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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

‘Lessons for a new social settlement’ – publication of reports mark end of innovative five-year food project

9 June 2020

Children in Scotland has marked the completion of its long-running Food, Families, Futures (FFF) project with the publication of two reports evidencing the success and impact of the partnership.

FFF was developed by the charity in 2015 to address a major  social issue: food insecurity and its links with wellbeing and education.

Working with families, communities and businesses, FFF supported after-school and holiday provision projects across Scotland, including in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Perth and Kinross, East Lothian, Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire.

Holiday clubs focused on the value of fun activities, eating together and community strength and since 2016, FFF has helped to drive the issues of food insecurity – and how local and national governments should respond ­– up the political agenda.

The reports are intended to provide legacy learning and evidence about FFF, giving an honest view of its successes and challenges, and practical insights for any community or organisation wanting to take forward similar work in future.

Relationships and renewal

Freelance writer and consultant Shelagh Young has produced Nourish to flourish - food, fun and family learning, an independent review and analysis of the project.

Click here to read the report

In the report, Shelagh praises FFF partners for harnessing “local energy and support… to kickstart kindness” and argues that their work “shows how to build stronger relationships and achieve valuable learning through making and sharing tasty, nutritious meals together”.

FFF is also highly relevant in the context of our ambitions for renewal following the pandemic. “Sustaining an exciting and effective family and community-led way of working so that it becomes the new social settlement will become one of Scotland’s greatest challenges,” Shelagh says.

The second report, aimed at strategic leadership, is Food, Families, Futures: Making positive change happen alongside families is by Children in Scotland’s Policy Manager (Participation & Engagement), Elaine Kerridge.

Click here to read the report

As well as highlighting the practice-based knowledge built up over four years working on the project, Elaine emphasizes core principles that have been vital to FFF, particularly participation. inclusion and a non-stigmatising, relationship-based approach to poverty.

“Within communities, establishing a trusting relationship is the essential starting point,” Elaine says. “As one Strategic Lead told us: ‘It needs to come from the families.’”

Carrying forward core principles

Children in Scotland CEO Jackie Brock said:

“These two completion reports held contribute to a powerful legacy of learning from the FFF project which we hope others will be able to take forward. We believe that the process of post-virus renewal for schools, communities and families can be informed by some the core principles of FFF which Shelagh and Elaine capture so well in their reports.

“Children in Scotland’s own learning, from policy development to communications, has been hugely strengthened by our experience of leading FFF, and we will be using that knowledge in our ongoing influencing work.

“The early response to the pandemic sees a growing consensus on why direct payments are the answer to families struggling with food insecurity, and how schools and community buildings can be used in a more imaginative, flexible and accessible way.

“There is also important learning about the false division between school and holidays, and how this could be broken down to build relationships and transform schools into through-the-year community assets.

“Most of all, there is learning for all of us about how any kind of project that seeks to address inequality or social justice at community level must be done with families not to them.

“I’d like to thank all our partners who’ve supported this project over the past five years – businesses, third sector groups, funders, local authorities, and most importantly the children and families who have been at the heart of FFF.”

Challenging food insecurity

Our five-year food partnership programme addressed a major societal issue

Click to find out more

Food, fun and family learning

Shelagh Young's independent review of FFF looks at the project's impact and successes

Click to download

Report author Shelagh Young

Shelagh is a freelance writer and consultant

Click to visit her website

Positive change alongside families

Elaine Kerridge's report is aimed at strategic leads and captures key FFF learning

Click to download the report

Report author Elaine Kerridge

Our Policy Manager Elaine has also written a blog about her learning from the project

Click to read Elaine's blog

2017 summer clubs

Children and families tell us what they like about the FFF experience in this short film

Click to watch the film