Anja Johnston from Thurso will take up the role of Highland Youth Convener early in May 2021 This full-time role is a bursary position that will run for 12 months.
The 24-year-old, has previously worked as an Assistant Youth Worker, delivering the YOJO digital youth project with High Life Highland. Anja is actively involved in volunteering with the Scouts Scotland, having held various roles across multiple levels looking specifically at youth involvement and ensuring that scouting is “youth shaped” at all levels.
As Youth Convener, Anja provides a consistent link for Elected Members and senior officials in The Highland Council, representing young people’s views and will act as a sounding board for youth issues in the Highlands. Anja will attend Council and Community Planning Partner meetings and has full voting rights on the Education Committee with speaking rights at all other Council Committees.
The Youth Convener works closely with young people across the Highlands through Highland Youth Parliament, Area Youth Forums and Pupil Councils in Secondary Schools. Anja will maintain the links between organisations and partners already established by previous Youth Conveners and will be seeking to develop new connections with organisations across the Highlands.
Anja will be the 13th Youth Convener since 2007.
Anja said, “I am very proud and excited to be taking on such an important role within the Highlands. The Highlands are such a vast area which makes this no easy task, but I believe that my previous work, personal and voluntary experiences and with the support and backing of a wonderful team around me, the next 12 months will be a positive and fulfilling time for young people in the Highlands.
“I am incredibly passionate about youth voice and as we move through the various stages of the pandemic, these voices are going to become very important in the recovery effort. I am looking to build on what the previous youth convenor had started, to build connections with groups across the Highlands.
“Young people have already voiced what matters to them now and with this in mind I am looking at building and delivering a strategy with a key focus on mental health. I want to be open and approachable to young people and for them to feel that they can talk to me in confidence. By having these conversations, we can start to build a true picture of what services young people need in the Highlands.
“These next 12 months are going to be challenging as the role, like many others, has changed from face to face to digital but this opens up many doors that have previously been closed to us and I hope it will expand the reach of the Youth Convener.”
The Leader of the Highland Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: “The Highland Youth Convener post is unique in Scotland and I have had the privilege of working alongside all of the previous 12 Youth Conveners. Each of them has played an important role in helping us better understand and engage with issues affecting our young people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their contribution as we welcome Anja to the job. Anja joins us at a very interesting and challenging time as we drive forward economic and social recovery from Covid-19 that has impacted across all Highland communities, especially the lives and learning of so many young people. It is more important than ever before that going forward, we not only hear the views of young people but get them involved in decision making processes which could have an impact on their future. I am sure that Anja will find the role very rewarding and will enjoy becoming a very able, active and persuasive champion who will have a direct input into our policy and decision-making process. On behalf of all my fellow councillors, welcome and we look forward to working with you.”
Steve Walsh, High Life Highland Chief Executive concluded, “The role of the Youth Convenor is an exciting opportunity and pivotal in representing young people in different settings and at different levels of decision making to ensure the views of young people are heard across the Highlands. Anja will be working alongside our youth development team, and I look forward to seeing them come together providing support and guidance to bring the new remit and structure to life over the coming year.”