Twelve people from Polmont Young Offenders Institution joined the HMDT Youth Champion programme this year. At their request for more information and support, HMDT worked together with them to tailor the four challenges to become more accessible to the young offenders. Despite having limited resources and no access to social media, the Polmont Youth Champions were determined to raise awareness amongst their peers, educate them about the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and engage them with the 2016 theme Don’t stand by.
 
Each Polmont Youth Champion researched a Holocaust survivor and individually produced an informative visual display. They shared these stories with their peers and encouraged fellow young offenders to learn more about British heroes of the Holocaust by circulating resources and setting up an educational area for them. They interviewed Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher which featured in a HMD radio programme broadcast on the internal radio station to all young offenders.
 
Furthermore, the Polmont Youth Champions worked collaboratively with education staff to stage a memorable event with presentations, music and poetry for an audience of dignitaries, friends, family and young offenders.
 
For this event, they developed a HMD exhibition which included their visual displays detailing the lives of many Holocaust survivors. Attendees of the exhibition had a chance to engage with more life stories via an interactive computer display which showed first-hand testimony from Holocaust survivors. Polmont Youth Champions confidently guided guests around their HMD exhibition and provided a detailed commentary about their chosen individual.
 
Inspired by a 2015 HMD activity where knitting groups across the UK crocheted 390 flowers and attached them to luggage tags bearing the name of a Holocaust survivor, the Polmont Youth Champions worked hard to hand craft over 100 felt flowers fastened to luggage tags. They encouraged attendees to take a flower and remember their chosen person on 27 January every year.
 
After a tour of the exhibition, guests were ushered to a performing arts space where the Polmont Youth Champions delivered a thought-provoking presentation about their reflections on HMD. Many readings and poetry written by them was shared with the audience followed by a performance of Robert Burns’ song ‘A Man’s a Man’.
 
Polmont Youth Champions were joined by Holocaust survivor, Inge Auerbacher, Former United Nations Ambassador, Mukesh Kapila and spokeswoman for Scottish Action for Refugees, Claire MacAuley who each spoke about the relevance of HMD to our everyday lives.
 
The event at HMYOI Polmont was a UK first presented in the only dedicated performance space in any detention facility in the world. The Polmont Youth Champions went above and beyond to educate their peers and raise awareness about HMD. To find out more about the Youth Champion programme, email youth@hmd.org.uk or visit http://hmd.org.uk/page/youth-champions
 
  • If this example has inspired you to organise an activity for HMD 2017, read our theme vision here.