Scotland stands at a critical moment. It is now, just over a year from the conclusion of the Independent Care Review which took place over three years and almost five years since the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon committed to figure out how Scotland could love all children and young people and give them the childhood they deserve.
We are the only membership organisation for Care Experienced people in Scotland. With over 3,000 members across the country, we are uniquely placed to understand the issues faced by Care Experienced people in Scotland. We secured the First Minister’s commitment to launch this Independent Review of Care in 2016. Throughout the past few years, we have been working to support those with experience of the care system across Scotland to have their voices heard as part of that review.
We welcomed the launch of The Promise, and we now welcome the Change Programme, which sets out what work is needed to realise the conclusions and promises made to transform the lives of children, young people and their families across Scotland. As a provider of independent advocacy, Who Cares? Scotland works with children, young people and adults every day to uphold their rights. Through this work, we have been able to identify ways in which Care Experienced people struggle to have their voice heard and live a life infused with equality, respect and love. This year alone, we’ve heard from 1,354 Care Experienced people about 4,149 rights-based issues they’re dealing with right now.
With independent advocates working across Scotland, we will be among the first to realise if those responsible for delivering care in Scotland are keeping the promises made within the Promise Programme for Change. Equally, we will be able to evidence positive trends and share the lived reality of the bold steps many have promised to take. We will do this in a way which proves the strength and purpose of independent advocacy, working with others to ensure we meet the principles set out in The Promise.
Likewise, as the work of the Programme is led out, we will support those with lived experience of care to collaborate with others on the improvement and redesign of care, such as through The Promise Design School Programme. We have ambitions to create belonging activity for a consistent member offer. Whilst continuing to evolve and develop our public education work in schools and communities.
We welcome the transparent process under which this work is being carried out, in particular the Change Programme which reports at which pace and strength change is taking place.
We agree with The Promise in that, whilst progress has been made, we still have a long way to go to achieve real transformative change to the lives of Care Experienced people, children, young people and their families across Scotland. Longstanding recommendations and commitments, including increasing the access to independent advocacy for Care Experienced children and young people, have not been fully realised and need addressed urgently. We particularly welcome the commitment from The Promise Scotland to scope a national model for the provision of advocacy services and are keen to be involved in developing this.
The Promise provides Scotland with an opportunity to deliver on what is needed, starting today. We support The Promise and we will do everything we can to ensure our members are heard, informed and involved in this process. Whilst we will continue to strongly advocate when necessary, we will also work in partnership with those who want to secure a lifetime of equality, love and respect for Care Experienced people.
We have echoed this message in our submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in response to their call for evidence. In September, the UN’s Day of General Discussion will take place on the topic of ‘Children’s Rights and Alternative Care’ and we felt it was vital the Committee understood our commitment to realising The Promise.