Posted on: October 26, 2022, by :

Disabled young people from across Dumfries and Galloway are being invited to get together for a special event on Wednesday 2nd November from 10am -3pm at The Bridge, Dumfries. The Youth Matters Conference is created by disabled young people, for disabled young people aged 12-25. This fun event has an important mission to ensure young people with additional support needs can take centre-stage and have their voices heard. They will share their views and make recommendations for what needs to happen for them to be able to live the lives they want as adults and equal citizens.

The event is organised by a young steering group lead by Lauren Asher and Chloe Dudgeon from D&G Youth Works, and supported by a team of established partner organisations. The Youth Matters team have arranged a fun day with workshops where experts can attend but cannot speak. The intention is for young people to be empowered to speak, and experts are expected to listen, reflect and to act on the insights they gain from the young delegates.

The day will be compered by Sarah Cronie, young Mentor at The Usual Place, and politics graduate Lewis Shaw, who also works at The Usual Place. The young delegates will be able to enjoy talks, fun workshops and activities and there will be an Instagram Wall, opportunities to design the playlist for the day, a Chill-Out Zone, Circus Skills and much more. Guest speakers include Bruce Adamson, Children’s Commissioner for Scotland, and members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, as well as PAMIS who will give a multi-sensory storytelling session entitled ‘I can if you can’. There will be BSL interpretation and live captions throughout the main sessions.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided by the team at The Usual Place – the award-winning café giving employability opportunities to young people with additional support needs. Dumfries & Galloway Council has also committed to enable transport to and from the venue for groups from across the region. Support workers from the partner organisations will also be on hand throughout the day and there will be information stands and delegate packs. Schools, Youth Groups and Resource Centres have been encouraged to enable young delegates to attend, and the aim is to include as many disabled young people as possible in the event itself. There is still time to book places for groups and individuals aged 12-25.

This will be the second ever Youth Matters Conference: the first was organised in 2011 by DGVoice and brought over 100 young people together to discuss the issues that mattered to them at that time, and to put their views to experts. The resulting suggestions and insights from that event enabled positive change for young people with additional support needs in the region, including the establishment of Inspired Community Enterprise Trust – the organisation that runs The Usual Place café and provides training for businesses in autism awareness. The agenda for Youth Matters 2022 includes discussions on various issues associated with friendship, relationships, health and wellbeing, work and volunteering, transport and education.

Heather Hall, CEO of Inspired Community Enterprise Trust, and co-organiser of the first conference in 2011, says: “We are delighted to see a repeat of Youth Matters for a new group of young people being taken forward by young people themselves. The first conference was a real eye-opener and it was inspiring to hear young people talk with such insight and determination about how to make the most of their lives and what they needed to help make that happen. We are very much looking forward to finding out more about what matters to today’s young people and to see the impact this event can create.

The young steering group have planned a fabulous day and have invited a wide range of organisations to support and enhance the core conference with displays, stalls and being on hand to talk to young people. The partner organisations are working together to help reach out to young people and all will have a role to play after the event in ensuring maximum, wide-ranging impact from the insights that come out of the day’s events. But at the core of everything, and what matters most… is that young people can get together, feel empowered, and have their say!”.


Partner organisations supporting the Youth Matters Conference include DG Voice, Youth Work Dumfries & Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway Council Education Department, Third Sector Dumfries & Galloway, PAMIS, The Usual Place, NHS Dumfries & Galloway. Youth Matters is supported by The Holywood Trust and The People’s Project.
Anyone interested in joining the event as a young delegate, or in bringing a group of young people to the event should contact for a delegate form.


Photo: Youth Matters Steering Group Members Abbi Williams, Luke Smith and Sarah Cronie at The Bridge, Dumfries