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A young person with dark hair stands in front of a group of fashion mannequins. Wearing a black jumper, they hold a brightly coloured tote bag, which features swirls of blue, purple and red
Image: Martin Shields

A young Scot designs charity tote with John Lewis to “represent the brilliance of care experienced people”

Posted 19.01.24 by Alice Hinds

A care experienced student from Glasgow has designed a new charity tote bag in partnership with retailer John Lewis, helping to raise vital funds while also inspiring young people in the care system to discover their talent.

Selected by Who Cares? Scotland (click here for more) as an individual with bags of potential, 18-year-old Michael Archibald was given the opportunity to work with the in-house design team at Saatchi & Saatchi as part of the retailer’s Building Happier Futures programme, which recruits people with care experience to work in its department stores.

The first item in a new range of products the retailer says will create more opportunities for designers with care experience, profits from sales of Michael’s bold and stylish bag – available for just £12 – will go to Action for Children, Home-Start UK, and Who Cares? Scotland.

Discussing the inspiration behind the bag, Michael said: “The stars on the bag represent the brilliance of care experienced people, and the surrounding clouds depict the love, care and respect these individuals need.

“Creative industries are such a competitive field and being given the chance to create a product that is actually my own design – and see it physically in store – is an amazing experience. It’s made me feel like I’m able to go places.”

Queralt Ferrer, John Lewis' Director of Design for Fashion, added: “We set out to design a tote bag, but beyond that, our brief to Michael was very open. We could see he has a keen eye for aesthetics, and the ability to create authentic and captivating designs.”

In 2023, the Building Happier Futures (click here for more) programme generated £1.1million for care experience charities, including supporting Who Cares? Scotland to hold events for 880 people.

Four people stand outside in front of leafy green trees. They hold guitars, while another has two blue balloons in the shape of a one and zero

Young musicians invited to Hit The Road for 10th anniversary tour

Posted 21.09.23 by Alice Hinds

Celebrating 10 years of helping shape musical talent in Scotland, Hit The Road is inviting budding teenage artists to join them on a new anniversary tour

Launched in 2013, the project has supported more than 300 musicians across 120 live performances, delivering hundreds of industry sessions and helping aspiring young musicians to develop their talent and network with other artists.

Now, the initiative is encouraging musicians aged 14 to 19 to join its upcoming touring season, which will include performing at venues across Scotland, while also learning from seasoned industry professionals through a series of specialist workshops.

The workshops will cover a wide range of topics, from live sound engineering to stage production, equipping young artists with essential knowledge and skills for developing a career in the music industry.

Managed by the Scottish Music Centre and funded by the Youth Music Initiative (click here for more) via Creative Scotland and the PRS Foundation, the project has supported performers including singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi and Perthshire-based pop-rock band Parliamo – and organisers hope to find Scotland’s next music sensation as they open up applications for the new touring season.

“Reaching the milestone of a decade for Hit The Road is an incredibly proud moment for all of us who have been a part of this journey,” explained the project’s manager Michael Cassidy. “Over the past decade, we've witnessed the transformative power of live music on the lives of young people across Scotland, and it's incredible to see how far so many of them have come within the music industry.

“Hit The Road's primary objective has always been to provide budding artists with a stepping stone into the world of professional music, helping those who may not otherwise have the means to tour professionally and showcase their music to different audiences across Scotland.

“As we enter our tenth year, we are incredibly excited to discover and nurture new musical talent, and look forward to welcoming a new generation of artists ready to carve their own paths in Scotland’s vibrant music scene. If you are between the ages of 14 and 19 and have a passion for music and live performance we would love to hear from you!”

Applications are open now for the next touring season of Hit The Road, which will take place between September 2023 and March 2024, with all gigs hosted in safe venues across Scotland which are suitable for ages 14 plus.

Due to the project's popularity, young musicians are encouraged to submit their applications early to avoid missing out.

For more information and to apply, click here to visit the Hit The Road website:

“Children and young people need better support to identify when a lawyer may be able to help uphold their rights, and where this is the case, they need easier access to highly skilled lawyers. Achieving this requires systemic and cultural change, and greater resourcing.”

Not only did the Alright? project provide a creative output for the participating children and young people, it also shares an important message about the need for lawyers who care about the young people they support, and highlights that young people want lawyers who are able to communicate and connect.

Ruth Kerracher of Youth Justice Voices (click here for more) added: “The Rights In Justice project has been a key feature of Youth Justice Voices work. Young people involved in the project have been able to articulate what they need and want from lawyers.

“‘Alright?’ is a powerful output, it was co-produced with young people and really brings to life the importance of relationships, time and what lawyers can do to uphold children’s rights. We hope that greater training is provided to ensure that support is age appropriate and children and young people understand the decisions or processes which impact on their lives.”

Clan Childlaw was established 15 years ago to give children and young people facing adversity in Scotland their own lawyers, protecting and strengthening their rights, giving them a voice in decision-making that impacts their futures, and to improving their lives.

For more information, click here to visit the Clan Childlaw website:

Paint palette with child's hand holding brush

BBC Children in Need launches coronation portrait project

Posted 20.04.23 by Alice Hinds

Children around the country have been invited to take part in the upcoming coronation by contributing to a “giant digital portrait” of King Charles III.

Launched by BBC Children in Need, The Royally Big Portrait will feature thousands of individual images of the King, drawn by young people and then compiled by artist Sam Barnett, who says the project will “celebrate every child’s creativity and give them the self-belief to achieve”.

Children have the opportunity not only to be part of a “national moment” and see their artwork cemented in history but, if 5,000 submissions are received for the project, as Children in Need hopes, they will also be part of breaking a Guinness World Record for the most online contributions to a digital piece of artwork.

The finished portrait will be displayed on giant screens at The Outernet, London, from 1-8 May, with on-site iPads allowing young contributors to find their own drawing within the compilation.

Barnett, who trained as a lawyer and became a full-time artist in his late 30s, said he wants children to feel inspired by the final piece.

“If you can make a kid feel like they’ve broken a record, they are history makers, they’re part of this national moment.”

Proceeds from the print version of the Royally Big Portrait, available from the charity's website, will support more than 160 BBC Children in Need funded projects, which work with children and young people experiencing food insecurity.

The final date for children to send in their digital drawings to the Children In Need website is Friday, 28 April.

Click here to find out more and submit artwork:

Pots of paint, smiley face stickers and other art supplies

Young people encouraged to ‘step into’ cultural experiences

Posted 12.04.23 by Lynn Gilmour

A new youth-led fund has opened to provide opportunities and support for young people to get involved in the arts.

Step into the Arts is especially aimed at young people who might not usually be able to access the arts or cultural experiences, with a total of £65,000 available to young people aged 5-25 from across Scotland.

The fund, which is managed by Youth Scotland and Creative Scotland, has two parts: First steps into the arts, for young people who have some, a little or no experience of the arts and want to explore them further, and Next steps into the arts, which is for young people who have experience in the arts and want to improve their practice or may be considering a creative career.

The fund is completely youth-led and was designed by a team of 14 young grantmakers aged 14–25, who devised the fund name, format and scope.

When applying, the idea must come from the young person or people; they must decide on what to put in the application and carry out the project if they are successful. Young people can apply as an individual or team of two, or in a group of three or more.

Young people who may need extra support to apply and carry out their project if they are successful can seek help from a supporting adult.

Speaking at the launch of the fund, Mike Strang, Chief Executive at Youth Scotland said: “Step into the Arts is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Scotland who are interested in the arts or are facing barriers in accessing them.”

Sarah Mcadam, TTS Programme Manager, Creative Scotland said: “This programme presents an exciting opportunity for children and young people to step into the arts and bring their creative ideas and projects to life. Developed and led by young people, Step into the Arts enables young people to directly influence decision-making in the arts, develop their own interests and creativity and share these with their communities.”

For full details on the criteria, what funding can be used for and how to apply, young people and youth workers can click here to visit the Youth Scotland website:


Photo of a young man dancing. He is mid-leap with one arm in the air. He is on a roof top with buildings in the background, and there are netted sheets surrounding him.

News: Dance film created by 17-year-old choreographer in response to the climate crisis

Posted on 28 February, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Dance film 'elemental' explores our interaction with the natural elements in a narrative on climate change, choreographed by a young person supported by the Access All Arts Fund

As a response to the climate crisis and a way to encourage boys and young men to pursue dance, young neurodivergent choreographer Ross Hoey created the dance film with filmmaker Lewis Landini. 

elemental shows the character of Human, as they meet and bring harm to the Earth’s elements, before finding out that they have not been completed destroyed. This leads to repercussions for Human as the elements resist.

The film is accompanied by an educational resource for teachers and dance instructors. It includes discussion and movement activities that relate to the performance, and provides information for young people to learn more about the climate crisis. 

Ross' dance film was produced by Overdrive Dance Company, a community-based organisation that was established for male-identifying young people. 

Overdrive works to address the stigma of boys’ participation in dance and overcome the financial barriers that people often encounter across the arts. 

Funding creativity

Ross was a successful applicant to the Access All Arts Fund, a fund managed by Children in Scotland. The film was supported by investment from Creative Scotland as part of its youth arts initiative. 

The project was one of 106 funded in 2021-22. Earlier this month it was announced that the second phase had gone on to support a further 162 young people with their creative pursuits.

The fund was established to help children and young people who experience barriers to accessing creative opportunities to support their wellbeing. The first phase was focused on young people with disabilities or additional support needs. 

On the film’s release, David Mackay, Access All Arts Fund project lead and Policy & Projects Manager at Children in Scotland, said:

“The Access All Arts Fund supported Ross to create this wonderful new film and stretch himself as a choreographer, which is great to see. We know that many young people face barriers to taking part in the creative arts – whether it’s simply for their own enjoyment or to realise ambitious creative projects. 

“We must ensure that we open up arts opportunities for children and young people, because everyone has a story to tell.”   

Click here to watch the film

A woman wearing a large rucksack and holding a cardboard sign with a whale painted on it. She is standing up to her waist in the sea and has a concerned expression

News: Climate-conscious theatre performance tours Scottish schools

Posted 22 February, 2023 by Nina Joynson. Photo credit: Andrew Perry

Activism and the climate crisis is the focus of 'Maya and The Whale', a new theatre production touring Scottish schools in February and March.

Aimed at upper primary and lower secondary classes, Maya and The Whale follows a young climate activist who comes face-to-face with a dying whale.

Creator Hazel Darwin-Clements plays Maya the teenage activist while the school audience takes on the role of the whale, creating an interactive experience for pupils. 

First shared during COP26, the play is a response to the youth climate strikes and explores activism and the climate crisis as experienced by young people. 

The creators are also providing schools with learning resources and contacts for local projects to encourage them to continue discussions on and engagement with climate resilience after the performance. 

The play is suitable for P6-7 and S1-2 and performances are taking place in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Lothians until Friday 3 March, before the show tours more widely across Scotland until the end of March.

Produced by Theatre in Schools Scotland – the schools touring project managed by National Theatre of Scotland and Imaginate, the show is created and performed by Hazel Darwin-Clements with live music from Nik Paget-Tomlinson.

Climate-minded touring

The climate crisis is a central theme of Hazel Darwin-Clements' work, prompting her to develop a more sustainable way of touring her theatre performances.

All props and costumes for the show have been borrowed or bought second-hand with consideration of ethical supply chains and product longevity.

The performer and accompanying musician are also travelling to schools exclusively by e-bike and public transport, and the play was written to be performed without a stage set or lighting so that time usually spent in set-up can be given to longer travel times, and equipment doesn't need transportation.

Everything for the performance is small and light enough to fit in bike panniers or a backpack.

The company is also booking dates in Scotland with travel and distance in mind, to reduce the tour's carbon impact.

Early reviews

Having started its tour on Monday, Corstorphine Primary School in Edinburgh has been one of the first to see Maya and the Whale.

"I thought it was amazing how the actor told the story using all the different characters!", one P5 pupil said.

While Tanya McLaughlin, a teacher at the school, said:

"The show deepens the impact of the curriculum and the children's learning about climate change and its impact on the world in an engaging, entertaining way.

"It captured the imagination of all the children and allowed them to access their learning out of the classroom."

Click here to learn more about Maya and the Whale


Coloured blue, red, purple, yellow, green, orange and pink pencils arranged with their nibs all pointing together, forming a circle.

News: CELCIS' annual Christmas card design competition now open

Posted 29 November, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

School-aged children and young people with care experience are being invited to submit their designs for this year's Christmas card.

The design competition, run annually by the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS), based at the University of Strathclyde, invites young people with care experience to submit designs for the CELCIS Christmas card.

The chosen design will be featured on the Centre’s e-card and sent throughout the UK and abroad. The winner will also receive a £50 gift voucher.

Judged by CELCIS staff, budding artists need to ensure their entry has a festive theme, is all their own work and is able to be reproduced electronically. Those submitting their designs are also encouraged to use “lots of colour, imagination and originality.”

The competition is open to all young people under 18 who are in care. This could be through being looked after by foster carers, prospective adopters or in kinship care, living in residential care homes or in a group care setting, or someone who is adopted.

Last year the competition received more than 150 entries. The eventual winner was chosen as 13-year-old Harley from Argyll for his festive drawing of a stag with red robins sitting amongst his antlers.

Entries for the 2022 competition can be submitted to CELCIS via email or post. Closing date is Monday 5 December.

Click here to download the competition flyer

Click here to view last year's designs

Photo of four people sitting on chairs reading from paper. There is a white projector screen at the back, and a filming camera in the foreground.

News: Care Week to be marked with free performance exploring Scotland's care system

Posted 19 October, 2022 by Nina Joynson. Image credit: Julie Howden.

National Theatre of Scotland will stream a free package of theatre work for three weeks, including a filmed script reading and panel discussion that explores the care system.

To mark National Care Leavers' Week in the UK and Care Experienced Week in Scotland, audiences will have free access to Holding/Holding Ona filmed reading of playwright Nicola McCartney's script.

Available for three weeks from 21 October, the film will be accompanied by a  panel discussion recorded during the Scottish Parliament's Festival of Politics 2022.

Holding/Holding On

With experience as a foster carer, Nicola McCartney met with care-experienced young people and adults, care professionals, and Independent Care Review contributors to develop the script with authentic narratives.

Its reading has been been filmed with a cast of nine performers in scenes that focus on how society treats those in care, those who are care experienced, and the experiences of carers.

It highlights the language used to define them; society’s fascination with media tropes; the entanglement of care with class and poverty, and the role that care actually plays in the care system.

The script's writer, Nicola McCartney, said:

“‘Holding/ Holding On’ gives different perspectives on how we look after our most vulnerable children and where we might go in future.

"The filmed reading of our work-in-progress puts forward ideas about what’s not working, celebrates some of what is and I hope asks some big questions about what each of us needs to do to really make Scotland ‘the best place in the world to grow up’”.

A conversation about care 

Care, Love and Understanding – a panel discussion exploring how society treats young people and adults in the Scottish care system will be released alongside the film.

Chaired by Karen Adam MSP, panellists include Ryan McCuaig, chair of the board at Who Cares? Scotland, and Kenneth Murray and Nicola McCartney from the Holding/Holding On project.

The discussion looks at the role that class and poverty plays in the system and asks where love and compassion come on the list of priorities.

Both Holding/Holding On, a filmed script reading, and Care, Love and Understanding, a panel discussion, will be available freely for audiences from 21 October until 10 November.

Click here to learn more on the National Theatre of Scotland website

Young people across Scotland encouraged to Access All Arts as phase two of Fund launches

13 October 2022

Following its success last year, the Access All Arts Fund is back to support more young people to access creative opportunities.

Applications to the Fund are open from today (Thursday 13 October), with young people who have encountered any barriers to accessing arts experiences in their lives encouraged to apply.

Click here to find out how to apply to the project

The Fund, delivered by Children in Scotland as part of Creative Scotland’s youth arts funding, aims to help children and young people experience creative arts opportunities and strengthen wellbeing as a result.

While in its first year, the Fund focused on young people with disabilities or additional support needs. This year the emphasis is on any young people who are facing obstacles to taking part in creative experiences. These could include poverty or cultural barriers.

David Mackay, Children in Scotland’s Policy & Projects Manager and Access All Arts Fund project lead said:

“We’re delighted to launch phase two of the Fund after the success of its first year, which saw 235 applications from children and young people and £68,000 being distributed to support visual art, music, film and TV and creative writing projects across Scotland.

“We know many young people face barriers to accessing the arts, including disability, poverty, and poor mental health. The Fund is designed to help overcome these so that as many young people as possible can enjoy creativity and experience improved wellbeing.

“This Fund is unique: it is truly ‘made by young people for young people’, and we’re hugely looking forward to being able to support more young people get involved in the fantastic creative projects that are out there.”

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 14 November.

Apply today!

Find out more about the Fund and how you can apply. Deadline: 14 November

Click here for more

Year one success

106 young people took forward arts projects as a result of Phase 1 funding (Image by AAA awardee)

Click here for more

Fund partner

Access All Arts is delivered as part of Creative Scotland's youth arts funding

Click here for more

New fund supports 106 young people with additional support needs to access the arts and unlock their creative potential

28 April 2022


A total of 106 young people with additional support needs have taken forward creative arts projects as a result of funding from the Access All Arts Fund, led by national charity Children in Scotland.

The fund, delivered through Creative Scotland’s Nurturing Talent Fund: New Routes programme, distributed £68,000 to young people across Scotland, supporting projects ranging from dance to drama and visual art to television.

As a result of the fund’s success, Creative Scotland will be supporting a second phase of the project from 2022-23.

A report on the first year of the Access All Arts Fund, capturing its aims, approach, impact and recommendations, is published today.

Click here to download the report

The Access All Arts Fund was established specifically to support children and young people with an additional support need or disability, a community who have experienced significant challenges during the pandemic.

A cartoon drawing of ballet shoes, drama mask, a microphone and a pencil and notebook. The Access All Arts Fund logo in the centre.

Children in Scotland recruited four children and young people with a range of additional support needs as panellists to lead the design of the fund, make decisions about funding and support creative initiatives. The panel comprised young people aged 12-25 from West Lothian, Stirling and Glasgow.

With year one of the fund successfully completed, recruitment of young people to take part in the year two panel will begin shortly.

Activity in 2022-23 will have a strong emphasis on wellbeing and a continued focus on young people as project co-designers.

Ryan Cuzen, one of the panel members who took part in the project over the past year, said:

“Having young people with lived experience of a disability or additional support needs involved in the design of funds, training programmes and opportunities is vital. It shows we are being listening to, included and our ideas and voices are being heard.”

David Mackay, Policy & Projects Manager at Children in Scotland and Access All Arts Fund project lead, said:

“It’s been fantastic to work with the young people on our design panel over the past year and to see the incredible response to the fund. The Access All Arts Fund has had a significant impact on many children and young people’s lives – helping them to improve their wellbeing, learn new skills and open up new creative opportunities. We are delighted that Creative Scotland has announced it will be supporting a second round of the fund in 2022.

“We look forward to continuing to support children and young people with additional support needs or a disability to access the arts and realise their full potential.”

Sarah Mcadam, Youth Arts Programme Manager at Creative Scotland said: “The high demand for Access All Arts in 2021 showed us the important role that arts and creativity was able to play in the lives of children and young people who were experiencing significant challenges during the pandemic.

“We’re thrilled that through renewed support, this programme will give more children and young people opportunities to lead on decision-making and access the funding they need to bring their creative ideas to life.”

Recommendations in the report on year one of the project include:

  • Creative Scotland should continue to fund Access all Arts. The fund has been successful in reaching a previously under-represented community and evaluation suggests it has had a positive impact for many young people.
  • Creative Scotland and Children in Scotland should share key learning from the project with policy leads and decision-makers, identifying opportunities to influence other initiatives designed to support children and young people’s learning and wellbeing following the pandemic.
  • In additional rounds of the fund, increased time and financial resource should go to outreach work and building relationships with organisations supporting specific communities (for example, deaf children and children and young people with a visual impairment). This would encourage a wider diversity of applications to join the design panel and an increased range of applications.

The fund was open for applications from 11 August - 13 September 2021 and received 236 submissions from children and young people aged 11 to 26.

A large number of applications included requests to purchase items ranging from drawing and painting materials to musical instruments or photographic equipment.

Funding allowed children and young people to attend music, dance or drama tuition classes, realise zine-making projects, progress their song-writing ability and learn silversmithing skills and clothing design.

Evaluation of the project concludes that the fund:

  • Provided opportunities for children and young people to explore their unique personal interests and passions
  • Gave them autonomy and agency to develop projects and learn new skills while supporting their wellbeing
  • Created opportunities for them to overcome barriers and try new creative experiences and, in some cases, supported career development opportunities.


Images available on request.
Media contact: Chris Small,

Notes for editors

Project background

In 2021 Children in Scotland was one of five organisations selected by Creative Scotland to deliver the Nurturing Talent Fund: New Routes programme.

The programme was created to test new approaches to support children and young people to apply for arts funding, in order to reach artists who were under-represented in the existing Nurturing Talent funding awards.
These communities included:

  • Young artists from care-experienced backgrounds
  • Young artists from rural communities and local authorities we get fewer applications from, specifically: Angus, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, and Fife
  • Young disabled artists, or young people who need additional support.

Click here for more information about the Nurturing Talent Fund: New Routes programme

Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at

Access All Arts Fund

Find out more about the first year of the Fund in this final report

Click here to read

Find out more about our projects

Browse and learn about all our current and past projects

Click here to search our projects

Partner: Creative Scotland

The Access All Arts Fund is part of Creative Scotland's Nurturing Talent Fund New Route Programme.

Click here to find out more