Community / ‘Young people feel things are unaffordable’, peer education group says

A project is ongoing to explore the idea of a space for young people that they can call their own

The OPEN youth committee members who are leading the research.

THE COST of activities in Lerwick is making public spaces less accessible for young people, according to new research.

The study, by the OPEN Peer Project, has been undertaken to gauge the need for a specific space for young people.

The project’s Shannon Boston and Jessica Carlyle spoke at a council meeting last week to give elected members an update and they said the research shows young people in Shetland want a place to call their own.

It comes after concern was raised earlier in the year over young people hanging out in the Bressay ferry terminal waiting room on the Lerwick side – with allegations of some “anti-social behaviour” – while Harrison Square has also been a hot topic.

Boston said social media comments on news posts about the Bressay ferry terminal saw young folk “villainised”.

She added: “The experiences of under 25s is that they feel unsatisfied with the spaces they can use in Lerwick.


“Young people feel that things are unaffordable, high costs make places less accessible, and they find when they do something, they are moved along.”

Earlier this year Shetland News reported on how young people felt unwelcome in some Lerwick cafes and venues.

OPEN is a local peer education programme working with people aged 16 to 25.

Peer education describes a range of initiatives where people of similar ages, backgrounds, culture and/or social status educate each other about a variety of issues.

Young people can currently access a special youth cafe every Thursday and Friday afternoon in the Olive Tree in Lerwick, and it is proving a success.

But the research highlighted that young people are keen for a place where they have control over things like opening times, food and activities.

The Shetland Youth Information Service [SYIS] centre used to be open at the Market Cross, but it closed in 2013.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“It’s not just about giving young people a space,” Boston said. “It’s about them having their own space.

“Giving the decision making back to young people creates a sense of belonging and community for them.”

Meanwhile Carlyle said at the start of the research programme some young people were not too fussed about taking part as they did not know if it would result in change.

But as the research continued more folk came on board.

“It makes the relationships with our young people better – they have trust in us, and we have trust in them,” Carlyle said. “We believe in the power of young people.”

She added that the next steps are continuing to engage with young people.

“Before we invest in a full-time space we need to know is it actually going to be utilised,” Carlyle said.


“We already have a good gauge of the times and days that they want, but it’s actually trying that out and seeing will it actually work.

“In the big picture we would hope to have a space, but it’s the process, and we want to involve young people in every part of that process.”

Lerwick councillor Neil Pearson said it was an “outstanding” presentation.

“Young people really are just looking for a space that they can be safe, that they can go to, that they have a bit of free Wifi and where it’s warm,” he said.

Meanwhile fellow town member John Fraser added: “To me what they desire is pretty simple – give me a safe, warm place where I can drop in, meet my pals and I have Wifi access. That’s not beyond the gift of man.”

Children’s services director Helen Budge said the council has been engaged with the peer education project on the situation.

“I think for us it’s working at a pace that young folk want to work at.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.