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Navigating post-virus renewal - five steps into the future

Our Chief Executive, Jackie Brock, sets out five anchor points towards positive change for children and families facing an uncertain future

I think we would all agree that it would be foolish to predict what will change or what will stay the same over the next year or so.

At an individual level, everyone will be experiencing loss in ways unique to them – anger, pain, frustration, anxiety. But they may also feel energised, inspired and reflective.

Julie Stokes, who founded the child bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, talks about loss and recovery in her podcast, COVID-19 and Leading Through Loss (click here to listen), which is incredibly insightful and may be helpful for those navigating these feelings.

Recognising loss has helped me to be more thoughtful and, I hope, sensitive. In external working groups, my preferred response might be to say: “Right, now is the time to transform… let’s get going” and I can find it stressful if some seem resistant to change. This is unfair. In the face of loss and anxiety, it’s perfectly reasonable that some people’s starting point is to find reassurance in more familiar ways of working and assumptions about how things are best done.

All the same, change must happen and this requires us to build on the very best features of our response to COVID-19.

What could this mean for us in Children in Scotland and across the children’s sector? There are five anchor points that will help us navigate the future:

1. Collective action

The response to COVID-19 has reinforced in very stark terms the unfairness and inequity that too many children and families face, now made worse by this situation. This is recognised across Scotland – in civic society and in local and national government bodies.

There is a tremendous opportunity for collective action, led by children and families with direct experience of these challenges. I’m encouraged and delighted that Children in Scotland can play our part in two particular responses – the development of a Scotland Approach to Family Support Services and the announcement on 20 May of an Independent Oversight Board, to be chaired by Fiona Duncan, to follow through on the promise to care experienced children and young people that the recommendations of the Independent Care Review will be delivered.

2. Driving change

Capturing the ambition that children and young people have expressed about the world they want to grow up in and contribute to. Their ambitions for action on challenging inequalities, tackling climate change and having a role in Europe will be supported by the development of our manifesto in the run-up to the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections. For more on the development of our manifesto, please click here to read our Head of Policy, Amy Woodhouse’s blog.

3. Wellbeing-driven investment

Financially, the following few years are going to be very tough. The Scottish budget must be firmly focused on ensuring the wellbeing of children and putting in place financial decisions that support children and prevent harm. Our commissioning of eminent academic Katherine Trebeck with Carnegie UK Trust and Cattanach Trust (click here to read the project summary) to raise awareness of what a robust wellbeing approach to the Scottish budget would entail, will contribute to these proposals, which must have a long-term legacy in tackling the causes of child poverty and inequality.

4. Collaboration and support

We have a unique role in bringing together experts to support and develop the children’s sector workforce, and this will continue. Our wide-ranging training and events programme will be delivered online for the foreseeable future in ways that will mean people can access the very best national and international speakers and trainers without leaving their home office (or kitchen). This unifying role will also continue through our support for children, parents and professionals on all matters concerning additional support for learning. We will ensure communications to our members keeps you as up-to-date as possible with developments as they happen.

5. Long-lasting change

Remembering and respecting the experiences and the incredible bravery of Scotland’s children and young people, their families and carers, and all who worked alongside them during the pandemic, will keep all of us motivated to achieve the long-lasting legacy of change that we know we need to secure.

About the author

Jackie Brock is the Chief Executive of Children in Scotland

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