Galloway group’s big day at Parliament

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A Dumfries and Galloway group that works to make improvements to services for the region’s looked after young people and care leavers joined Scotland’s ‘local heroes’ in a Big Day Out procession for the opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament.

The Listen2Us Project was invited to take part in the Riding procession, a historic parade that first took place in the 17th century, with more than 2,000 people, including musicians and entertainers.

After the procession, members of the Listen2Us group had lunch in the grounds of Holyrood Palace, where they met various politicians, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Colin Smyth MSP, and Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson. They also met representatives of other community groups and watched a range of entertainment as part of the Big Day Out.

A spokesperson for Listen2Us said: “It was a real honour to be recognised by the Scottish Parliament for the work our project does. We were really excited to join so many community groups from across the whole of Scotland, all working to make a positive difference.”

Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “The Listen2Us Project makes an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of looked after children and care leavers in our region , helping deliver one of our council’s key priorities to provide the best start in life for all our children. The members of the group fully deserved their invitation to this historic event as a recognition of all their hard work and commitment and they did our Council and Dumfries and Galloway proud.”

Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh MSP, said: “People might see the Scottish Parliament as boring or stuffy. It’s neither. And The Big Day Out was fun for all involved. It was as far from the Parliament’s grey suit image as you could get, with Chinese dragons, Bollywood-style dancers, banners, music and some truly amazing people who have gone above and beyond to make a positive difference in Scotland.”

The Listen2Us Project is about seeking the views and experiences of looked after young people and care leavers across Dumfries & Galloway and using these experiences to provide young people with the opportunity to influence, shape, design and improve the range of services they receive.

The Riding was themed by Edwin Morgan’s poem, Open the Doors! Riding participants carried banners featuring lines and phrases from the work, which was specially commissioned by the Scottish Parliament for its 2004 opening.

The Riding is based on the traditional procession marking the opening of Parliament, and occurred at each Parliament until the Treaty of Union in 1707.