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Scottish referendum: Generation 2014 vote

Whatever the end result, 16- and 17-year-olds will make history simply by taking part in next week's Scottish independence vote. The referendum is the first time that under-18s anywhere in the UK have had the franchise on a major matter of state. Here we hear about the lives of those whose vote will influence the future of Scotland.

David White, 16, from Shawhead in Dumfries, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

Shawhead is a small village with a T-junction and a few houses dotted about. It's mainly farming but there is a recycling plant down the road. We were never bored growing up here. We just built things. We made a boat out of Duck Tape that actually works. We were building sluice-boxes the other day to go gold-panning in the hills.

We spent holidays in the forest building dens and I have a garden up in the woods. I make a lot of silver jewellery as a small business in my shed and sell it to people I know or as birthday presents.

England is local here. Quite often I'll go to Carlisle for shopping. If there was any border control that could be quite a pain. I have relatives down there too.

I'm still undecided but I'm leaning towards "No" as more of an emotional thing.

I've read the White Paper and I've been in lots of debates. I've come down to it that you could pretty much be independent and be economically fine but it's more about if you feel like you want to be Scottish on its own or part of Britain.

Lots of 16-year-olds are not that bothered about it but there are a lot that are delighted to have the vote.

Brandon Ross, 16, from Cumbernauld, "Yes" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I have looked after my mum since I was 12, which means I am a young carer. It's a really good opportunity and gives you a lot of confidence. You can feel so proud, to say you look after somebody and you are one of the most important things in their life.

I write song lyrics when I get angry. Since my dad left, I find writing them really helps. You get into the words and you know what the singer was meaning when they wrote it. I have left school now and am going to college to do mechanics. I was getting grief from the teachers for being off all the time. They didn't understand that I had to look after my mum. They automatically think that I can't be bothered coming to school and you start to feel really upset and it makes you feel really low.

I would just like Scotland to be a wealthy country, so there are plenty of jobs. There are a lot of people out of work, and not able to afford their houses and that, just now. Other countries have gone independent and done okay, so I don't see why Scotland shouldn't do the same.

Amy-Jo Randalls ,17, from Kirriemuir, "No" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I am into gliding which is something I have been doing since I was 15, it's brilliant fun, just amazing. There is a bit of string stuck to the outside that basically tells you if you are balanced. If it's back, you are balanced.

It's very peaceful when you are up there. There is this really overwhelming feeling of freedom, like you can go anywhere you want. It puts things in perspective when you are up there looking at the ground, everything seems so small, arguments or disagreements you have had with people seem tiny and petty. It really helps to calm me down . If I have had a bad week at school it reminds me how tiny everything is. You stop worrying about whatever it is that's bothering you, because it's really not that important.

I would like to get in to the Navy as a fast-jet pilot. I would like to fly F35s, hopefully. If the Navy phoned tomorrow and said, "We want you now," I would leave school in a heartbeat. I don't particularly enjoy school. I just want to fly as much as possible.

I am completely mind-made-up on the independence vote. I am going to be voting "No". I think it would be a shame to lose our shared British culture and a unique country and set of countries.

We [Scotland] are a small country that is unthreatening but you do need an armed forces. We don't have the money to support the aircraft we need. The airforce would be a bunch of gliders.

Carrah Hamilton, 16, from Hamilton, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I think it's crazy giving 16-year-olds the vote. Particularly as it's for the first time, about such a big decision. People don't know a lot, including me. A couple of friends at football talk about it but at school no-one speaks about it.

I want free further education, a strong NHS and to keep the currency. I wish they would tighten immigration laws similar to those in Australia. I wish the NHS would stay and free university education, free for all.

I've got family in England and mum works in England three days a week and I worry it would make her life harder to travel back and forth. I have a football training session every Tuesday and Thursday night and play with Hamilton Academicals' girls' football club.

I also dance on other nights so Wednesday night is the only night I don't do anything. I also do a job selling merchandise to earn some money. I hope to go to university to do Law and Science.

Dancing will fit into my future plans but I'm not sure about football.

Gregor Larmour, 16 from Kilmarnock, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I am in my fifth year at school, studying for my Highers, which I am not too buzzing about.

Music is a big part of my life. I would absolutely love to go into the music industry. The feeling you get at the end of a show is phenomenal. Before the show there are always nerves but you work hard and have proper fun.

My absolute dream is to get a record deal. I know it sounds a bit sad but that would make my life complete. I have had three major gigs. One was a Girl Guides fundraising concert, for their 100th birthday, with 80 to 90 folks there. At the moment I do a lot of covers but I try to write my own songs.

I don't want to stuck in Killie for ever. We got voted the worst place to live in Britain by some guy in London who has never been to Kilmarnock. It was to do with unemployment statistics and whatever. People in East Ayrshire are very genuine. Sometimes that's even a bad thing because they are so honest. They have no discretion if they are making comments on something.

I wish that the independence referendum was not being led by politicians. Then it would be far easier to understand the issues. What both sides say always sounds good, but how do you know it's the truth?

I hope something will come out to help me make up my mind. At the moment it will be about education because I don't know if I will go on to university. I want to be told definitely what's happening about education. That would probably push me towards one side or the other.

Sabina Jedrzejczyk, 16, from Dalkeith, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

Dad came here to work when I was 10. I remember it was scary but exciting. I knew only four words of English then, yes, no, don't know, and toilet. My identity is all three of Polish, Scottish and British. I feel very welcomed here but had a bad encounter with racism soon after we arrived. I'd like to stop racism.

I was lucky enough to be a runner in this summer's Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay. I felt quite nervous when I was about to carry the Baton. I thought, "It's coming, don't drop it. Keep calm. Smile and look at people I love." I tried to walk slowly. Mum was very proud of me.

After school in Poland there is too much homework and you are still working at 22:00 or 23:00 for the next day and only Saturday and Sunday are free. I'm glad to be in school in Scotland. I have more free time to train in athletics. My dream is to win gold at the Olympics in 800m. I didn't know who I would run for - Scotland and Poland are my home. I also see myself becoming a software engineer. I will study at university and then dream to work with Google.

I am still undecided on which way I am going to vote in the referendum. I am scared of what the future might be and who will be running the country. Because I am an immigrant I would like to know what it means for immigrants.

Erin Fyfe McWilliam, 16, from Aberdeen - voting "No"

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I spend my spare time catching up with all the American TV shows I watch, along with spending another chunk of my time online on Youtube, Twitter and Tumblr.

I like to go to the gym regularly and am also very sporty. I also have a job at weekends and somehow I still manage to meet my friends and get my homework done; probably because I'm a girl, and everyone knows we're good at multi-tasking.

In September I will be voting "No".

I hope this decision will help me get into university without having to pay tuitions so I don't have to spend the future paying off my debt.

I also think that the Better Together campaign is a lot stronger than the "Yes" campaign. They have facts and figures to back up what they expect to happen in the future. The "Yes" campaign, on the other hand, do not.

Their arguments boil down to: "You want this? Vote Yes and we will get you it." "You want that? Vote Yes and we can get you that too." I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound very stable to me.

I hope after the vote is announced we won't hold too many grudges. This referendum has caused huge divisions in Scotland (another reason why this whole thing was a bad idea), but we should all remember we were a part of this together.

Edan Hansen, 16, from Aberdeen, "Yes" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

This picture was taken at Glasgow Comi-Con after a long, long wait to get there. I saw a Batman figure with its own battering ram and sword, epic-ness levels were at an all time high. Batman is my favourite DC Comics hero, I think. From Marvel, my favourite is either Thor, or Hulk, or Captain America.

I am autistic, which means I see the world differently from most other people. People who don't have autism are called "neuro-typical". I find that most neuro-typical people don't really understand me that well.

Autism can mean that you have difficulty understanding emotion, or interpreting what people really mean when they say things. It can also actually increase creativity though. It helps you learn with certain things. It can even improve your memory.

The word "autistic" is a bit like the word "gay", in that people sometimes wrongly use it as an insult, like, "Oh that's really gay" or, "He's being a bit autistic."

Actually, far from being an insult, it can mean something really good. I find reading and writing hard, but I find it really easy to draw, paint and even do sculptures.

I'm planning to vote "Yes" in the independence referendum because I want to get away from the current Westminster government. Taking the gamble on independence is worth it if the prize is a better country.

Nathan Epemolu, 16, from Hamilton, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

My mother is from England and my dad is from Nigeria. We lived in London for many years and I think that brings something different to the table when we are discussing how to vote on independence.

Faith is important to me. It can be taken anywhere. Even the idea of believing in something bigger than yourself is important.

Politics is not just about how it will help you but how it will help everyone in the long run. Believing in something is better, they [politicians] need the open-mindedness to know what the people want. I do feel sometimes that faith is under-represented when it comes to people making decisions.

I've no clue what I'm going to choose yet. I would hate to think there are people who will have flipped a coin on what to do. I want to come out with who is best equipped to run the country.

As much as I hate to say it, you actually appreciate the politicians even more and see how stressful it is to get a country running.

Margot Smith, 16, from the Isle of Skye, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

Where I live, you see tourists on the side of the roads all the time, taking pictures of the most insignificant things. They are there for, like, 20 minutes, taking photos of sheep or a phone box. I wouldn't stop and take pictures. I have basically seen everything on Skye. I don't feel like this is home. I love London so much, and Edinburgh. I like being at the centre of all the action and events.

My mum is from Paris and my dad is from Inverness. We came here because my dad got a job at the Three Chimneys restaurant and it was the best opportunity for the whole family.

I want to go to the city - either Glasgow or London - to study drama hopefully next year. I do enjoy the fresh air here. But I want to go shopping. I was very strongly a "No" voter. Then the "Yes" side completely swayed me, but now I would say I'm undecided.

I'm happy that us teenagers are trusted to vote.

Annie Lennox, 16, from Huntly, "Yes" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I was on a flight once, to Morocco, and the flight stewardess said, "Is your name Annie Lennox?" The guy next to me just said: "I can beat that, I'm Michael Jackson."

My sister and I did a talent show at the local hall when I was four and she was about six. She went up with dollies in hand and sang a lullaby. So we've always been musical.

Now I play and sing in a band. We go on tour over the summer for six weeks to lots of music venues. I've been doing it for years.

If I ever do go professional as a musician my middle name is Rose so I'd probably be Annie Rose.

I am definitely a "Yes" voter. I'm an avid "Yes" supporter. Scotland should stand up and make its own mark. I want the Scottish culture to be taken more seriously, especially in music.

Everyone's influenced by what their parents say and I've totally immersed myself in Scottish traditions.

When you are so involved in culture and the heritage of your country you obviously want to drive that forward.

I think independence will be the best way to do that.

Natalie Curran, 16, from Glasgow, "No" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

When I was eight years old I started struggling to see the board at school. I would get really bad headaches and was feeling really sick. Over the course of twelve months, we kept visiting doctors and they kept saying my sight was fine. One doctor said I was lying to get attention.

It turned out I had a brain tumour pushing up on my optic nerves to the point it almost snapped one of them, hence the splitting headaches. They did an emergency operation. When they removed it there was only a tiny bit of the optic nerve left.

I can't see anything out my left eye and very little out my right. They also damaged the pituitary gland which affects my body's internal temperature control.

I feel politicians are too far removed from normal life. Even if the UK goes out of Europe I still think it's better together. The thing is, we all live in our own little bubbles but we are all in the same bath-tub so we should all stay together. You could say Scotland is the water, the English are the bubble bath, and the Welsh are the soap and shampoo.

I have wavered a little but whenever I remind myself of the arguments, I go back to "No". People forget it was a Scottish king who united the kingdoms in the first place. James the Sixth of Scotland became James the First of England.

Rory Doherty, 16, from Edinburgh, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I love watching films, I love writing screenplays too, as there are endless possibilities. There are so many movies, and so many different types of movies.

I've written scripts for youth theatre in Edinburgh. One script I wrote was about the "Yes/No" debate and my thoughts on it.

I'm not convinced by either side on independence yet. I'm not sure about the ways they're trying to convince us.

There'll be pressures for more change but we need to know what that would be. I would like some factual coherence of what would happen either way.

I'm at the stage of deciding what courses I want to study at university. I want to do a lot of film-making and maybe a postgraduate in film so I can do more practical film-making.

Kieran Sutherland, 16, from Wick in the Highlands, "Yes" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I live in the far north of Scotland with my mum, my dad, and my three brothers. Like millions of others around the world, I have cerebral palsy, a condition that affects different people in different ways. For me, it means I am in a wheelchair, I have poor eyesight and co-ordination, and find moving around very difficult.

David Weir CBE (also pictured) has been a role model and a hero of mine since I was seven. The first race I saw him in was the London Marathon. I was amazed to see what people could do in their wheelchairs. Before that, because where I live is so isolated, I had always believed that I was the only person in the world in a wheelchair.

As well as a sense of awe for what the athletes could do, I also had a feeling of relief that I was not alone. My health took a turn for the worse three years ago, and I was in hospital for 10 weeks in a lot of pain. There were moments when I felt that I could not continue. In these moments, it was David Weir that helped me find strength.

I very clearly remember watching him win at the London Marathon and thinking: "He has taken everything negative in his life and turned it into a positive, I need to do the same."

Then one day, I got a chance to meet him as part of this BBC project I am involved with. It was a big surprise and I was so shocked when he came into the room. It left me speechless.

Some people say you should never meet your heros because you will only be disappointed.

I disagree. David Weir is one of the nicest people I have ever met and it's a memory I will always treasure.

I've spent this year trying to make my mind up which way I'll vote on independence. I was undecided until very recently but now I've made up my mind to vote "Yes".

The "No" side have not made clear what additional powers they will give the Scottish government if no goes through.

I think we have a better health service and education system at present, which could get better with more money and more attention from a government in Edinburgh.

Matthew Hall, 16, from Taynuilt in Argyllshire (originally from Durham), a "No" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I was worried the vote would stir up anti-English feeling, but that hasn't happened. I see myself as English and British.

I know English people in Scotland who are voting "No" and English people who are voting "Yes".

We came up here with my dad's work. It's a lot more rural and isolated out here than where we used to live. Everyone knows you, and you don't lock your doors.

For me personally the independence vote seems like some sort of a grudge match between Scotland and England.

Hardly anyone mentions Northern Ireland or Wales.

We defeated fascism together as the United Kingdom, and we built an empire on tea. We have got a significant contribution to G8 and the UN Security Council together, we have achieved so much.

There is the Westminster argument, that we're being dictated to but we have got a Parliament with more powers than either Northern Ireland or Wales have.

You should never confuse your patriotism for your nationalism, there is being proud and there is being supremacist about something.

Any party with National in the title has some sort of racist agenda, it doesn't matter if it's left or right.

Ida McVarish, 16, from Morar, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

My dad is American and my mum is Finnish. I think of myself as a kind of Finnish-American hybrid but not Scottish because I don't like it here. I have asked my dad for American citizenship because I want to go there when I leave school.

When my mum was pregnant with me there was a flood here so we had to borrow someone's Land Rover to get out. It's so remote.

When I was younger, growing up here was amazing. You played hide and seek all the time and your imagination could run wild. When I grew up though it got really, really boring, really quickly. I go up the hill to get out of the house, usually in the spring or autumn time. You're cooped up with your mum and brother so sometimes we get angry and snap at each other. Last year almost everyday I went out swimming in the loch.

I'm glad I get to vote on independence, but it's such a massive decision to make. At 16 you can have a family, get married, drive and can now vote on independence. I would like a brief summary, written in simple language and not with loads and loads of other explanation. It needs to be easy to understand.

I'm kind of undecided as there are good points on both sides. The whole thing about money and joining the EU just sounds complicated. My mum is very "Yes", she says it's working over there in Finland.

Andrew Hanton, 16, from Forres, a "Yes" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I like reading and I like TV shows and generally doing lazy teenager stuff - and studying of course. When I leave school I want to go into medical sciences, possibly medicine.

I personally will be putting "Yes" in September. It's a great disadvantage having a government hundreds of miles away. Forres, where I live, feels very disconnected from London.

Whichever way the vote goes eventually we must remember we're all citizens of Scotland. I heard a politician say that. We are not enemies when the debate is over.

People are talking about a spaceport in Moray and that would be really, really good for tourism and also just be really cool like Star Wars. I would love to go into space.

Jenna Gillespie, 16, from Aberdeen, "No" voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

Christianity is an important part of the Scotland system. I think it should be a bigger part of society. It's a good thing.

I am going into S5 so just doing my Highers now. I'm not sure what I will do yet I just have to get my exams and see how I do, just work hard at school. I would like to do an artistic career like animation.

I will be voting "No" to independence. I wouldn't see the country as in a very stable situation at the moment. When you think about independence you'd think you would do it at a time and we're more stable. I would like more honesty and everything feels to me like a propaganda speech. I want the proper facts, the cold hard facts, rather than loads of numbers. Obviously I want the country to do well. I want things to be fixed quickly so we can move on together.

Nicole Fraser, 16, from Aberdeen, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

In my free time I play my PS3 computer game. Mum says, "It's all you do." You literally can think, with these real-time games, that you're watching a movie you're part of.

Generally from when I wake up to when I go to bed I play during the holidays. I'm awake from 12:00 to 03:00.

If [independence] goes completely wrong will we be able to come back? I think England would take us back but you don't know. Politicians should stop speaking in riddles and put things in black and white.

I'm still on the fence with the referendum. I still have no clue what I'm going to vote. It is such a big thing. One way or another it's going to affect everything.

Halima Kolo, 16, from Dundee, undecided voter

Image copyright Kieran Dodds

I'm the fourth of five children, and the only girl. It's the worst thing ever. Having three older brothers is terrible, I just want them to move out already.

My dad came to Scotland to do his phD and my mum and him lived here ever since. He got a job and after that everything changed. I grew up here from the age of seven, and went to Nigeria for only the first time after that this December. It was just amazing seeing my whole extended family, and seeing how different their lives are to mine. I got these clothes made in Nigeria. I [wore them] once to school for a non-uniform day and people loved it.

I'm starting to realise that I am Nigerian. I'm starting to be proud of that I'm going to embrace it. People respect you more if you're proud of who you are. I always wear a headscarf but I am not a full hijabi yet. For my religion it's compulsory on reaching puberty.

At first I was a definite "Yes" voter on independence but then I went to a meeting about it and a few of my friends said no. So I'm undecided, leaning towards "Yes".

I'm really happy with the lowered voting age. We are responsible at 16, and able to make big decisions.

Photographs by Kieran Dodds/Panos Pictures

Being Sixteen in 2014 can be seen on BBC3 at 20:00 on 10 September 2014 and find out more about the participants of Generation 2014 here. And watch The Big, Big Debate, as thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds get together for a special first-time voters debate in Glasgow, a week before the vote.

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