Let’s take forward the 25 Calls – and make sure children are at the centre of all decisions affecting them
23 January 2020
Elma Murray OBE, Unfeartie and Chair of Young Scot and the Scottish Obesity Alliance, responds to six of our campaign calls, explaining why fighting poverty, supporting families to make positive choices, and valuing place-making are vital
Scotland has an ambition to be the best place in the world to grow up. No one could disagree with that ambition, but what do we need to do to make it true?
Children in Scotland’s 25 Calls are an important part of helping us to take action. They are clear, focussed and every organisation, or person, can find an action that they can work towards.
Over the last few years, both during my time as Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council and as the current Chair of Young Scot and the Scottish Obesity Alliance, I have become increasingly concerned about ensuring our children are given their voice when decisions are being made about their future. Which is almost all of the time.
Why do I feel so strongly about this? It’s simple. Every time that I have had the opportunity to work with children and young people, I have found them to be creative, curious, thoughtful and always, always generous with their enthusiasm and time. Each and every time I come away better off from listening to them and learning from them.
When we put children and young people at the centre of our policy and decision- making, we make different policy choices, we design and implement those policies differently, and we make decisions for the future.
“Every time I have had the opportunity to work with young people, I have found them to be creative, curious, thoughtful and generous. I come away better off from listening to them and learning from them”
As we enter 2020 I am appalled at the rising levels of poverty affecting children in Scotland. Calls 1 (click to read) and 2 (click to read) are critical to achieving a better future for our children.
Poverty affects every part of a child’s potential and their future. From the food they eat, and its quantity and quality, to the safe, secure and warm home that they should be living in, to the energy and attention that they can give to learning and playing. Children don’t create the circumstances that they live in. Adults and the organisations they work in create those conditions, and perpetuate them.
How our environment is designed and made accessible and safe is also an important factor in providing children and young people with positive choices about how they and their families choose to live. Calls 9 (click to read),19 (click to read), 22 (click to read) and 25 (click to read) all ask us to make changes to our environment and how we use it. Place-making has never been more important if we want to safeguard our children’s future.
I support all of the 25 Calls from Children in Scotland, because we all need to take action to ensure our children can flourish. Each person, and each organisation, is unable to do this alone, so we need to work together, taking shared responsibility for what we can change for the greater good.
One of the reasons I became Chair of the Scottish Obesity Alliance is because we work right across the whole system of services that focus on healthy weight. This includes those organisations that advocate and provide support for spaces that are designed for wellbeing; ensure that healthy food is more available and more affordable for everyone; and take a rights-based approach to make sure we get this right for our children.
The Alliance works collectively to inform policy and legislation to improve the quality and availability of our food and the quality and accessibility of our physical environment. The Scottish Obesity Alliance, and its members, are already focussed on progressing many of the 25 Calls to help make these changes happen, and we want to work with everyone else who has a desire to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.