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News: Young men's mental health and participation is the focus of new research

Posted 11 January, 2023 by Nina Joynson

A new two-year study led by Children and Young People’s Centre will focus on understanding the mental health challenges faced by three marginalised groups of young men aged 16-24.

The project, Men Minds, will see collaboration between academics from three universities with up to twelve young men aged 16-24 to explore masculinities, mental health, wellbeing and help-seeking.

Participants from three groups of marginalised communities will form a Young People's Forum: those who are migrants, those who are LGBTQ+ and those in conflict with the law. 

All three groups are more likely than other groups to face challenges to their mental health, as well as additional barriers to accessing support services and opportunities to participate in research. 

The study aims to understand how research engagement with marginalised young men can be improved, and to co-produce new knowledge on adolescent mental health and help-seeking.

After designing accessible research methods with the initial 12 participants, the Forum will then use these methods to conduct further research with a wider group of up to 80 young men.

More widely, Men Minds aims to engage with non-academic partners to ensure its output contributes to policy and practice change.

The study is funded by UKRI and will bring together academics in Scotland and Australia from the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee and Monash. 

Dr. Nina Vaswani, research lead at CYCJ, is Men Minds' principal investigator. On the project, she said:

“It’s about creating an environment in which we can explore these ideas, to make information more inclusive and to support young men to lead on developing better research.

“The knowledge that we will gain from having more accessible research methods will also feed into service provision, practice and policy. Our non-academic partners will help with translating this new knowledge into tangible change for young men.”

The project will soon start seeking young men aged 16-24 to join its Young People's Forum.

Click here to visit the Men Minds website

"Care experienced young people need love, relationships and community. They deserve the same as all of us: to belong"

13 October 2022

The Home and Belonging evaluation demonstrates why security and support is fundamental for young people with care experience as they move into their own home, writes Jo Derrick

Children in Scotland and Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum) are pleased to launch the findings and recommendations of the Home and Belonging Initiative evaluation, undertaken on behalf of Life Changes Trust (LCT).

The report surfaces three key themes that emerge from the evaluation and the collective voices of young people and the teams that support them:

  • The Importance of relationships and support
  • Conceding power and control to young people with care experience
  • The importance of high-quality, suitable housing.


The Life Changes Trust (LCT) was created in 2013 with a £50 million, 10-year endowment fund from the National Lottery Community Fund (the Trust closed in March 2022). It used the money to help drive transformational improvements in the lives of young people with care experience and individuals with dementia and those who care for them.

Their voices, needs and wellbeing are at the heart of all the work they funded, and more information can be found on their website. LCT wanted a Scotland where all young people with care experience see a positive and permanent shift in their quality of life, physical and mental wellbeing, empowerment and inclusion.

One of the key principles of LCT was that young people are the experts in their own lives – experts by experience – and that theirs is the most important voice in shaping projects, planning funding and informing local and national policy. Fundamentally their main purpose was to support those voices so that they are heard.

This principle was a crucial one when undertaking the evaluation of the 11 projects involved in the Home and Belonging initiative. The need and desire to embed relationship-based approach to support, along with bricks and mortar, is evident throughout the projects and reflected in the experience of young people involved:

“I’ve met some really nice, understanding and kind people… Relationships come and go but the ones that stay have the biggest impacts as they really care and listen to you and want you to do well” (Alexia)

The importance of a range of supportive relationships is further captured here in relation to Jason, another young person who contributed to the case studies in the evaluation report.

“Jason receives support from a range of different SOYA staff which means he has several supporting relationships in his life. Having a consistent pool of staff provides stability and consistency for Jason and it also gives him the freedom to work with different people and to identify which relationships he values and gains most from.”

I am, of course biased, but I would highly recommend reading this report to hear from young people themselves the impact that participation in these projects has had on them, and the positive impact of delivering these projects to young people has had on the team around them.

Further, this evaluation not only highlights the major themes to emerge from the evaluation, it makes key recommendations for national decision-makers, local decision-makers and people working directly with young people with care experience. It is vital that we see the findings and recommendations from evaluations like these embedded into sustainable practice and respond to the voices of those experts by experience who have so considerately allowed us to represent their voices.

I could further strengthen my case for this evaluation by referring to the importance of belonging as part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and arguing that, if that need is not met, then we may be unable to progress and meet our other needs and therefore make an important case for taking forward a sustainability approach. However, I feel the quote below from Erwin McManus captures the essence of this evaluation and why it is such an important read:

“Home is ultimately not about a place to live but about the people with whom you are most fully alive. Home is about love, relationship, community, and belonging, and we are all searching for home.” (Erwin McManus)

Jo Derrick is CEO of Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum)




The Home and Belonging initiative

Find out about all the learning and recommendations from the three-year project

Click here to read

About the author

Jo Derrick is CEO of Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum)

Click here for more

Our Participation Guidelines

Our guidelines for participation with young people were updated in 2022

Click here to download

2022 Annual Conference

Join us to discuss what’s next for the sector and our work to improve children’s lives

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‘Transfer of power’ vital in securing positive outcomes for care experienced young people

Media Release

12 October 2022

Supportive relationships, appropriate housing, and adults transferring decision-making power are key to securing good outcomes for care experienced young people, according to a report published today.

The report marks the conclusion of the evaluation of the Home and Belonging (H&B) initiative, led by Children in Scotland and Staf (the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum).

The initiative challenged the status quo which sees many care experienced young people endure broken tenancies, isolation in the community and spells of homelessness.

Managed at the outset by the Life Changes Trust, H&B funded 11 projects to explore innovative ways of providing housing support to those with experience of care as they moved into their first home. It aimed to improve experiences of home, connections in the community and transitions from care.

Click here to download and read the Final Report

The report identifies the following as being essential in improving wellbeing and security for care experienced young people:

Adults giving up decision-making power to young people with care experience

  • A rights-based, participative approach to decision-making about anything that affects young people with care experience should become the norm
  • Lessons should be learned about the way corporate parenting boards operate. Young people with care experience must be actively involved with a clear role
  • The voices of young people with care experience must be at the heart of driving change.

Relationships and support

  • Meaningful relationships with trusted professionals, and the value of this in a housing context, must be recognised
  • The impact supportive relationships with professionals had on young people’s ability to engage with services and maintain tenancies, and how positive relationships with peers and in the community translated to wellbeing, also needs to be recognised.

Availability of high-quality, suitable housing

  • There must be a wider range of housing options as young people leave care
  • Housing must have essentials and be in a decent condition when people move in. Young people should also be able to personalise their space.
  • Housing policy and processes should be more trauma-informed and responsive.

A rights-based participative approach prioritising care experienced young people’s voices was central to the project. In its first year, Children in Scotland and Staf worked with three young people with experience of care to develop the project approach.

In Year 3 Children in Scotland employed a Project Assistant with experience of care to support the development of the evaluation and be involved in the final analysis.

David Mackay, Children in Scotland’s Policy & Projects Manager, and Home and Belonging project lead, said:

“Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, Home and Belonging produced many examples of how a model based on participation and lived experience can deliver for care experienced young people.

“On the back of these findings, we believe there is potential for continued embedding of participation and a transfer of decision-making from adults to young people so they can be more involved in decisions about their lives.

“Children in Scotland and Staf would like everyone committed to supporting care experienced young people to take forward the learning from Home and Belonging and support this participative approach. It needs to become the norm.”

Jo Derrick, Chief Executive of Staf, said:

“There are few things in life as important as having a sense of home and belonging. Too often we hear from young people with care experience of the challenges they face having even their most basic needs met in this regard.

"Staf is proud to have worked with Children in Scotland on the Home and Belonging initiative to ensure young people’s voice has been integral to the evaluation and the subsequent key findings and recommendations.

“We stand ready to support Scotland to take these recommendations forward. We want to ensure that relationships, and a recognition that young people are experts in their own lives, are viewed as having equal importance to high-quality provision of housing.”

The report also sets out a series of recommendations Children in Scotland and Staf are asking national and local decision-makers and practitioners and organisations working with young people with experience of care to take forward. These include:

National decision-makers

  • Embed the principles of The Promise into national policy, in particular ensuring this supports ongoing, meaningful relationships
  • Take steps to ensure appropriate housing stock is available across the country
  • Consider how national legislation, policy and guidance can support people to access secure tenancies as they leave care.

Local decision-makers

  • Ensure a diverse range of housing options within local authorities
  • Consider ‘elastic tolerance’ approaches to housing policy to ensure trauma-informed options can be embedded
  • Ensure a trauma-informed, relationship-based approach is available for young people with experience of care as they move into their first home.

Practitioners and organisations working with young people with experience of care:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of housing options and support locally and discuss these with young people with experience of care as they approach the stage of moving to their first home
  • Embed relationship-based practice in work by ensure appropriate CPD opportunities are available.

To support learning from the initiative, advice and recommendations for decision-makers and practitioners and organisations working with people with experience of care has been compiled in the report.

This have been developed from work evaluating the initiative and includes views from the engagement with staff at the funded projects in the final year of the evaluation.

See the Notes for Editors section below for further background information about the project.


Media contact: Chris Small – email

Notes for editors

Project background

The £3 million Home and Belonging initiative was devised by the Life Changes Trust to explore innovative approaches to improving young people’s experiences as they move on from care and into their own homes.

Eleven projects across Scotland received funding from the Life Changes Trust, with the majority funded for a three-year period. All the projects were designed in collaboration with young people with care experience and involved them in their project delivery.

The main aims of the projects were to support young people to feel increased levels of security and stability, and to help them to find a strong sense of home and belonging in their communities. The projects hoped to offer young people more choice and agency in relation to where and how they lived when they moved on from care.

Children in Scotland and Staf (the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum) conducted an independent evaluation of the Home and Belonging initiative between August 2019 and August 2022. Through paid employment opportunities, the voices of young people with care experience played a significant role in shaping our evaluation activity and final evaluation outputs.

Click here for more information on the project

About Staf

Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum) is Scotland’s national membership organisation for all of those involved in the lives of young people leaving care. Our vision is that the wellbeing and success of young people leaving care across Scotland is indistinguishable from that of their peers in the general population. Together we can make that happen.

Click here for more

About 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.

 Click here for more

Home and Belonging final report

Learning from the project and calls about how to support and empower care experienced young people

Click here to read

Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum

Find out more about Staf, our project partner on the Home and Belonging initiative

Click here to read

Key findings

A summary from the project of positive ways care experienced young people can be supported when moving into their first home

Click here to read more

Case studies

Four case studies which share stories and insights from across the Home and Belonging initiative

Click here to read more


A breakdown of the evaluation approach which was used across the three years of the project

Click here to read more

Year One Progress Report

Download the report to find out about key learning from the initiative in 2019-20

Click here to read

The Promise

Find out about work to deliver on the change demanded by the findings of the Independent Care Review, a key area of crossover with the Home and Belonging project

Click here for more

Life Changes Trust (2013-2022)

Information about the charity that originally managed the Home and Belonging project

Click here for more

Our projects

Our project work is underpinned by a commitment to children's rights and participation

Click here for more

Participation Guidelines

Our guidelines for participation with young people were updated in 2022

Click here to read

Measurement and mission statement: what our new values mean to us

5 May 2022

Chris Small on why we decided to refresh our values and the thinking behind the updated wording

What’s the point of values? In our view, as an organisation with a remit to improve children’s lives, they are vital.

Here are a few quotes from a survey of our staff, explaining why:

“Values provide a set of core beliefs and principles that act as a guide to how we should approach our work, external and internal relationships and communications”

“They help define our personality and inspire staff to a greater sense of purpose and engagement.”

“Values give everyone a shared sense of belonging to a larger mission in order to motivate us and drive our work”

“They act as a  benchmark for how the organisation should behave.”

Values have been important to us as an organisation since we were founded 29 years ago. But over the past decade we’ve been more assertive about them, threading them through internal work and public-facing activities.

In interviews recruiting for new staff, we ask candidates to talk about their experience in the context of our values. In one to one supervision, line managers ask staff they support to use our values as a reference point for discussing their work.

Our 2017 rebrand was about bringing our values to the fore, telling people what we believed in and how we wanted to achieve a more equal society for children.

Many contributors to our 25 Calls campaign (2018-20) referenced the power of values – our own and those of the organisations and young people we work with.

Our 2021-26 Manifesto picks up on that concern. Call 32 says the children’s sector must achieve ‘a fully values-driven workforce through refreshing its commitment to the Common Core of Skills, Knowledge and Understanding and Values for the Children’s Workforce in Scotland’.

But we’re also aware that values can evolve alongside organisational and societal change. We’ve learnt a lot since our previous values wording was created in 2014: about how best to take a stand on issues young people care about, how to absorb learning from projects, how to be more accessible, and how to ensure staff, young people and members can participate in our decision-making.

We want our values to be built on that learning and to correspond to the sector and society we’re part of now. So last year we decided to refresh the values, initiating a six-month project that included consultation with our staff, our children and young people’s advisory group Changing our World, our members and our Board.

The update balances the voices of those core groups, and makes our values feel more human, relevant and in tune with 2022. So, what’s different?

Changing our World members were rightly insistent that a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion was of overarching importance. That’s why it’s included in a new introduction which explains the purpose and meaning of our values.

The first of the four values is Brave, illustrating our determination to champion children’s rights and advocate for young people, even on issues that might attract hostility.

But we’re conscious that ‘bravery’ has wider meanings. It doesn’t have to be a synonym for ‘strong’. As our Head of Services Billy Anderson argues in the new edition of our members’ publication Insight, being vulnerable is often the foundation for courage.

Collaborative speaks to Children in Scotland’s character as a partnership organisation with democratic instincts. We felt our ability to bring voices together to achieve shared aims needed to be stated more explicitly in our values.

We now describe ourselves as Open and Fair, reflecting our aspiration to always be as transparent and accessible as possible and to share our learning and ideas.

Finally, we are Kind, a word that came up repeatedly in responses from our staff and Changing our World. I view it as reflecting a quality of the organisation that’s been evidenced forcefully over the past two difficult years, and which we will continue to live by.

There’s also some deliberate continuity with the values wording introduced eight years ago; our commitment to accountability, trust and respect isn’t something that’s going to go away.

Through the work of our designer Angus Doyle we’re able to bring this language together with energy, colour and visual impact, as you’ll see from the graphic on our new Vision, Priorities and Values page.

Thank you to our staff, young people’s advisory group, members and board for taking part in the project.

I hope that, on reading the new values, you recognise something of your experience of Children in Scotland. We believe they give us a description of who we are, a way of measuring how well we’re doing, and a mission statement for what we want to achieve.

Click here to read our refreshed values in full

Chris Small is Children in Scotland's Communications Manager

Introducing our refreshed values

We've updated how we describe our beliefs, qualities and ambitions

Click here to read

About the author

Chris Small is Children in Scotland's Communications Manager

Click here to find out more

2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto is supported by organisations from across the children's sector

Click here to read more

Changing our World

Our children and young people's advisory group helped to shape our values

Click here for more

25 Calls

Our anniversary campaign shared ideas on how to enhance equality and rights

Click here for more

An equal chance to flourish

As part of our 2017 rebrand, we rearticulated our work and ambitions for change

Click to watch a short film

Join us in membership

Become a member and be part of efforts for change to improve children's lives

Click here for more

Our board

A committed board of directors guides and supports the work we do

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

Our young people's advisory group responds to Human Rights Act reform proposals

16 March 2022

Parisa Shirazi summarises Changing our World's views on significant draft legislation from the UK Government

As soon as we read the UK Government’s proposed changes to the Human Rights Act, we knew that this was a consultation we had to respond to.

We wanted to ensure that the voices of children and young people were heard directly. The proposals contain wide-ranging, unsubstantiated and alarming changes to human rights protection in the UK through the replacement of  the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).

We had a dedicated session with members of our children and young people’s advisory group, Changing our World (CoW), about the suggested changes to see what they thought.

‘A fallacy of logic’

Members were concerned about proposals that would differentiate between claimants bringing human rights claims to courts by looking at their criminal history.

They pointed out that human rights are universal: “This is a fallacy of logic. If human rights apply to everyone, then you cannot judge on character in applying them!”

They were also concerned about the government’s emphasis on deportation in the consultation and about changes aimed at “groups that this government finds unpopular”.

The group was surprised about the government’s focus on the right to freedom of expression and intentions to  “strengthen the protection of” this right. This is an article protected through the HRA and the government has recently proposed legislation that would limit the right to protest peacefully in the UK. As one member stated, “It’s very contradictory, I don’t really understand”.

Improved implementation and education

CoW called for improved implementation of the rights already contained within the HRA, alongside greater education on human rights, both in school curriculums and beyond to enhance the level of ownership people in the UK have over their rights.

We were really pleased to be able to include CoW’s views throughout our consultation response (click here to read the full version).

The consultation closed on 8 March and we will monitor the next steps taken by the UK Government.

Parisa Shirazi is Policy, Projects and Participation Officer at Children in Scotland

Changing our World

Our children and young people's advisory group guides many aspects of our work

Click here for more

Consultation response

We've submitted our response on Human Rights Act Reform: A Modern Bill of Rights

Click here to read

Our project work

A range of our activities have a focus on children's rights, participation and engagement

Click to find out more
Icons in bright colours including a lightbulb, tree, and flower, all arranged in a heart shape on a white background

News: Pioneering community project takes next steps

Posted 8 March 2022, by Jennifer Drummond. Image from Love Letham.

A brand new initiative, which places the voice of young people at its heart, is looking to appoint Commissioners to take forward its work.

The pioneering Love Letham project will support children, young people, families, the wider community and local decision-makers to work together towards a shared vision of what children and young people need to flourish, as well as a plan to deliver it. Now, the project is looking to recruit community members to be part of a new Love Letham Commission.

The project, from Perth and Kinross Council and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, is part of a growing movement of people, businesses and organisations across Scotland trying to do things differently.

Community engagement

The Love Letham team has gathered opinions from hundreds of children, young people and families in the community about what wellbeing means to them and what they need to grow up well in Letham. The Commission will use this information to develop a shared vision, identify priorities and make recommendations to bring Letham’s vision to life.

As well as young people and residents from the community, the Commission will include representatives from Perth and Kinross Council and public bodies.

A Commission of younger children is already active in the area’s primary schools. The Children’s Love Letham Commission will present its work to the rest of the Commission and ensure children’s voices are central to the process.

Long-term approach

The project, supported by local schools, NHS Tayside, national children’s charities and Police Scotland is based on an understanding that if policies are to ensure children and young people can flourish now and in the future, they must be co-designed with children and young people. Love Letham goes beyond short term challenges to think long-term about what is needed for all of Letham’s young people to thrive.

Jo White, Depute Headteacher at Letham Primary School said:

“We are delighted to play such a fundamental role in the Love Letham initiative!

Our children have been able to clearly articulate their thoughts and feelings about what would make Letham the best place to live and grow up and what is needed to promote positive wellbeing for all. Empathy, creativity and curiosity have shone through as our children have engaged in our visioning for a ‘Future Letham’.

Our hopes for the project is that these views will be listened to and acted upon to ensure our children realise their value in shaping the future.”

The Love Letham approach is informed by the Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing report (click here to read) by Dr Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, commissioned by Carnegie UK Trust, Children in Scotland and Cattanach.

It is one of four pilot projects implementing the Wellbeing Economy Alliance’s Policy Design Guide, which helps people devise transformative policies with the full participation of citizens. The other pilots are in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

Click here to visit the Love Letham website to find out more and register interest in joining the Commission

Click here to find out more about the Being Bold report, commissioned by Children in Scotland.


A graphic showing a man wearing a detective's hat and holding a magnifying glass over the 'State of Children's rights in Scotland by Together' report.

News: State of Children’s Rights report published

Posted 2 March 2022, by Nina Joynson

The annual State of Children's Rights report, published by Together, highlights challenges faced by the children's sector in implementing the UNCRC, and offers practical case studies on making children's human rights a reality in Scotland.

Today saw the publication of the 2022 State of Children’s Rights in Scotland report by Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights).

Developed to support public authorities, the third sector, organisations and individuals, Together hopes that the report ‘can serve as a roadmap…. as we strive towards creating a “gold standard” for children’s rights in Scotland’.

The annual review has monitored Scotland’s implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) since 2010, to examine whether enough is being done to make children’s human rights a reality.

Using data from seminar, survey and desk research, along with evidence from members’ policy and practice, State of Children’s Rights identifies common challenges, case studies of good practice and practical resources as we near the introduction of the UNCRC (Implementation) (Scotland) Bill.

Key findings

The report identifies seven key challenge areas faced by organisations and children:

  1. Child participation
    A gap between theory and practice in engaging young people in decision-making processes, with COVID-19 contributing to issues of access.
  2. Communication skills
    Challenges in communicating confidently with children, particularly disabled children and early years children.
  3. Data collection and monitoring
    External and internal issues in carrying out effective research, especially for those who are at an increased risk of having their rights breached.
  4. Raising awareness
    Challenges in expanding popular knowledge of children’s rights and the exclusion of at-risk groups, and a lack of funding opportunities to expand communication.
  5. Access to justice
    Difficulties in implementing proactive, preventative and reactive access to justice measures, in a system that is often inaccessible for children.
  6. Budgeting
    Confusion caused by differing terminology and models with regard to child rights budgeting.
  7. Child Rights Impact Assessments
    Extensive gaps in knowledge and understanding around CRIA, as well as poor access to data needed to complete the process.

The findings are supported by resources and case studies collected by Together, highlighting effective ways to diminish or overcome the challenges faced throughout the sector.

A number of Together’s member organisations contributed to the review. Children in Scotland featured in seven case studies, including examples such as the Participation through the Pandemic project (page 38), and developing a bespoke Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) model (page 173).

Click here to read the report

An icon of black balancing scales

News: Co-created resource offers advice on navigating youth justice system

Posted 28 January, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

A new website, launched by the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ), is intended to help children, young people and families navigate the criminal justice system using the voices and experiences of young people.

‘Just the Right Space’ was co-created with young people who have experience of the justice and care system. It offers information and advice about the criminal justice system and what to expect, children’s rights, stories shared by those with experience of the justice and care systems and where to look for further support.

Reaching a wider audience

The intention is that the site will benefit a wide audience and will be especially of use to those who may not be familiar with the justice system.

Fiona Dyer, Director of CYCJ, said:

“We are excited to share this new website that we hope will help children, young people and those supporting them, better understand the justice system, who can help, and the rights they’re entitled to. CYCJ is committed to working with and not just for children and young in conflict with the law. Whilst this has included adapting our research into child-friendly formats, we are aware that our website is not accessible to those who may not have knowledge of the justice system and associated terminology.

“By working with young people from the very start of this creative process, we hope we have designed a website that will help a wider and younger audience understand what it is we do at CYCJ, why we do it, and access information that can help them with their journey through the journey system.”

Co-creation: ‘I wasn’t just a box-ticking exercise’

Paul was one of the people sharing his experience to help build the site. He said:

“Working on this project has been an interesting experience. Having the opportunity to share my ideas right from the start meant I felt fully involved and included, and reassured me that I wasn’t just being asked my views as part of a box-ticking exercise.

“More projects should be done like this – including young people with experience of the systems in the project from start to finish – as it means the result will be something that really works for young people, and not just what professionals think might work.”

Resources and support information

Along with the inclusion of first-hand experiences, the new website includes a number of resources, including adaptations of CYCJ’s ground-breaking research on children’s rights in the justice system and the UNCRC, as well guides to the Scottish justice system and young people’s rights in custody.

It also signposts to groups people can get involved with to influence change in the justice and care system and organisations offering support.

Click here to visit the Just the Right Space website 

CYCJ is keen to receive any feedback on the website, including anything that is missing or needs to change. 

Open door policy: Supporting the museums sector to engage with a younger audience

The Living Museums project has showcased the potential of the museums sector and its value to young adults. But, to fulfill its legacy, there needs to be systematic change in how the sector engages with this demographic, writes Chris Ross 

We know the value that cultural opportunities have for children and young people. They provide opportunities to learn and have fun. However, we also know that museums struggle to engage young people between the ages of 14 and 21.

The Living Museums project has provided Children in Scotland with an opportunity to explore how museums can improve their engagement with this age group and ensure the potential of what the sector has to offer are fully realised.  

The project brought together three groups of young people in Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross and Stirling with the aim of finding new ways to engage with those in the 14-21 demographic. We supported them to work directly with museum partners to develop a final exhibition on a topic chosen by the young people. 

Across the three project areas, the participating young people worked on topics highlighted as important to them. This included youth unemployment, mental health and the impact of covid-19, as well as contemporary collecting. Their work supported museums to learn from varied groups and share different ideas. Having these opportunities has encouraged the participating young people to take a greater interest in the sector and even consider future job opportunities.  

Recognising opportunities

It is important to begin by recognising that museums have many key assets in place to engage with young people.

The spaces provide unique opportunities for learning. We know how much young people valued the opportunity to engage with and influence the work museums are undertaking. They also had hugely positive experiences of engaging with committed staff who wanted to learn from the young people to ensure that change happens in the sector.

However, both practitioners and young people involved in the project felt that opportunities for young people to influence and shape museums are still not embedded within the sector. As a result, there is a risk of limited change due to a lack of structure to support future work.  

Embedding meaningful engagement and supporting delivery

It is clear that museums need to embed similar co-design approaches to those used in the Living Museums project to increase levels of engagement from young people. This needs to be meaningful, ongoing and young person led, with autonomy to cover the topics they want to focus on. It could involve establishing advisory groups or utilizing other participatory approaches to ensure young people’s experiences and opinions are heard and considered.  

It is also clear that museums need support to achieve this. Our experience within the project suggests that there is not an equal understanding of the importance of co-design across different roles within museums, with co-design projects often the sole responsibility of learning departments. The structure, planning and funding models do not support participation and engagement with decisions about programming made in advance and engagement focused on numbers rather than relationships.  

Living Museums has shown routes for engaging young people and highlighted that co-design approaches can support a sustainable future by engaging new audiences and creating links that will last beyond the life of the project. ​There are already early signs of this within the museums we worked with - one is undertaking an access audit based on the focus on accessibility in the group of young people. Another has used the project as an example of how to do future engagement with young people on the design of their main hall.

However, commitments to changing approaches ​across the sector are needed. Participation of communities needs to be at the heart of future strategic planning in the sector, such as that currently being conducted by Museums and Galleries Scotland.

Participation and engagement training for staff

There needs to be a package of training rolled out to support staff within and across the sector to develop their knowledge and understanding of participation and engagement. Responsibility for participation and engagement also needs to be embedded within senior roles to ensure that it is promoted.  

There is a desire to take this work forward from our project partners and we look forward to seeing where that leads. However, it will also require systemic change to move to a place where museums are truly spaces for and by young people which they feel ownership of. 

Chris Ross is Senior Policy Officer with Children in Scotland and project lead for Living Museums. 

Click here to read the Living Museums project report

Click here to find out more about the project

About the author

Chris Ross is the project lead for the Living Museums project

Click to email Chris

Living Museums Project Final Report

The end of project report highlights successes and how to maintain the momentum

Click here to download

News: Calls from the publication of the final report

Major reforms are needed to make museums more accessible, inclusive and relevant to young people

Click to read the press release

Living Museums

Working in partnership with the museums sector to engage young people

Click here to find out more

Participation and engagement guidelines

Refreshed guidance, putting young people at the heart of engagement work

Click here to read

Evidence bank

A unique resource which directly captures the views of children and young people

Click here to visit the website