Who Cares? We Do!

To mark 10 years of Corporate Parenting, Samuel Curran, Policy Lead for Scottish Police Authority, shares his personal journey as a Corporate Parent and the action that The Scottish Police Authority have taken as a proud Corporate Parent. He shares his views on why Corporate Parenting is a priority for Scottish Police Authority and expresses his own and the Scottish Police Authority’s commitment to the Care Experienced community.

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Above – Samuel Curran (Scottish Police Authority), Lynsey Emery & Emma Brannigan-McQueen (Who Cares? Scotland) at the Scottish Public Sector Awards, December 2023.

Our Education and Engagement team provide support to Corporate Parents to fulfil their statutory duties to support Care Experienced people. For the past few years, the team have been working closely with and supporting the Scottish Police Authority through the delivery of training sessions and offering a range of other consultative supports. This year marks 10 years of Corporate Parenting legislation and we are inviting Corporate Parents to share what the role means to them.

Let me be honest. 

A little over three years ago, on first joining the Scottish Police Authority, the term ‘Corporate Parent’ meant nothing to me. In all honesty, I had little to no knowledge about care experience and what it meant to people. 

By sharing this experience with you – a personal journey from being humbled by ignorance on care experience to empowering the Scottish Police Authority to become a proud Corporate Parent – I hope it will serve as a reminder of the transformative power of learning and collaboration. It is, ultimately, a tale of teamwork and enlightenment. 

And so, our journey begins. In 2021, I arrived at the Authority amidst a sea of change. The organisation had just undergone a major reorganisation, signalling a new chapter in our collective endeavour to better serve the people of Scotland. Despite limited understanding of care experience, what became abundantly clear was the unwavering dedication of my colleagues and the Authority’s Board and leadership team who were united by a shared vision of a stronger, more compassionate Scottish Police Authority.  

For those of you who may lack awareness of the concept, as I did, Corporate Parenting is defined as ‘the formal and local partnerships between all services responsible for working together to meet the needs of looked after children, young people and care leavers’. My very simple translation is that we, as Corporate Parents, need to be loving and compassionate and do everything in our power to improve the lives of Care Experienced people.  

Care Experienced people should be high on our agenda, as they continue to be overrepresented in Scotland’s justice system. Early conversations with Authority colleagues, however, revealed a sobering truth: as an organisation, we were falling short in our duties as a Corporate Parent. It was a revelation that spurred all of us into action. 

Our first – simple, yet profound – step toward becoming a proud Corporate Parent was forging a partnership with Who Cares? Scotland. This collaboration has, and continues to, serve as the foundation of our efforts, providing us with invaluable insights and guidance as we embarked on our quest for transformation. 

Who Cares? Scotland helped us to develop our first Corporate Parenting plan – Look, Learn, Listen, Review – designed to guide our actions and ensure that the voices of Care Experienced individuals were heard and valued at every turn. 

One of our first priorities was to ensure that all staff and non-executive board members were equipped with the knowledge and understanding required to effectively support Care Experienced individuals. This was a game changer for us and our journey to becoming a better Corporate Parent.  

Emma Brannigan-McQueen and colleagues from Who Cares? Scotland delivered training to every single member of staff and our Board. The penny well and truly dropped: all of a sudden, we were all talking the same language, all understood the challenges that people with care experience may face, and critically understood how as a police authority we could advocate for change that would improve the outcomes for people with care experience.  

If I could give just one piece of advice of a simple action you can take to drive change it would be this: make sure that your colleagues understand what care experience means and how they can be part of a progressive system that supports improvement. 

Very early on in our journey as a Corporate Parent we were fortunate enough to meet with the Stirling Champions Group. Not only was it wonderful to meet and chat with these amazing young people, but they helped us to understand where we could best focus our efforts. One area that needed particular focus was building positive relationships between people with care experience and Scotland’s policing system. 

It was this engagement that spurred the Authority to develop a Modern Apprenticeship that specifically encouraged Care Experienced individuals to apply. For policing to be truly effective it needs diversity of thought and to reflect the communities that we serve. This was a first for policing in Scotland, and both Who Cares? Scotland and our Police Scotland colleagues helped us every step of the way. At the time of writing this I’m pleased to report that the recruitment process for this post is now in its final stages and all of us at the Scottish Police Authority are looking forward to welcoming the next member of our policing family. 

There are numerous other steps we are taking, and I’d be happy to share further with anyone who is interested, but the main point is this: it IS possible for organisations to quickly change and support better outcomes for Care Experienced people, and I suggest to start by seeking the support of great partners like Who Cares? Scotland.  

We were delighted when the success and scope of the great partnership between the Scottish Police Authority and Who Cares? Scotland was publicly recognised in 2023, when we were shortlisted for the Scottish Public Sector Awards – a first for the Authority. The nomination recognised the Authority’s collaborative work with Who Cares? Scotland to publicly advocate for action to reduce inequalities through system wide activities to enhance the life prospects of those who have experienced care. 

While we are grateful for the recognition, I believe our work has only just begun. This year we will be developing our new Corporate Parenting Plan, and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that this is a project we’ll be working closely with Who Cares? Scotland on!  

As we reach the end stage of our story, perhaps we can work together to transform it into an interactive experience…? If you’re reading this and have any ideas of where the Scottish Police Authority could add real value then please do get in touch – we’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Let me close with the most important question. Who Cares? Well, I can safely say that we do.