Scotland’s themed Year of Young People aims to inspire the country through its young people’s ideas, attitudes, and ambitions, and in the Outer Hebrides, the summer has been packed with ‘Year of Young People’ activities featuring everything from sports competitions to tea parties – and there are even more exciting events lined up for the months to come.
The Lewis Provincial Mòd was a successful one this year, taking place on the 5th-8th of June and seeing pupils from primary and secondary schools across the island take to the stage in Stornoway to compete in everything from folk group performances to solo Gaelic singing.
Over the last two years, the Education Department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has rejuvenated its apprenticeship scheme in the Western Isles, widening its scope, increasing the number of opportunities available, and placing it squarely within the economic strategy and needs of the region.
Dìleab – which means “legacy” in Gaelic – is an ambitious intergenerational bilingual project that explores the legacy of four major social influences on the Outer Hebrides over the last century, bringing in participants that range from school pupils to local musicians.
When it comes to “doing something different” at university, as the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) prospectus advertises, you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere more unique to study traditional music than at the Lews Castle College campus on the Isle of Benbecula.
When it comes to Gaelic education, Lews Castle College UHI has a unique offering. “We are situated in what is the strongest Gaelic-speaking community in the world,” says lecturer Angela Weir. “Nowhere else are there as many Gaelic speakers as there are in the Western Isles.”
On the Isle of Berneray, neither locals nor visitors will be able to miss the brand new, bright blue Berneray Shop and Bistro, located just a few minutes from the ferry terminal and the causeway linking the island to North Uist.
It’s not often I encounter a fellow Leodhasach (native of Lewis) in a New York City bar, let alone six of them at once – but that’s exactly the situation I found myself in March 2018 at Rockwood Music Hall, located in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side.
Data published in February 2018 and presented to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport, and Children’s Services Committee on April 24th shows that young people in the Western Isles continue to perform better than their peers nationally across almost all educational measures.
Who Cares? Scotland is a national third sector advocacy and membership organisation that works with care- experienced and other young people in a range of different ways. In the last year in the Western Isles, the work of Who Cares? Scotland has been wide-ranging, from independent advocacy work to the organisation of fun events for young people throughout the islands.