, and brought further development to our programmes and services! IYS also stated our position, not just within the third sector, but to the general public, when we moved to our official Head Quarters in Haymarket. This formal decision allows for more agency, influence and representation - and adds weight to our mission statement. We offer a safe place for BPOC young people to learn, share, grow, and advocate for themselves. We work closely within Scottish schools and with the Scottish Parliament - grass roots to political reform ...This is a movement.  

To access the full report – Read Here.

Museums (Re)told – The Legacy Report  

Intercultural Youth Scotland are immensely proud of this collaboration report written by Intercultural Youth Scotland Youth Researchers Supported by IYS Staff & Lead Researcher Miura Lima. We’re also glad to report that Miura Lima later became Youth Advocacy Lead for IYS’ Youth Panel.

Current literature suggests that museums and galleries have now started to acknowledge the need to implement change in their current structures, spurred by wider public debates around racial inequality. There is a need for museums and galleries to take accountability for their past and move towards actions to decolonise themselves. It is crucial they carry out self-reflection to acknowledge their role in contributing to the omission of history. Furthermore, participants believed that it is important for museums and galleries to acknowledge the harm created while embarking on decolonising itself...

This report was commissioned by Museums and Galleries Scotland as part of the Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums project (ESSM) and is authored by youth researchers and Intercultural Youth Scotland. This participatory research was based on the principles of ethnographic research and was designed to minimise the power imbalances between the researcher and participants.  

The collaboration report focused on how the legacies of empire, enslavement and colonialism impact upon the lives and culture of members of Black communities and communities of Colour in Scotland today, and how this is represented in Scottish museums and galleries collections – their findings were staggering, Read Here

Block Beats wins BBC Introducing LOCAL HERO Award

This year IYS was put forward for the Local Hero category of the AIM Independent Music Awards 2022.  

The Independent Music Awards and BBC Introducing Scotland teamed up again for 2022 to present a series of awards to music initiatives making changes and creating opportunities within the music community, and IYS represented Scotland. Lindsey Giles from BBC Introducing nominated IYS’ Block Beats music studio this year, and WE WON!  

The Local Hero Award recognises those who have committed unwavering support for their local music community. The category is nominated by BBC Music Introducing presenters across the nation, who select the winners based on making lasting change and providing support, expertise, or funds.

IYS continues to be staggered by the amazing talent of our young people, and endeavours to create live performance opportunities at our events and partnership events. Why not check out one of our many talented people, Danny Cliff and listen to the excellent production by Block Beats.  

What a year its been for us and as we sign off for the break, we want to thank everyone that has contributed to the year we have had. See you in the new year!

This is a movement.

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