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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Statistics 2020, National Parks, UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 (Statement of Policy), Business Motion, Decision Time, Medical Charities’ Research (Economic Value)


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection and our time for reflection leader is John Loughton BEM, chief executive of Dare2Lead and founder of Scran Academy.

John Loughton (Dare2Lead and Scran Academy)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you very much for having me here. It is an honour to address you. The last time I stood in the chamber to speak to the room was in 2008. I was the chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and was speaking to a room of members of the SYP, so I can give feedback on who the tougher audience was.

Today, I want to share with you one story and, perhaps unusually, to make one confession. The story is of a 12-year-old boy who changed my life. He wrote to himself, thinking that no one would ever see it:

“I hate my life. I’m sick of all the drugs, awful hooses, getting bullied and all the crime and that. We dinnae see Dad now, and Mum is always depressed on the couch. When I go to sleep, I hope I dinnae have tae wake up. Naebody seems tae care aboot people like me. My life will never, ever change.”

Those are powerful and sad words of hopelessness. They remain etched deep in my heart and they typify truth for too many of the young people whom I work with. We must use our platforms of power not simply to raise ourselves, but to build ladders of hope so that others can rise—ladders like the charity Scran Academy, which I founded five years ago and pivoted during lockdown to help thousands of the people who are most in need. We witnessed the transformational power of local people with authentic lived experience becoming experienced and stepping up to be their own solutions.

I promised you a confession: the boy in the diary was me. I stand here as a proud working-class queer citizen who faced the bullies, trauma and poverty. I chose not to concede and not to give up, but to dare to lead, especially in the darkest of times. Ever since my first wee campaign aged 11 in Pilton, I try to act with bravery and passion and to be an inspiring ginger example to others. That is something that we can all choose to do—although, perhaps not the ginger part.

We can and must redefine the paradigms of what is possible for people. We can let yesterday’s scars become today’s strengths. I want people to know that our vulnerabilities can become the content of our voices. That is hope. We must have space for vulnerability and openness in our leadership models and examples, today.

My purpose is really clear to me: it is to live as the adult whom the young boy in that diary needed. I invite you all to do the same. We are all role models to a young person somewhere. Let us never allow this legislature to settle on the notion that your life’s starting point is your life sentence. Let us never settle on the idea that some people from some places are just destined to fail, or that radically compassionate change is somehow too big or too hard.

Please stay impatient. Let us all build ladders of hope. Let us all be the adults that a generation of kids so desperately need.