2023 highlights: reflecting on a milestone year
31 Dec 2023
As one year ends and another begins, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the previous 12 months, acknowledging challenges and celebrating successes.
From launching new participation projects to creating innovative learning programmes, supporting our growing membership community to championing the inclusion of young voices, it has been a busy year here at Children in Scotland.
Throughout 2023, our staff have worked hard to achieve the shared vision of giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish, and here, we share just a few of our highlights, achievements and proudest moments.
Our services continued to support children and young people
Through our national service, Resolve, we have continued to deliver quality mediation services across Scotland, while Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, made a successful bid to gain funding from The Promise, allowing the team to allocate resources targeted towards care experienced young people’s education.
As part of our Children’s Views work, we gathered the views of even more children aged 12-15 with additional support needs as part of My Rights, My Say (click here for more), and developed new framework that allows children outwith this age bracket to also have their views heard no matter their communication style or need.
Participation projects had meaningful impact
Continuing our dedication to the inclusion and participation of children and young people in our work, our team helped to deliver a range of projects, workshops and engagement sessions.
In February, for example, we distributed £86,000 to 161 successful applicants as part of the Access All Arts Fund (click here for more), helping to support a range of creative interests including music, photography, dance, film and TV, drawing and painting, and creative writing. Children in Scotland’s young people’s advisory group, Changing our World (click here for more), also produced an evidence paper sharing views on vaping, exploring topics such as the impact on health and wellbeing, while the Scottish Government commissioned Children in Scotland to support children and young people to engage with its public consultation on restricting alcohol advertising.
Between May and October 2023, we also worked with more than 75 children and young people, musicians, youth workers and mental health professionals to deliver free Innovation Labs. Participants enjoyed live performances from pioneering orchestra Scottish Ensemble, while exploring the impact of live music on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The Inclusion Ambassadors were recognised internationally
The Inclusion Ambassadors, a group of secondary school-aged pupils who have a range of additional support needs, were recognised in a report commissioned by the European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD). Managed by Children in Scotland and Enquire, the group was highlighted as a strong example of positive participation, engagement and pupil voice, and was commended as a model that holds “a lot of potential for replication in other countries”.
We supported and strengthened the sector
We know how difficult things have been for many organisations, so we launched free membership offers early in the year for charities with an annual income under £50,000, and organisations working primarily with minority ethnic children and families in Scotland. We were pleased to welcome a raft of new organisations into membership and see them get involved in our learning programme and projects.
After the success of this offer, we launched a permanent new membership band for any organisation in Scotland who works with children and families and has an income under £50,000 – they can join us for free.
We were also able to develop and deliver a varied hybrid learning programme thought the year. It consisted of in-person events – a Mental Health Conference, a three-day residential focussed on trauma-informed approaches, and an Early Years Conference – and a range of online learning opportunities via our webinar programme and eLearning Hub (click here for more). We have also seen a marked increase in organisations wanting bespoke support through our commissioned training offer.
Our Open Learning Programme evaluation feedback is consistently great with more than 90% of delegates rating events, content, trainers and administration as "good" or "excellent" and we see many repeat delegates and organisations across the programme.
We have continued to strive to keep prices down across both membership and the learning programme to keep our activities as accessible as possible. And, of course, our members continued to get discounts.
We celebrated 30 years
Despite some challenges this year, we created a programme of activities to mark our 30th anniversary that included all parts of the organisation and beyond. From original artwork by Issey Medd (click here for more) and regular blogs from Children in Scotland staff, members and partners across the sector to free events and Changing our World’s regular input. And not forgetting a successful climbing of 30 hills!
Our celebrations culminated in our 30th Anniversary Networking Event in November, sponsored by our corporate partner Yopa, where we got to spend an evening with a really diverse group of people reflecting back, celebrating achievements and looking to the future.
Our CEO took to the hills as we turned 30
Children in Scotland's Chief Executive Dr Judith Turbyne completed an ambitious challenge to climb 30 peaks in seven days, celebrating our 30th anniversary and raising vital funds. Scaling peaks in Fife, Stirling and the Trossachs, Aberdeenshire and the Lothians, Judith finished the ambitious itinerary on Friday 17 November as she descended Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, where she was joined by staff members. So far, the challenge has raised more than £2,000.