Participation Roadshow

Our Roadshow project

The pandemic has limited our face-to-face engagement but our commitment to listening to and learning from children and young people has not changed.  

We created online Listening Days with the Commissioner to hear about the impact of Covid-19 and we have arranged in-person visits when it has been safe to do so.  

But we always want to do more to hear from children and young people in their own spaces and communities. They’ve told us that is the most valuable way of listening to them. So starting on World Children’s Day, 20 November 2021 until 31 March 2022, we are ‘on the road’.

What is the aim of the Roadshow?

Our roadshow – a programme for the Commissioner Bruce Adamson or his team to meet and work with as many children and young people as possible – will visit places we have not been able to travel to recently due to Covid-19 measures.  

We are especially interested in hearing from children and young people whose rights are most at risk, or who perhaps do not often get the opportunity to have their views listened to. 

We want to know what they think about all issues including poverty, education, mental health, climate justice, play, participation, youth justice, and making their rights real in law.  

There might be issues important to their own communities to talk about. 

But aren’t out of the pandemic yet, and we know that in-person work isn’t always possible. That’s why we are offering the opportunity for groups to have a virtual visit from our office in February and March.  

Get in touch with us if you would like a session with us. We will be filling virtual sessions first as they can definitely go ahead.


Haddo Woodland Kindergarten, Aberdeenshire

In November last year, our first roadshow visit was to Haddo Kindergarten, near Ellon, Aberdeenshire, to celebrate World Children’s Day. Children aged two to six explore their human rights through nature-based play at the outdoor nursery – and they enthusiastically shared their space with us. We had fun at the craft table, enjoyed books in the reading corner, and even climbed some trees. 

Layla, aged four, welcomed us into the nursery and said: “Bruce had a shot on our swing.” 

Nicola Harris, our Finance and Administration Assistant, said: “It was great to work with children face-to-face once again. Seeing their rights in practice was really uplifting and the staff and children have made Haddo a very warm and welcoming nursery.” 

Noble Primary School, North Lanarkshire

The Commissioner and two of the team visited Noble Primary School in North Lanarkshire – and were quickly in tune with pupils. 

Linda Ellis Macdonald, our Advice and Investigations Officer, said: “The entire school sang us their Rights Sea Shanty and we joined in. Pupils then gave us a terrific presentation on their work on the importance of children’s rights.” 

Commissioner Bruce said: “The whole group was given an extra playtime as a reward for their great presentation so I saw an opportunity to hand out some things from our office. I had a huge box of our stress stars, pens, pencils, bags, and various other things and was carrying them across the playground with about 50 children gathering around when the bottom fell out of the box – it was pretty spectacular! But the children were amazing. They helped pick it all up and then got it all laid out on some benches and a few of the P5s took charge of distribution, giving the other children choices about what they could have. The teamwork and interaction between them all was one of the best things I’ve seen in ages.” 

1st Fordell Firs Scouts, Fife

Commissioner Bruce and two members of the team visited 1st Fordell Firs Scout group in Dunfermline. Our office and the Scouts are launching a Rights Challenge Badge in the spring and the group worked on a pilot activity session for the badge. The Scouts each designed their own shield highlighting what’s important in their lives and what rights they would defend. 

Max, 11, said: “It’s important to know your rights so they can’t be taken away from you.” 

Ezmie McCutcheon, Head of Communications, said: “We all loved working on the shields. The key themes raised and rights the Scouts wanted to defend were family , friendships, learning, and having a say.”

Peebles High School, Scottish Borders

During our first digital session, we met young people from Peebles High School.

Participation Officer Kevin Browne-MacLeod said: “It was a very interactive session and the young people asked lots of insightful questions. They asked for advice on how they could influence government and how to make sure people listen to children and young people as well as asking Bruce about his motivation to becoming Commissioner.”

Edinburgh Judo Club, Edinburgh

Commissioner Bruce and Nicola from the team visited Edinburgh Judo, our first roadshow session in a sports club and had a great time seeing the incredible work they are doing. The children told us how much they loved being able to practise judo in person again after lockdown forced judo online, and talked about how important the sport is to them. One child said: “It’s good for our brains and body.”

Who Cares? Scotland’s Festival of Care  

Our roadshow left the mainland and rolled into Shetland in February. We focused on listening to care experienced children and young people, a group whose rights need special care and protection. Commissioner Bruce Adamson and Nicola Vallance-Ross, our Head of Corporate Services, took part in Who Cares? Scotland’s Festival of Care in Lerwick. 

This year’s theme was ‘Tending the Light’ and Bruce told the festival that it’s not enough for decision-makers to promise incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – they must keep that promise. 

Schools, youth clubs and projects. The participation roadshow tours Shetland     

Commissioner Bruce Adamson and Kevin Browne-Macleod, our Participation Officer, visited schools, youth clubs and projects over three days in February. 

First stop was Brae School, which has pupils from early years up to senior. Our team learned about their innovative human rights work and their strong youth work focus. 

One young person said: “It’s important we know our rights, how to keep ourselves safe, and what to do if someone isn’t upholding them.” 

Over to you: Young people tell our roadshow about living in poverty, their health, and education.

We have been on the road again, this time hitting three more stops as we worked alongside the Poverty and Inequality Commission, Children’s Health Scotland and Peebles High School . Read more to get a flavour of what children and young people told us about the issues of poverty, health and having their opinions heard.


When we talk to children and young people, you often ask us why you have a human rights convention of your own― the UNCRC. Why isn’t there a convention for adults?

But children and young people aren’t the only group of people who have a convention of your own.

Other groups do, too. For example, women have the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and people with disabilities have the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

There are two reasons why a group of people might have their own convention, and both of them apply to children and young people:

You’re less likely to have your rights respected

Human rights are for everyone, but not everyone is equally likely to have them respected in their lives.

Adults – including those in power who make decisions – might forget that they apply to children and young people.

That’s especially true because children and young people don’t have the same power adults do. You don’t have as much money as they do, and if you’re under 16 you can’t vote.

So the UNCRC exists to make it clear: human rights are for you.

It helps adults remember that children and young people are humans, just like them.

You have the right to special protection

It’s also true that as a child, you can be more at risk than adults are.

You’re still growing and developing into the person you’re going to be, and what happens to you now can affect you in the future.

For example, if you don’t get enough nourishing food, you might grow up to be less big and strong.

And if bad things happen to you, they might be harder to deal with than if the same things happened to adults.

So the UNCRC is also about giving you these special protections.

Other groups of people have special protections, too― like people with disabilities.

And if you’re in one of these groups, you also have those protections, including the ones in the UNCRC.


Sometimes the Commissioner hears about supermarkets or other shops stopping or restricting the entry of children and young people – particularly school pupils – at certain times of day.

Shops should not assume that children and young people will cause trouble, but they are not acting illegally imposing restrictions on them. Although the Equality Act 2010 protects individuals in the UK against discrimination by traders and service providers – this includes shops and supermarket chains – the part of the Equality Act that’s about age discrimination doesn’t apply if you are under 18.

Different conditions and restrictions can apply to children or different ages. This means that businesses can refuse to serve or admit children. An example of this is hotels that don’t allow children or shops that limit the number of children entering a shop or ban them altogether.

Your rights

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) says that children should not be discriminated against on any grounds. Unfortunately, the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t act on this.

The UK Children’s Commissioners have all spoken out about young people being discriminated against because of their age.  And the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Office has published a report about young people as consumers which has a section about shops treating young people and adults differently.

What you can do

You can be a Human Rights Defender by writing to or meeting with the store manager to discuss their policy. If that isn’t helpful and it’s a supermarket or other chain store, writing to the Chief Executive or Chairman of the Board of the company would be a good next step.


If you believe you may have been discriminated against the  Equality Advisory Support Service provides advice and assistance on equality and human rights legislation and how it may relate to you.


If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact us:

  • using the form at the bottom of our website
  • emailing us at
  • texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
  • calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.

We can also give advice and information about children’s rights issues to adults—please contact us on or through using our contact form.


Our office has been told many times about issues with school toilets— that they’re dirty, have no soap, hot water or handtowels, have no doors on cubicles and aren’t accessible outside of break times.

In 2013, we launched a campaign to improve school toilets and conducted research with children and young people.  As part of this, we called on the Scottish Government to publish new standards for toilets in schools in Scotland.  The Government consulted on the 1967 school premises regulations, but has not yet updated them.

Your rights

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that children and young people have the right to health and the right to privacy.

Because of this, school toilets should be safe, accessible and fit for purpose.

What you can do

You should discuss the problems about the toilets with your head teacher. If this doesn’t improve things, you could ask your parent council to get involved.

If this doesn’t help, you can make a formal complaint to your local education authority—you can find information about how to do this on your council’s website by searching under the word ‘complaints’.

If you are not happy with the local education authority’s response to your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to look at how your complaint was handled.


If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact us:

  • using the form at the bottom of our website
  • emailing us at
  • texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
  • calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.

We can also give advice and information about children’s rights issues to adults—please contact us on or through using our contact form.

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