For Who Cares? Scotland, 2022 has been an important year. As we emerged from the major restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to think carefully about how best we could serve you, our members, throughout the year. We wanted to rebuild those lost connections, and ensure you had the opportunity to have your voice heard individually and collectively. Two years on from the publication of The Promise and 5 years from the start of the Independent Care Review, we also wanted to ensure that progress and implementation picked up pace. And organisationally, this was the year to agree our future priorities and launch our new strategic plan.
I’m confident that we used this year well and achieved a lot of what we set out to do. We created connection opportunities all over Scotland through our dedicated and creative team of Development Officers; we ran groups and had summer programmes; and we provided direct aid support through the Scottish Government funded programme last winter.
We listened to you and advocated for thousands of Care Experienced people in every local authority area in Scotland. Our Advocacy Workers took a relationship-based approach to getting to know people and understand what they wanted to change and helped them to request that change. For those Care Experienced people who currently do not have access to independent advocacy (likely those over the age of 26) we continued to deliver our Advocacy Helpline and developed a team of skilled and dedicated volunteers to support.
We continued to challenge public attitudes and the impact of stigma in our communities. We worked in schools and local communities and supported people with corporate parenting responsibilities to think about the improvements they need to make. We challenged the media portrayal of care experience and had a significant role in the development of the John Lewis Christmas advert.
And we continued to engage with decision makers around the policies which directly impact you – The Promise, UNCRC and the National Care Service. We facilitated events which brought Care Experienced people together with Government and Local Authority officials, and we continued to push for better progress.
Last but not least, we created those big moments, for the first time in 2 or 3 years, to bring the community together. We raised flags and banners as we marched through Glasgow for the Love Rally and celebrated and had fun at Time to Shine. We will end the year with our traditional Christmas dinner, in person on Christmas Day, to allow our care family to come together. I look forward to seeing you there 😊
In 2022 we also came to the end of our strategic plan, which had been developed pre-Promise, and pre-pandemic. Our team of staff and volunteers consulted with almost 300 people for their views on what they need from Who Cares? Scotland in the next 5 years, and we created a strategic plan to reflect that. What we heard was consistent across the care community – you asked us to ensure you are supported to understand and claim your rights; to continue to campaign and influence change; to create connection opportunities and never underestimate the desire just for fun!; and you highlighted the importance of our ongoing efforts to change public attitudes towards care. You also asked us to create a better offer for members and we’ve added that as a strategic objective to reflect the importance we place on achieving that.
Who Cares? Scotland is your organisation. Everything we do is designed to ensure we deliver on what you’ve asked of us and we will report back to you each year on our progress. We will not stop until every Care Experienced person in Scotland has equality, respect and love which endures for a lifetime. We are ready to deliver: Our Voice. Our Community. Our Future.
This article was originally written by Louise Hunter for the Winter 2022 edition of SpeakOut.