World first youth dedicated Smart Village has launched in Scotland

18 May 2021

A partnership between the Rural Youth Project and Smart Village Scotland has witnessed the successful launch of a pioneering, youth-centric Smart Village which will champion young people to collaboratively build vibrant, creative, and sustainable rural economies in the places they call home.

Rebecca Dawes, Director of the Rural Youth Project said: “Smart Villages are a concept driven by the European Network for Rural Development – essentially digital rural ‘villages’ that combine physical and digital communities to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities. As such, the Rural Youth Project Smart Village now functions as a space where young people across Scotland can access helpful resources, connect with others, uncover employment and volunteering vacancies, as well as having their voices heard.”

The platform, which is exclusively dedicated to tackling issues facing rural young people, is funded by LEADER (‘Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale’.  Attending the launch was Jackie Brierton, who spoke on behalf of the programme which is committed to funding rural development efforts.

Ms Brierton emphasised the programme’s delight at supporting such an initiative, especially since young people have been so disproportionately affected throughout the pandemic:

“The Rural Youth Project Smart Village fulfils all of the requirements we look for when considering funding. It has certainly been community-led; it has been a brilliant example of cooperation; and it is absolutely about innovation. It is truly pioneering.”

The Rural Youth Project Smart Village content has been developed by young people themselves, based on their needs and conversations with other young people in their wider networks and communities. Representing the group of 15 ‘Digital Champions’ who designed and populated the website, Amber Maslen first highlighted the unique and often challenging position youngsters with rural backgrounds are in:

“It has been super inspiring to be part of a group of people who all want the same thing, and to be working to combat the gaps in information that have, in the past, made it difficult to be a young person in rural Scotland looking to start a business or a career.

“We decided on the areas that would be most valuable to our peers, professionally and personally, before cultivating resources that would inspire, educate, and make life seems slightly less overwhelming.”

Rebecca Dawes added: “The launch of the Rural Youth Project Smart Village is a shining example of what can be achieved when individuals and groups come together for greater good and has come at a time when collaboration and support are more important to rural life than ever before.

“Whether you are a young person keen to set up your own profile, an organisation looking to share opportunities on the site, or a business with an exciting story to tell, the extensive and unique display of features provide means for wide-ranging rural success.”

The Smart Village was developed by Hi-Create and in partnership with Smart Village Scotland.

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JCM Media Contact: Rose Moggach – or 07493 876646