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The future of our society will only succeed if communities come together for change

On Tuesday 13 November, the ScottishPower Foundation hosted its second annual Autumn Lecture. In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 and delivered in conjunction with the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), the event focused on the country’s landscape for the next generation.

Opening the evening was Eden Clarke, a young carer from Broomhouse, Edinburgh.  At an early age, Eden lost both her parents. Despite her challenging childhood, she discussed the power of a positive mental attitude and why challenging herself helped to develop her from a shy girl into an aspirational teenager.

She said: “Growing up in today’s world is not easy for any teenager but for me, it was particularly hard as my father died when I was 10 and not long after, I lost my mum. This meant I become a young carer for my grandmother, both physically and mentally. 

In April 2018, I attended a one-week outdoor residential course run by the Outward Bound Trust UK thanks to funding from the ScottishPower Foundation.  I was then invited to attend a 19-day course in Loch Eil, also funded by the ScottishPower Foundation. I knew it would be physically demanding but I was most scared of feeling alone. Actually, being on my own wasn’t as scary as I thought and I met amazing people who helped me to have more belief in myself, I couldn’t have done it without their support. I’ve learned challenges in your life shouldn’t hold you back.”

Eden is currently studying for her Highers and has aspirations to attend Glasgow Caledonian University to study to become a paramedic.

Jackie Wylie, the Artistic Director and Chief Executive at the National Theatre for Scotland gave an impassioned account of the work the theatre is doing to protect future generations by encouraging them not only into the arts but to discover a more inclusive Scotland.

She said: “Rather than spend precious funding on building and maintaining a grand venue in one location, NTS became the first national theatre company to exist purely as a touring company, with all income invested into creating new projects, developing talent, finding new audiences and participants all over Scotland. 

“Why do we need theatre for young people?  The process of making theatre, not just watching theatre, teaches us empathy. It’s where young people practice listening to each other. At its most effective young people’s theatre is where they have a chance to be with people who are different from themselves. It’s a place where we learn to pay attention to other people, to really tune in to specifics of those around them. In a fractured world, that skill will set young people on the road to being empowered and engaged citizens of Scotland.”

The key speaker at the Lecture was Mark Stevenson, a broadcaster, author and global trend expert. In his role of ‘futurologist’, Mark discussed a future society can he anticipates the world will change.

He said: “We need to remember technology is the question, not the answer. I’m passionate about encouraging young people to stick with their education and building skills so we don’t face a technology take-over. As a good friend always tells me: ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’.

“Technology does mean we are advancing faster than ever before, and my role as a futurologist is to help people understand. Scotland is the creator of long-standing and hugely important philosophies, technologies and developments so many nations look to us for inspiration.

Our mission is to help create and inspire future literate citizens. Making the future more sustainable needs to be a more fun place to be. The right side of history always had the best parties.”

As well as talks from the main speakers, guests also heard from Ann McKechin, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, and Mike Thornton, Chairman and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation.

In January of this year, the Foundation announced a £1.2 million donation to 17 charities across the length and breadth of the UK, from Aberdeen to Sussex.  It supports charitable organisations that are invested in making a significant and lasting contribution to society and enhance the quality of life in local communities.

Follow the conversation online using the hashtag #SPFoundationLecture.

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