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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 24/04/2014

I am particularly fond of Dundee and really love being invited to speak at events there. I suppose I am particularly predisposed to the city as the Go Dundee group got together as the result of the conference I organised in 2004 with Malcolm Gladwell as the keynote speaker, called Scotland’s Tipping Point.  Since then Go Dundee  have run a number of great events and projects.
 
The latest event they asked me to speak at was entitled ‘Dundee – a Confident City’. As it was a Dundee Partnership Forum event there were folk there from organisations right across the city.
 
There were some great speakers, time for interesting discussions and, as is often the case in Dundee, lots of buzz, energy and a sense of mission.
 
However, one talk particularly interested me. It was given by Charis Robertson of the Hot Chocolate Trust.  They work with young people aged between 12 and 21 who ‘hang out in the city centre’.  I had heard about them before and know that they are terrific at engaging with young people, many of whom come from difficult backgrounds and can have challenging behaviours.
 
Anyway, as the theme of the event was  confidence, Charis devoted some of her talk to telling us how young folk in the project responded when she asked them to define confidence and describe confident people.
 
She told the audience that the young people she spoke to think ‘confident people’ -

  • know what they are about – ie they have a sense of purpose and passion for what their involved in
  • are comfortable in their own skin. They are also aware of their strengths and weaknesses and don’t need to compare themselves with other people
  • have community and support
  • have something to give and are aware of other people’s needs and what they have to offer.

As Charis pointed out this list is essentially ‘relational’ – it is primarily about friendship, love and family.
 
What struck me about this list is its wisdom – it is both mature and insightful.
 
What also struck me is how different it is from the list you often get from people working with young people: they are much more likely to stress achievement, success and reaching goals.
 
What I am intrigued to know is whether this list is a reflection of this particular group of youngsters who are particularly seeking community and family through the Hot Chocolate Trust or whether it reflects this generation of young people. Have they sussed, for example, that their generation looks like its going to struggle with careers and achievements and this is reflected in their own ambitions for life?
  

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