The World's first Smart Village for Rural Youth

Melissa Reilly

Hi there, my name is Melissa Reilly and I am a Digital Champion with the Rural Youth Project Smart Village. I have worked on this particular project since autumn 2020, and have previously been involved with the Rural Youth Project through attending the fantastic ‘Ideas Festivals’, taking part in the Young Rural Changemakers Programme and facilitating a virtual Ideas Café session. 

Earlier this month, I started working with the Scottish Government as B2 Digital Engagement Officer within the Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate. You could say that I am interested in all things digital! (@ScotProcurement)

The Rural Youth Project Smart Village project has been a truly unique project to work on, the first online resource fully dedicated to improving the lives of young people living rurally. I wish it had been around when I was growing up! I live in a semi-rural location, the town of Lanark, which is located around 40 minutes south of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In previous professional roles I have been involved with organisations such as Scottish Rural Action, Development Trusts Association Scotland and Scottish Rural Network. Being a ‘young’ person living rurally, I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement in the Rural Youth Project since 2018, which has helped me develop both personally and professionally.

So, what is a Smart Village? It’s basically a website which creates a virtual space for a community of likeminded individuals (in this case young people living rurally) to come together and share ideas/content/information and whatever else looks to serve the development of that community. Imagine it was a real village, each building in the village is a section on the website where the information lives!

Working on the project has been a breath of fresh air to make new connections and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic – virtually meeting and working as a team with other young people from across Scotland, all the way from Orkney to the Borders. We (the Digital Champions) have also had fantastic support from the staff at GrowBiz and the Rural Youth Project.

When the Smart Village launched on 13th May 2021, I was blown away seeing the finished product. Although the Digital Champions had been working on the project for many months, many of us had not seen the finished site until the launch evening. It was so encouraging to see the participants of the virtual launch sharing their positive comments about the Smart Village and really made me feel very proud of the full team.

The Smart Village is full of fantastic resources which are specifically aimed at young people living rurally – raising the bar for the opportunities available to them. My favourite features of the Smart Village include the Opportunities map, Members functionality (so you can save content relevant to you) and the young people case studies which are so interesting and inspirational

If you are a young person, visit and sign up. If you have a young person in your family – tell them about it! If you are a business or organisation that can provide opportunities (jobs, volunteering, training etc) to young people living rurally – sign up and add your listings free of charge!

“For young people, by young people”