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Young people aged 16-25 invited to be anti-poverty Ambassadors

Posted 05.04.23 by Lynn Gilmour

Young people aged between 16 and 25 with an interest in tackling the causes of child poverty in the UK are invited to become Youth Ambassadors for a leading anti-poverty group.

The End Child Poverty (ECP) Coalition works alongside 10 Youth Ambassadors, who have been working hard to both influence the work of the Coalition and develop their own campaign on issues of importance for young people who have experienced poverty.

Their work has included researching, writing and publishing a report about the cost-of-living crisis (click here to read their report)

Now, ECP is looking to recruit at least another five Ambassadors. These young people need to be between 16 and 25 years old, and don’t need to have experience of growing up in a low income family – but young people who do are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should be able to commit to the role for a year, and are compensated for their time and effort.

Being an Ambassador can include: meeting MPs/MSPs, speaking at events, helping to develop a youth focused campaign, writing blogs for the ECP website, and speaking to the media.

The deadline for applications is Monday May 8 2023.

Click here to apply:

End Child Poverty Coalition

The End Child Poverty Coalition is made up of more 80 organisations including child welfare groups, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others. Children in Scotland is a member of the coalition.

Together with a group of Youth Ambassadors the coalition collectively believes that no child growing up in the UK should live in poverty, and together we ask that this and future governments commit to end child poverty.

To do this the coalition engages with young people providing opportunities for them to share their experiences with decision-makers, shares knowledge and develops solutions with coalition members, and campaigns, uniting coalition members and young people to ask central and devolved governments to end child poverty.

"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

Click to find out more

‘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

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Our projects

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

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Participation Guidelines

Our guidelines for participation with young people were updated in 2022

Click here to read

News: Consultation on physical intervention in schools launched

Posted 22 June, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

Views are being sought on new guidance relating to physical intervention and restraint in schools.

The human-rights based guidance has been developed with input from young people, parents, carers, education staff and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

The guidance focuses on preventative support that should be in place to minimise the use of restraint and provides advice and safeguards that must be followed if restraint is used.

It also outlines forms of restraint that should never be used on children and young people.

Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The draft guidance makes it clear that restraint and seclusion should only ever be used as a last resort and when in the best interests of the child or young person.

“The guidance has been developed carefully, over time, with extensive input from more than 30 working group members. I would encourage anyone with an interest in this important area, including children and young people themselves, to give their views by taking part in the consultation.

“In addition to the publication of non-statutory guidance, we will explore options to strengthen the legal framework in this area, including placing the guidance on a statutory basis.”  

The consultation is the result of work by the Scottish Government’s physical intervention group. Established in January 2020, the group was formed following the Scottish Government’s agreement with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to develop new national human rights based guidance to minimise the use of physical intervention and seclusion in schools.

The consultation will run until 25 October.

Click here to visit the physical intervention in schools guidance consultation

A Scouts circular badge of the earth in blue and green, with a dark blue outline. In the middle the Scouts logo is in black, along with an icon of an outstretched hand. The background is two shades of green with a yellow banner through the centre

News: New rights-focused badge for Scottish Scouts

Posted 13 May, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner and Scouts Scotland have launched a new Rights Challenge Badge, to empower youngsters to learn about and understand their rights.

The Rights Challenge Badge has been designed to help young people find out more about their own human rights and their connection to the rights of others. It is also intended to promote adult leaders’ awareness of children’s rights.

In development for the past 10 months, Scouts Scotland has worked alongside young people at every stage. Cubs, Scouts, MSYPs and the Children’s Commissioner’s Young Advisors were all involved in the badge design, layout and overall content.

The badge logo was designed by Christopher, age 10, from East Dunbartonshire. It features a dove soaring over Earth beside the Scouts symbol.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to launch this new Rights Challenge Badge. We’ve created a human rights resource pack with a range of activities to encourage Cubs and Scouts to get creative, to have fun, to debate and discuss different issues around rights, giving them the skills to raise the issues that matter to them with those in power to deliver positive change in their communities. Knowing about their rights will help Scouts claim them and the skills gained with this badge will equip them to act as true human rights defenders.”

Andrew Sharkey, Scouts Chief Commissioner of Scotland added:

“It has been a privilege working with the Children’s Commissioner and his team to create this great resource. Children and young people are at the heart of everything we do in Scouting. Their awareness of their rights and the embedding of them into our core programme is vitally important if Scouts Scotland is to be truly youth shaped whilst developing the next generation of Scotland’s citizens.”

The Rights Challenge Badge is now available to all Cubs and Scouts across Scotland to complete. Activities include creating a shield to highlight what is important to them and what rights they would defend, an interactive exercise to challenge decision-makers in their communities and beyond, and creating a fun, artistic representation of rights.

Click here to find out more about the Rights Challenge Badge

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

Why our race equality pledge should challenge ourselves – and others

30 September 2021

Marking publication of our race equality statement, Amy Woodhouse says that working to become a more inclusive, equalities-focused organisation is not only the right thing to do – it means our working lives can be so much better

This week we’re publicly sharing Children in Scotland’s racial equality statement and our five pledges to strengthen our organisational commitment to racial equality and inclusion.

We’ve been working on this statement internally for quite a while. There is no doubt that the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 set us an important and necessary challenge to look at our organisational culture, structure, practices and approaches with a race equality lens and ask ourselves some tough questions.

We have had Challenging Inequalities as one of our organisational priorities for more than four years. But had we done enough to identify and remove the inequalities that exist within our own organisation with regards to race? The answer was most definitely no.

We’ve been able to learn the value of internal reflection and change from our experiences of working to improve our organisational culture and practice in relation to other equalities. I think the work we did to achieve our LGBT Youth Scotland Charter Silver Award (click here to find out more) was a particular motivator for further equalities work.

Our experience of that has shown us that working to become a more inclusive, equalities-focused organisation is not only right thing to do but also a really good thing for us all – it makes our work and our working lives so much better.

So last July our internal Equalities & Diversity (Ethnic Minorities) Working Group was formed, involving representatives from across the whole organisation. We drew on advice and guidance from CEMVO, who work to build the capacity and sustainability of the ethnic minority voluntary sector. They emphasised a few of things that we should work on from the get-go: building commitment at a strategic level, developing an action plan and setting our baseline measures.

Our statement was developed on the back of an existing Equality, Diversity and Human Rights policy, and in consultation with our staff, Board and our young people's advisory group Changing our World. We identified five pledges which relate to organisational policies and procedures, representation and recruitment, addressing barriers to accessing our services and opportunities, training and development for our team, learning from others and sharing our learning.

The statement and pledges were approved by our Board of Directors earlier this year, building in that strategic commitment. We’ve published it this week as part of our belief in transparency and sharing our learning with others.

Work on each of the pledges is underway. Bearing in mind CEMVO’s advice, we’ve identified what the baseline measures should be for each pledge and have set up systems to collect data that will help us to measure progress. Some things are fairly easy to address – more routine equal opportunities monitoring across the organisation, for example. Some are more complex, focusing on organisational culture, and will take time to embed.

It can feel at times like the pace of change and development is slow. We have an understanding of where we want to get to, but don’t feel like we’re there yet. And that can be frustrating. However, I think we can take heart from an approach that aims to build race equality and inclusion into the bones of the organisation. Progress is vital, but it has to be meaningful and lasting.

If we are to continue to have a focus on challenging inequalities at Children in Scotland, it’s absolutely essential to view this work as much about an internal process as it is a part of our external influencing work. Indeed we can’t legitimately challenge others to improve their practice and decision-making if we don’t do the work to challenge and improve ourselves.

With special thanks to Vicky Wan, our ex-colleague, who did so much to steer this work forward.

Click here to read our race equality statement

Race equality statement

Our statement and pledge sets out what we will do to improve standards and awareness

Click here to read

"Taking a step forwards in standards and awareness"

News: CEO Jude Turbyne comments on the launch of our race equality statement

Click here to read

On diversity and the cycle of racism

Our recent podcast explored the issue through the lens of a project with GTCS and Intercultural Youth Scotland

Click here for more

Race equality statement marks bolder approach to addressing equality and diversity

28 September 2021

Children in Scotland today publishes its race equality statement, following a year’s work examining how our commitments and standards relating to equality and diversity could be strengthened.

The project work was spurred by the murder of George Floyd and issues raised by the Black Lives Matters movement in 2020.

While focusing particularly on what we can do to improve representation and fairness for ethnic minorities, the work is embedded in our broader beliefs about the importance of realising equality for children, young people and families in Scotland.

The statement makes clear our commitment to creating a culture in which equality, diversity and human rights are actively promoted, and rearticulates that we have zero tolerance of discrimination of any kind.

As part of this work we are also publishing a pledge of actions to strengthen our specific commitment to racial equality and inclusion.

Measures will be introduced internally to track how we are performing against equality and diversity baselines.

These will focus on areas including ethnic minority representation in our staff group and board; suitable training made available for staff; and more diversity in our choice of images and the contributors we commission for our communications work.

Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Judith Turbyne said:

“Publication of our race equality statement and pledge today is an important step in building awareness and taking a much more proactive approach to addressing equality and diversity issues at Children in Scotland.

“In addition to what is currently required by legislation, we are dedicated to going further by taking positive measures to promote equality, diversity and human rights.

“I want to emphasise that this is ongoing work for us and that we take it very seriously. It is not a ‘one-off’ or a token gesture.

“We’re also aware of the need to be honest about our progress and our weaknesses in this vital area.

“We want to develop into a more diverse organisation and to do this we need to take forward our action plan and learn from the experiences and advice of experts partners in order to change.

“Recent project work with Intercultural Youth Scotland (click here to visit), and guidance from CEMVO (click here to visit) about the development of our statement, has been enlightening and encouraging, whilst demonstrating how much more we need to do.

“As the representative organisation for the children’s sector we will be seeking a wider conversation with our members about how we can come together to improve equality and diversity in a way that benefits all children in Scotland.”

We are sharing our race equality statement and summary of our equality and diversity work as part of National Inclusion Week.

Click here to read our race equality statement

Click here for information on National Inclusion Week

Race equality statement

Our statement and pledge sets out what we will do to improve standards and awareness

Click here to read

Our strategic aims

We're committed to challenging inequality and championing participation

Click here for more

On diversity and the cycle of racism

Our recent podcast explored the issue through the lens of a project with GTCS and Intercultural Youth Scotland

Click here for more

National Inclusion Week

Bringing organisations together to celebrate, share and inspire inclusion practices

Click here for more

Encouraging moves on participation, and a promise to hold parliament to account

11 May 2021

How do the political parties’ pledges compare to our own Manifesto calls? Following the Scottish election, our Policy, Projects & Participation Officer Parisa Shirazi reflects on likely areas of agreement during the next parliament – and examples of where we’ll be pushing for faster change to improve children’s lives.

It’s clear from our work that children all over Scotland have views on important issues and suggestions on what they think should be better. These range from the Inclusion Ambassadors’ perspectives on how additional support for learning in schools could be improved, to our young people’s advisory group Changing our World’s prioritising of the environment as a key issue for them, to the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe’s recommendations to the Scottish and UK Governments regarding Brexit.

We believe that any government and parliament must listen to the views of its children and young people to enact policies to improve their lives. That was the starting point for the creation of our 2021-26 Manifesto, which presents 33 asks of the next Scottish Parliament.

Click here for more information about our 2021-26 Manifesto

Following last Thursday’s election, the SNP will again form a government. It’s therefore useful to review their manifesto promises for children, young people and their families, identify policies that progress children’s rights – and explore areas where their pledges could be bolder.

Rights and democracy: positive steps on Citizens’ Assemblies

Young people should be able to participate in democracy and have their rights respected. One of our calls in our Manifesto was that children and young people would have a say in key government decision-making processes, including Citizens’ Assemblies, building on the success of enfranchising 16- and 17-year-olds. Therefore, we welcome the SNP’s commitment to establishing an assembly for children and young people under 16.

Scottish Labour had committed to ensuring young people are represented in national and local bodies through a statutory right to consultation, and we hope that this can also be considered. We are encouraged that the SNP supports incorporating international human rights, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention of the Elimination for Racial Discrimination, and the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination against Women. We advocated for all of these treaties in our Manifesto because incorporating them is essential for embedding the rights of children and young people into law. The SNP and the Liberal Democrats have also committed to incorporating the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into law, which could lead to positive changes in the areas of social security, livings standards, health and education.

Reconsidering the minimum age of criminal responsibility

Since 2019, the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland has been 12 (raised from the age of eight). Although this raise was welcomed, we do not believe it went far enough. If Scotland wants to continue to be a world leader on children’s rights, we believe they should readdress how children displaying harmful behaviours are treated. Scotland must learn from other nations that have higher minimum ages of criminal responsibility and take childhood development into account. In light of this, our Manifesto calls on the next parliament to raise the age to 16. The Liberal Democrats committed to bringing this into line with UN recommendations and Scottish Labour pledged to reviewing it. Let’s hope the parties will work together on this issue.

Security for refugees and asylum seekers

Scotland should be a country that welcomes people all over the world and appreciates the diversity of its society. Refugees must be provided with a safe and secure environment. We acknowledge that many areas that affect refugees and those seeking asylum are reserved to Westminster. But our Manifesto calls on the parliament to work with the UK Government to develop policies and practices that will benefit all those seeking asylum. We are encouraged to note that four out of the five main political parties (SNP, Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats) have made a range of commitments to supporting this group.

Therefore, we look forward to the SNP acting on their pledge to improve existing support for families to have access to safe accommodation. And we hope that they will work constructively with other parties to bring about other types of support, such as the development of national standards on refugee settlement, including the accommodation and care of unaccompanied children (a policy proposed by Scottish Labour).

Education: PSE reform, making arts accessible and commitments on diversity

If you followed our pre-election social media campaign, you would have seen that education is a key issue for Scotland’s young people. Changing our World created an array of materials directed at decision-makers advocating for the changes they would like to see in Personal and Social Education (PSE). PSE was not mentioned in the SNP’s manifesto and although we are pleased to note their pledge to include a new programme of anti-racism education in schools which will rely on local authority uptake, we hope that the SNP will work constructively with their Green colleagues to improve the PSE curriculum in schools.

We were pleased to note that various parties appreciated the importance of arts and music in schools and increasing the accessibility of this for pupils through measure such as abolishing fees for music and arts education. But we believe that this can be bolder and a hobby premium should be introduced. This policy would grant all children and young people in Scotland free access to a hobby or activity of their choice within or around the school day. Furthermore, none of the parties have committed to making wellbeing a central focus of the curriculum or increasing the diversity of the education workforce. We will continue our work and campaigning in these areas.

Building on a base of participation

This election was noteworthy for having the highest turnout of voters in a Scottish election, the galvanisation of young voters and the fact it was the first in which those with refugee status and foreign nationals could vote. In this blog I’ve identified welcome policy areas in the SNP’s Manifesto alongside notable gaps and some measures that could be pushed further. We at Children in Scotland will continue to hold parliament and the Scottish Government to account over the next five years.

About the author

Parisa is Policy, Projects & Participation Officer and joined us in January 2021

Click to find out more

2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto features 33 calls across 10 themes, from learning to democracy

Click here to read it

"Making political ideas accessible"

A Children and Young People’s Version of our Manifesto for 2021-26 is also available

Click here to find out more

"Listen to young people on education"

Our young advisory group produced campaign materials linked to the Manifesto

Click here to find out more

"Let pupils pursue their passions"

Amy Woodhouse wrote a blog for TES about the importance of a 'hobby premium'

Click here to read more

"It's our future too"

Our Panel on Europe partnership project heard young people's views on Scotland post-Brexit

Click here to find out more

Funding, rights, travel and trade top concerns for young people in Scotland’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe

25 November 2020

A group of children and young people have issued a series of calls about Scotland and the UK’s future relationship with Europe as part of a landmark participation project.

The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe today publishes its report Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too, which gathers evidence and recommendations from a year of work looking at what impact leaving the EU might mean for them.

The key calls made by the Panel, which is supported by Children in Scotland and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) include:

EU Funding

  • Youth services should retain the same level of funding as they currently do from the EU through replacement support
  • Current spending levels on health and science research must continue or increase post-Brexit, with funding assured for research and infrastructure.


  • Children’s rights to education and health, as set out in the UNCRC, must be met and strengthened after the UK leaves the EU. Information should be provided to support children and young people to learn about politics and big decisions like Brexit so they can form their own opinions, influence decisions and have their voices heard.

Opportunities to Work, Study and Travel

  • Accessible, child-friendly information is urgently required about changes in this area from 1 January 2021.

Economy, trade and jobs

  • The minimum wage should be increased to the same level for all, including 16-24 year-olds
  • High standards need to be maintained in trade, particularly in relation to quality of imported food.

The Panel, comprising 19 members aged 8-19, all of whom were too young to vote in the EU referendum, is funded by Scottish Government EU Directorate, and is making its recommendations to the Scottish Constitution and External Affairs Secretary, Michael Russell MSP.

Commenting on her experience as a member of the Panel, Beccie said:

“The Panel has allowed me to meet with key decision-makers and take young people’s views right to the top.”

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“Young people’s views have been given little attention through the Brexit process, despite it being obvious that it is our next generation who will be most affected by the post-Brexit settlement.

“The recommendations in this report demonstrate the wisdom and expertise young people can bring to the issue of Brexit and the coming change in our relationship with Europe. We’re grateful to all the Panel members for their participation, commitment, and the fantastic quality of their insight.”

Juliet Harris, director of Together, said:

“Children and young people have strong opinions about the kind of Scotland they want to grow up in, and yet they often struggle to get their views heard.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to have their views taken into account in all decisions that affect them.  We look forward to Scottish Government and all those involved in the Brexit negotiations listening to and acting upon the Panel’s calls.”

Responding to the report’s publication, Constitution and External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell said:

“I would like to thank the members of the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe for their dedicated work - much of it undertaken in the very difficult circumstances of the Covid pandemic - to investigate, and articulate, the views of young people from all over Scotland on the challenges posed by Brexit.

“They have identified the issues of rights, funding, the ability to travel, study and work overseas, the economy and jobs as areas where young people have particular concerns.

“As the report correctly concludes, we are all going to be living with the consequences of Brexit for years to come.

“So the Scottish Government will study the report carefully, and we will seek further opportunities to listen to the views of young people on these critically important questions.”

The report is the culmination of a year’s work by the Panel, including correspondence and meetings with key decision-makers across civil society, development of resources, and a social media campaign.

The first phase of the Panel’s work took place from July to December 2018.

Click here to download Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too

The Panel’s first report, Listen to Us, was published in February 2019. Click here to read the report.

Media contact:
Chris Small,

Young Brexit Voices: It's Our Future Too

The Panel's new report features key calls on our future relationship with Europe

Click here to read the report

Voices and views of Panel members

The Panel has produced a short film about their work and recommendations

Click to watch the film

About the Panel's aims and activities

Young people's views on EU withdrawal are being amplified through the Panel's work

Click to find out more

"Listen to Us"

The Panel's phase one project report, Listen To Us, was published in February 2019

Click to read the report

The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights

Our project partners Together work to improve understanding of the UNCRC

Click to find out more

Our project work

The Panel on Europe is just one of our participation projects

Click to find out more