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Young Advisory Panel: how we're working to include more young people in Doors Open Days

What do a nuclear bunker, masonic temple, candle stick making and vegan sausage all have in common? You can find them all in our Young Advisory Panel guides!

In 2019, our Young Advisory Panel (YAP) created guides for selected Doors Open Days across Scotland. Six young people from across Scotland – Jordan, Laura, Madeline, Rachel, Rory and Sophie – met with experts in heritage, arts and marketing fields and combed through local Doors Open Days programmes to create their own Doors Open Days guides. Each member was responsible for creating a guide for one of the towns participating in Doors Open Days. The completed YAP guides offer perspectives on Inverness, Aberdeen, Pitlochry, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. Each guide is complete with a suggested daily itinerary, programme highlights and peppered with personal insights from a Young Advisory Panel member.

The Young Advisory Panel print guides.

 Rory’s guide to Aberdeen reflects on some hidden gems that spice up Aberdeen’s streets of gray granite (though Rory also admits a fondness for this consistency of stone!). Sophie’s guide to Glasgow focuses on the artists, makers and creators in the Doors Open Days programme, from coffee roasters to candle stick makers. Rachel’s guide to Doors Open Days Stirling even included some lunch suggestions – like the Ugly Mug, which serves vegan scware. Madeline’s guide to Inverness kicks off a busy day with a visit to the Inverness Bunker, a fully functional nuclear and chemical raid bunker. Laura has chosen an eclectic mix of new and old buildings for Edinburgh, and Jordan gives her highlights of the quaint, Victorian town of Pitlochry.

You can check out the YAP video guide for Pitlochry below and see all the video and print guides here!

We created the Young Advisory Panel because we wanted to reach out to young people and encourage them to participate in Doors Open Days. We understand that sometimes ‘heritage’ can be a stuffy word that is associated with ideas of long-past eras and dusty artefacts. Indeed, YAP member Rory has shared that young people may be put off attending Doors Open Days because “the label heritage may have some unfortunate connections; sometimes history can seem inaccessible or irrelevant. Doors Open Days is as much about the present and the future as it is the past. People remain excited and interested by the buildings which they spend their time in, and that was really nice to see; the enthusiasm of volunteers for the sort of small details that I also love”. YAP member Rachel agreed with Rory’s feelings about the label “heritage”, but also added that her time on the YAP “helped [her] realise that discovering more about heritage is relevant for all ages and can take place in many forms; there is more to it than just learning about the past – it’s also about looking at the ways in which culture is built in the present”.

YAP member Laura's friends enjoying Edinburgh Doors Open Days at Edinburgh Printmakers.

We at Doors Open Days are working to change this perception of “heritage” and believe that there is something in Doors Open Days for everyone. But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what some YAP members have said about what attracted them to Doors Open Days and why they recommend it to their peers:

Rachel, the YAP member for Stirling, said: “I think that it is important for young people to learn more about the country they live in, and DOD provides an excellent platform for this. Doors Open Days has so many interactive and interesting events, which are an engaging way for young people to learn new things, visit new places and meet new people.”

Rory, the YAP member for Aberdeen, said: “I think it’s surprisingly hard as a young person to feel a sense of connection to where you live, outwith the specific places where you spend a lot of time. For me, Doors Open Days lets me feel a part of things, being able to see into both the history and the present of prominent buildings that I might have walked past hundreds of times and always wondered about. You can slip into other people’s lives, seeing the everyday spaces of those who live in the same city as you. I find that exciting and almost endlessly interesting. It’s also a chance to learn about social history in an engaging and interactive way. Often that history can seem inaccessible or irrelevant when written down, and being able to see it in practice brings it to life and makes it seem fresh.”

Sophie, YAP member for Glasgow, exploring the Botanic Gardens as part of Glasgow's Doors Open Days.

Sophie, the YAP member for Glasgow, said: Doors Open Days is a great way to explore the city you live in (or one that you don’t) and see a new and different side to it. It gives you the chance to interact with buildings and organisations that you may walk past every day, but never take the time to stop and appreciate. As such, Doors Open Days really encourages you to interact with your surroundings, and highlights that the focus of our attention really does shape the way we experience life. Plus – it’s free!”

Laura, the YAP member for Edinburgh, said: “Attending Doors Open Days is a great way to engage with your local community. Although I made the YAP guide for Edinburgh, I now live in the southside of Glasgow, where I had the chance to see the views from the rooftop garden of Camphill Gate tenements, climb the bell tower of Pollokshaws Burgh Hall and share tea and Baklava at Norwoodville Mosque. You never know what’s going on, even just around the corner, and I had some really interesting chats. I’ve been back to Pollokshaws Burgh Hall for an organ-accompanied film screening, so already feeling more connected to my neighbourhood!”

As the YAP members have said, “heritage” is about spaces, places and stories. It is about how people can connect to their homes and those around them - Scots new, young and old.

You can head here to see all the YAP guides and accompanying videos. Or pop over to our Instagram to see what the YAP members got up to when they took over our Instagram back in September.

A huge thanks to Kat at Design by Zag for her work creating and designing the YAP print guides, and to artist Jassy Earl for working with our YAP members to create wee videos! And a massive thanks from all of us at Doors Open Days HQ to the Young Advisory Panel for all their efforts creating such personalised and interesting takes on Doors Open Days.

The YAP is supported by the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund.