We don’t have to wait to protect the rights of Care Experienced people, for life

14th June 2019

New statistics released today warn that Scotland risks a forgotten generation

  • Report shows children in care treated like second class citizens
  • Calls on importance of independent advocacy to be respected
  • Offers immediate solutions to halt rights infringements

The charity Who Cares? Scotland has published first of their kind statistics, revealing that young people in care across Scotland are continually having to fight for basic rights every single day. These have been published in a report entitled, “We Don’t Have to Wait.”

The rights young people are fighting for include things like seeing their brothers and sisters, staying in the same home for longer than a year and being heard in legal processes about their life. The charity, which delivers independent advocacy for Care Experienced people across Scotland, has warned that any planned changes to care in Scotland will be harder to achieve if young people don’t have a meaningful say in what happens in their lives.

Decades of data was analysed for the report and the charity says that despite a growing commitment across the board to making things better, the balance of power still hasn’t shifted from those delivering care. They warn that too many decisions are being made on the basis of red tape and available resources, rather than what is best for young people.

The charity has called on the importance of independent advocacy, where those supporting children to have a say aren’t connected to the services that look after them, to be respected. It says that the scale of new data from their report urges caution around the current practice of those who deliver care also taking on the role of an advocate.

Key statistics released today by the organisation show:

  • Only 7.2% of children and young people in care have been able to access independent advocacy from Who Cares? Scotland. This equates to 1.5 out of 20 young people in care being able to receive independent advocacy.
  • The most common issues children and young people ask for help with are; spending time with parents, seeing brothers and sisters and navigating formal processes that children in care are subjected to.
  • The charity has seen recorded issues related to spending time with parents as well as brothers and sisters more than double since 2014.
  • The number of recorded instances of children and young people looking for support to be heard in formal processes about their lives has seen an increase every year for the last four years.

Speaking on the release of the statistics, Duncan Dunlop, CEO of Who Care? Scotland said:

“The number of issues our advocates partner with children and young people on has shown that the most common issues have more than doubled in recorded number since 2014. We would love to be in a situation where independent advocacy was not needed, because children’s views and desires are respected. This data shows we are a long way from that.

“We have welcomed, at every turn, the commitment and determination of those responsible for young people in care to make things better. These statistics tell us that there is now a need to speed up and deepen those efforts. It would be completely unacceptable for Who Cares? Scotland to release a report in ten years that identified the same issues. If we do, it will be evident that society has forgotten a generation of Care Experienced people. We cannot miss this opportunity for change.”

Caroline Richardson, Advocacy & Participation Manager at Who Cares? Scotland said:

“I have been providing independent advocacy to children and young people since I left care over twenty years ago. Independent advocacy empowers children and young people who need a stronger voice by enabling them to express their own needs and make their own decision. It’s about supporting people to gain access to information, explore and understand their options, and to make their views and wishes known.

“It will be surprising to people that there is a demand for children to attend so many meetings, with so many adults. It will also be surprising to people that in some instances, the organisation that provides the care a young person receives is also the same organisation that provides their advocacy. That isn’t independent advocacy.

“We would love for a situation where there is no need for independent advocacy, because those providing care get it right all of the time. These statistics show that this is not the case. We’re calling on the independence of advocacy to be respected and for the number of young people who have access to independent advocacy to increase rapidly.”

Alongside the launch of their report, Who Cares? Scotland will host a meeting with the First Minister of Scotland. During this meeting Care Experienced members of the organisation will have the opportunity to speak to her about rights infringements they have suffered during their time in care.

_____
ENDS

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Jamie Kinlochan, Public Affairs Manager:
0141 226 4441 / 07900 930 584 / media@whocaresscotland.org

Kenneth Murray, Public Affairs Coordinator
0141 226 4441 / 07903 215 855 / media@whocaresscotland.org

 

NOTES TO EDITOR:

[1] For the full report including statistical release please visit here

[2] Who Cares? Scotland is commissioned by local authorities and private care. providers to provide independent advocacy to children and young people in their care.

[3] Who Cares? Scotland was named UK Charity of the Year in 2018 and one of the Big Issue’s Top 100 Changemakers for 2019.

[4] The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliancedescribes the four principles of independent advocacy as something which puts the people who use it first, is accountable, is as free as it can be from conflicts of interest and is accessible.

[5] The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliancedefines independent advocacy as a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives, separate from organisations that provide other types of services, something which does not make decisions for people but helps them access information they need to make choices.

[6] Who Cares? Scotland can arrange for access to spokespeople.

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities and funding partners, who make our work possible
Who Cares? Scotland Funding Partners