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A chance to flourish

We’ve changed our voice and look to better reflect our ambitions to improve children’s lives, writes Jackie Brock

Making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Sometimes that feels unachievable, but it’s an ambition that all of us in Children in Scotland, our members and partners, are passionately committed to.

The challenge for the children’s sector is to identify how best we can support goals such as eradicating child poverty and addressing inequality. What role can we play as individuals, as organisations, and as a collective force?

I believe collaboration is the only chance we have of meeting these challenges. That means partnerships at every level – locally with young people and families, and at national level across the sector. We need to share knowledge and work together. A single service approach to tackling any of the challenges facing us will fail.

So, how does Children in Scotland fit in? We want to lead on finding solutions that can give all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish. As part of this, over the past 18 months we’ve asked some searching questions about our role within a thriving third sector in Scotland. The end result is a change to our voice, look and profile, and a re-articulation of our core beliefs.

Children in Scotland is in a unique position. Our audience encompasses adults working in the sector and children and young people themselves. As an organisation, we bridge the gap between them.

Our membership, which informs our policy positions and decisions about where to focus our work, is truly multidisciplinary. But we also actively seek the input of children and young people.

This breadth is our greatest strength. It allows us to cultivate strong values and base policy positions on evidence, expertise, and lived experience.

Knowledge exchange is enabled through the delivery of our continuous professional development programme. This means experts sharing their practice to strengthen skills among those who work with or for children and families – and children and families then feeling the benefit.

We can also lay claim to substantial knowledge in areas such as child protection, additional support for learning and children’s rights within our staff team. This, along with the expertise of our members, means we can comment on child policy issues with real authority – and always backed by evidence.

We are excited to be increasing our focus on working with our local networks at community level, with children and families.

From June to August 2017, we were again partners in delivering Food, Families, Futures (FFF), working with schools, local authorities, communities and businesses to offer holiday clubs and free meals over the summer holidays. With almost 4,000 places taken up, the response was extraordinary – and we are looking at extending FFF to other areas during further holiday periods.

We are also working with a range of families and community partners on a BIG Lottery funded-project about childcare. Childcare and Nurture, Glasgow East (CHANGE) will identify the current childcare provision in the North-East of Glasgow, engaging with parents and families to identify models that would better suit their needs. We hope this will ultimately improve provision and eventually serve as a model for other parts of the country.

Our in-house services, Enquire and Resolve, continue to offer advice and help to children and families on additional support for learning. Their ability to provide successful resolutions is a source of genuine pride for us.

Underlying all this activity is the message of partnership. We want to be leading and facilitating these partnerships as much as possible. We believe that as a sector we are greater than the sum of our parts. But if we are to succeed in influencing change we need to continue to work together, drawing on shared beliefs and ensuring appropriate support.

From this autumn we’re giving greater emphasis to the voices of our membership, and putting extra effort into amplifying the work of our wider network. We’re stepping into a new era and we hope you’ll come with us.

Jackie Brock is Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive

 This is an edited version of a comment piece published in Children in Scotland Magazine, issue 182 (October – November 2017)

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