Looking to the future at the end of our 30th anniversary year
18 Dec 2023
As we close out our 30th anniversary year, Steven Sweeney, Convener of Children in Scotland's Board of Directors, discusses our priorities for the future.
Before looking to the future, I would like to take a quick look back at the year 1993. It was the year the European Single Market was created, Council Tax replaced the Community Charge, President Clinton was sworn into office and, for any football fans, you might remember the late, great Craig Brown becoming Scotland’s football manager. Personally, I was an eight-year-old very committed to my daily paper round.
Children in Scotland was created in 1993. An organisation working effectively for three decades is certainly reason to celebrate. Despite all the challenges organisations face today, Children in Scotland continues to thrive, and I hope that in another 30 years, we can feel the same sense of pride at how much has been achieved over the organisation’s 60-year history.
The organisation's Manifesto, published in November 2020, makes it clear what we stand for as an organisation. Developed with our members, stakeholders and, importantly, children and young people, it has helped to prioritise our work at this difficult time and will guide our work over the coming years, up until 2026.
As well as playing an important role leading the children’s sector, Children in Scotland has supported critical cross-sector groups and alliances to progress collective work to improve children and families’ lives.
Working with the End Child Poverty Coalition, it has been promising to see progression with the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment in 2021 and the subsequent increase. Originally introduced at £10 per week for eligible families, the payment now stands at £25 per week and it is estimated that it will lift 50,000 children out of poverty this year. These steps forward are encouraging but more needs to be done for the Scottish Government to meet child poverty targets and we will continue to work with organisations across the sector to push for increased political and financial focus on eradicating child poverty.
Since publishing our Manifesto, we have also seen excitement with the unanimous passing of the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament in 2021, and frustration at delays after this legislation was challenged by the UK Government. After collective working with Together (the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), and its members, on Thursday 7 December the Bill passed the reconsideration stage in the Scottish Parliament after a unanimous vote by MSPs. This will play an important role in strengthening and raising the profile of children’s rights across society in the future.
In these challenging economic times when so many children, young people and families need support, sustainable funding across the children’s sector is now more important than ever, and it is a drum that Children in Scotland continues to beat in its influencing work with Ministers and across the Scottish Government.
The children’s sector comprises an incredible workforce, and every day we see the impact organisations and professionals make, supporting children and families to flourish. As difficult decisions are made over the next few years, Children in Scotland will continue to fight for and lead the sector to ensure the importance of our work is recognised, valued, and invested in.
I joined Children in Scotland as a Director in January 2022. In 2023, I was thrilled to take on the role of Convener following on from Maureen McGinn - who has certainly left big shoes for me to fill! My previous background in teaching and the third sector more broadly has made me passionate about lifting children and young people up in Scotland. I am proud to have played a part in Children in Scotland’s 30-year history and look forward to continuing to work with this fantastic organisation to give all children an equal chance to flourish.