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“We must not lose sight of our collective goal”

Marking her first anniversary as our Chief Executive, in the first of a two-part blog Jude Turbyne takes stock of how poverty is impacting on families now – and why working in the children’s sector gives her hope 

I have now been with Children in Scotland for just over a year. It has been a fulfilling time, during which my admiration for my colleagues within the organisation and across the children’s sector has been strengthened. So, I feel I should be celebrating but, rather, I find myself a bit gloomy.

I came into post during the pandemic. At the start of 2022, it felt as if we might be on a more positive journey away from Covid, and that we could start to build actively on the learning from the previous two years. There was a sense of hope that we could step out of crisis mode and settle into a new positive rhythm. However, we have moved from that phase into one where the external environment is increasingly hostile.

Crisis impacts

There have been a lot of insightful pieces written over the past few months highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on families that are already vulnerable and illustrating how many other children, young people and families are sliding inexorably towards poverty.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland, for instance, estimates that one in 10 people in Scotland currently have nothing left after covering the essentials. A Save the Children briefing clearly illustrates the way in which stagnating incomes coupled with the massive hike in costs is likely to have a serious impact on families.

The Living Without a Lifeline report just published by One Parent Families Scotland shows the impact the crisis was already having on single parent families and the cloud of deep anxiety that many families are currently living under. The Scottish Government estimates that one million households across Scotland will be living in fuel poverty.

An unacceptable choice facing families

Action is needed. We had awaited with interest the Westminster emergency fiscal event last week. However, as outlined in the joint statement by the Children’s Commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this did not result in the targeted action required to support the children, young people and their families who are facing this winter with inadequate resources and increasing anxieties.

Rather it focused its policies on those who already have more than enough, believing that somehow their wealth would magically trickle down to families and young people living in vulnerable situations. It is simply not acceptable that there will be families this winter that are having to make a choice between food and heat.

We will push for better responses to the immediate crisis, but we must never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is creating a more resilient Scotland, where our children, young people and families are lifted out of poverty and are not in danger of slipping back.

Welcoming the Child Payment increase

That is why the announcement of the raising of the Child Payment to £25 in November is particularly welcome: the evidence already shows that this payment has the potential to impact on child poverty rates. We need more measures like this that will support systemic change.

Last week we held a timely Children Sector Strategic and Policy Forum where leaders across the sector took stock of the situation. It is important that we invest in the right things. We know that money is tight in all sectors and so we need to prioritise those actions that will have the biggest, sustainable impact.

We are currently processing all the different announcements that have come out from Government in Scotland and Westminster, digging into the complexities of the situation now, and seeking to develop clear policy approaches that can have a real and sustainable impact for Scotland’s families. We will continue to reflect and write about our approach as we develop these collective responses.

Pushing for change

I started saying that I felt gloomy, and sometimes it is hard not to. But the children’s sector in Scotland is full of wonderful organisations and individuals that are committed to making Scotland a better place for our children and young people.

Putting our collective effort into pushing for and making the necessary changes can make a difference. And, that does, indeed, give me hope.


About the author

Our CEO Jude Turbyne has worked for a number of charities and in the development sector

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2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto includes calls on challenging and reducing child poverty, supported by expert partner organisations

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The Forum takes an evidence-based approach to improving children’s lives at national level

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A man in a suit stands on a stage accepting an award

News: S.M.I.L.E Counselling named Charity of the Year

Posted 17 June, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond. Photo: Declan Harrigan, CEO of S.M.I.L.E Counselling at the Scottish Charity Awards 2022. 

The West Lothian-based counselling service scooped the prestigious prize at the Scottish Charity Awards 2022.

The annual event, run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), celebrates the very best of the Scottish charitable sector.

Eight categories recognise campaigning, pioneering projects, climate conscious activity and digital success as well as employees, volunteers and trustees.  Each of these categories are decided by a judging panel with a ninth category, the People’s Choice Award, voted for by the public.

S.M.I.L.E Counselling, which provides free counselling to 11-24 year olds took home the top-billed prize of Charity of the Year.

Established in 2015 the organisation has helped more than 1,000 individuals and a further 2,500 in a group setting, delivering more than 7,000 counselling hours.

Commenting on the win, Declan Harrigan, Founder and CEO said:

“We were shocked and overwhelmed to win Scottish Charity of the Year 2022. We graciously accept the award not only on behalf of our staff, volunteers, and trustees but on behalf of all our clients, students and participants who all encompass S.M.I.L.E services.

"This award, to us, indicates a recognition of the truly demanding but rewarding work we are involved in. Recognising our amazing team and their willingness to go that extra mile to do what is needed for their clients.

"Our vision has always been to replicate what we have done in West Lothian over the last seven years in other counties and this will be part of our future plans. No child should be left behind or without support, if this award shines a brighter light on the need for additional services for mental health in children services, then this can only be positive."

Other charities recognised on the night include Leuchie House, Coatbridge Citizens Advice Bureau, Feldyroo, Scottish Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol, Sustainable Thinking Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and Fare Scotland and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland who won the People’s Choice Award.

Click here for a full list of winners


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

A photo of Christmas gifts wrapped up and surrounded by tinsel

News: Christmas gifting charity struggling to meet demand

Posted 1 December, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

A Fife charity is calling for help to meet the needs of families this Christmas.

The Gift of Christmas Appeal Fife works to ensure every child has a gift to open on Christmas Day. However, the charity has taken to social media to urge more support, posting pictures of their warehouse, usually full of toys for vulnerable families, still nearly empty.

With only 12 days remaining to accept donations, a spokesperson for the Appeal told Children in Scotland:

“We have received some fabulous donations so far and the public are as usual very generous.

“But this year, we have more applications than ever, around 1,300, and donations have been slower than usual so far. We are really hoping this will pick up before all drop off points soon close.”

Working with volunteers, Trustees and Lloyds banking group, the gifts bought or donated to the appeal go to children and young people aged 0-18 across Fife who otherwise may have nothing to open on Christmas morning.

Children and young people are referred to the service by professionals who have identified them and their families as being in need of assistance at Christmas. Children who receive gifts from the Appeal are likely to be experiencing poverty and deprivation and some may be dealing with other issues such as domestic abuse, neglect, and mental health issues.

On average the charity provides gift bags to 1,000 children and young people across the Kingdom each year.

Gifts for families can be purchased via the Gift of Christmas Appeal Fife Amazon Wish Lists, or donated via one of 60 drop-off points across Fife.

All donations must be made by 12 December, 2021.

Click here to find out more about the Appeal and information on how to donate

Logo for 'wee seeds' - a green oval icon with eyes and smile, with blue text that says 'wee seeds' at the bottom

News: Early years mindfulness venture receives financial boost

Posted 9 November 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

An Edinburgh-based early years mindfulness enterprise has been chosen to receive support from Big Issue Invest’s Power Up Scotland scheme.

Along with seven other Scottish ventures, Wee Seeds will receive backing through investment, business support and assistance with partnership-building for long-term success.

Wee Seeds exists to bring mediation and mindfulness to the early years and promote positive mental health from a young age, delivering tools to help parents and professionals plant the seeds of positive mental wellbeing in the early years.

Power Up Scotland is funded by partners abdrn, University of Edinburgh, Experian, Places for People and the Scottish Government. Legal support is provided by Brodies LLP.

Successful applicants receive mentoring and business development support, with an opportunity to pitch for long-term funding to create a sustainable future.

Speaking about the financial award, Wee Seeds founder Christina Cran said:

“We’ve laid the groundwork and so we’re delighted to have the support of Power Up Scotland to help us plant solid roots for the future to deliver mindfulness for all, especially post-Covid when we know many of our young people faced challenges that took a toll on their mental health.”

Big Issue Invest CEO Danyal Sattar said:

“It is challenging as a social venture to secure early-stage funding. We are therefore so pleased, working with our brilliant partners in Scotland, to be able to support these organisations with the investment and business development expertise that they need in order to make an even greater difference.

“We are incredibly excited about working with this year’s Power Up Scotland applicants.”

Wee Seeds joins Ayrshire Women’s Hub, Bikes for Refugees, Brave Strong Beautiful, Coffee+Clay, Common Ground Against Homelessness, Lochend Football Academy and MyPickle as this year's recipients.

The social venture recently launched a new website and course, following successful trials with parents and nursery staff.

It has also launched trials of its social impact programme to ensure mindfulness for all, by working with other organisations to provide resources to families who need them.

Click here to find out more about Wee Seeds

Click here to find out more about the Power Up Scotland scheme

Wee Seeds featured in Issue 201 of Children in Scotland magazine, highlighting how their mindfulness toolkit could improve focus, sleep and bring calm. Click here to download

Boy with blond hair playing in the snow with his arms outstretched
Image: Catherine Bromley

News: Charity launches appeal to support families this winter

Posted 3 November, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

Fife Gingerbread has launched its annual ‘Heat & Eat’ appeal, to help families across the Kingdom keep fed and warm this winter

The charity, which supports and empowers lone parents across Fife, will use the money raised to ensure that vulnerable families are supported during the cold winter months, and throughout the year. This includes providing crisis support when needed, facilitating group sessions, feeding families, creating fun learning opportunities and providing support with travel costs. All of the money raised will be used to directly benefit the families accessing support.

The annual appeal will also specifically help to provide a Festive Package, which can include toys, food or fuel, and ensure those in low income households have a magical Christmas.

Last year, Fife Gingerbread supported 114 families (including 212 children and young people) to have a safe and warm Christmas. They shared some of the donations received with other local organisations including Fife Women’s Aid, Methilhill Children Community Initiative and Fife Migrants Forum.

Click here to find out more about Fife Gingerbread

Proportion of Children in Scotland staff to be furloughed for three-week period

5 June 2020

Children in Scotland has announced today that it will be furloughing some of its staff for a three-week period during June.

The charity’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“Our Leadership Team and Board recently came to the difficult decision to furlough a number of staff across the organisation.

“This will commence from the end of the working day on Tuesday 9 June, with furloughed staff returning on Wednesday 1 July.

“The organisation will remain active during this period with non-furloughed staff and our services continuing as normal.

“This decision was not reached easily and has been a financially-driven one, ensuring that we are able to make use of the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme through to 31 October 2020 if needed.

“Staff being furloughed include those working in policy, projects and participation; events delivery; communications and membership engagement; and central services.

“Other staff, including myself, our Head of Inclusion Sally Cavers and those leading on key service areas, will be continuing over the three-week period.

“We are confident that furloughing will not impact on delivery of our services. Further information on our services, learning programme and projects follows below.

“I want to stress that we have done this as a protective measure to strengthen the prospects and sustainability of Children in Scotland in the current challenging climate. Our Board, Leadership Team and staff are in agreement that this is the right course of action.

“We look forward to working with you through June, and to the full breadth of our activities resuming from the 1 July.”


Information on services

Enquire and Reach

The Enquire helpline is open for enquiries about additional support for learning in Scottish schools.

Enquire has a coronavirus section (click to read) on their website which provides a wide range of information.

The Reach website is also available to provide children and young people with advice and information, and has a specific coronavirus page (click to read).

My Rights, My Say

Face-to-face meetings aren’t happening right now but there is still some help available for children aged 12-15 with additional support needs to speak up about the support they need with their education.

A coronavirus service update page (click to read) is available on the website outlining what the partners are able to offer.

Resolve: ASL Mediation

Resolve Mediation Service will be continuing to offer our service online and by telephone. Please contact us at or call 07955 788967 for individual referrals or any other queries

Parenting across Scotland

The team is continuing to provide information and advice to parents and carers via their website and have developed a specific coronavirus page. Click here to visit the website.

National Parent Forum of Scotland

The team continues to represent parents and offer support. Click here to visit their website for information and support for parents by parents. You can also contact the team on

Early Learning and Childcare Inclusion Fund

The team continues to provide information and advice. Please email the team:

The next planned funding round of the ELC Inclusion Fund has been delayed until further notice.  We will provide an update as soon as dates have been agreed. For information on the fund, click here.


Project work

Our projects, CHANGE, and the Supporting the Third Sector Project, continue as normal.

Please note: communications in support of some of services and project work, including My Rights, My Say, CHANGE and the Supporting the Third Sector, will be unavailable or substantially reduced between 10 and 30 June.


Find out more about Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning

Click to visit the website

Resolve:ASL Mediation

Find out more about Resolve: Additional Support for Learning independent mediation service

Find out more


Helping you understand children’s rights to be involved in decisions in education

Click to visit the website

My Rights, My Say

My Rights, My Say supports children with ASN aged 12-15 to use their rights to support with their learning

Click to visit the website

ELC Inclusion Fund

We manage the Early Learning and Childcare Inclusion Fund

Click to find out more

Online learning

We're offering a series of webinars to meet all your CPD needs this summer

Click to browse the webinars

National Parent Forum of Scotland

The Forum works to ensure that parents play a full and equal role in education

Click to visit the website

Supporting the Third Sector Project

We're supporting organisations to become equal partners in Child and Family Services

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Why our third sector deserves first class support

26 May 2020

In advance of next week's launch of our new Supporting the Third Sector Project, Vicky Wan explains why we want to support organisations to become equal partners in Children and Family Services – and be ready to respond to any future crisis

In her recent blog (click to read), our Head of External Affairs Jacqueline Cassidy reflected on the vital role of the third sector during the health pandemic and its phenomenal response to the challenges of COVID-19. This was later evidenced in the Scottish Government’s COVID-19: Supporting vulnerable children and young people – data intelligence report (click to read). The large range of examples in the report clearly demonstrate the third sector’s ability to sustain its local and national services by changing the model of delivery within a short space of time.

In her 8 April open letter to third sector organisations , Iona Colvin, the Interim Director for Children and Families of the Scottish Government, emphasised the critical role the third sector has in supporting the needs of children, young people and their families (click to read). But she also recognised that the third sector has an enormous amount of knowledge and intelligence about the communities it serves.

“Third sector organisations are uniquely well placed to help us to understand the nature of the challenges that children, young people and families are facing in their homes and communities at this time" - Iona Colvin, Scottish Government Interim Director of Children and Families

One of the reasons why third sector organisations are able to respond to the emergency rather efficiently is largely because of their long-established relationships with the local communities and their understanding of the challenges families continue to face.

Third sector organisations use their professional knowledge to swiftly adjust their own services. They know what the families need and more importantly what will work. Not only that, they share their skills and expertise with partners in the statutory and in the third sector, so together they are able to offer support in a whole-family holistic approach.

A support worker of a charity told us:

“I’ve been supporting this disabled young person for a while. The family was coping well before the outbreak. Since the lockdown, mum became very anxious that her disabled son would be infected with COVID-19 if he fell ill and had to go to the hospital. Dad is a key worker. Her younger son is now home-schooling but she doesn’t have time to help with his learning because she has to care for her older son nearly 24/7. She feels very guilty and stressed.

Through the local children’s services forum, I found out about a befriending service. Mum is now being supported on the phone every day. I also found out about a peer learning group organised by another charity. The younger son is now learning with other children of similar age.”

The benefits of collaborative working are apparent. However, an effective collaboration takes time to develop. Organisations need to have good awareness of services available in the area, a reasonable level of trust in the quality of each other’s work, and referral protocols without unnecessary bureaucracy.

In Scotland, we already have structures in place to support partnership working for many years.

The local children’s services networks, which are usually facilitated by the local Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs), bring organisations together so they can support their peers, exchange good practice, share resources, develop collaborative working arrangements and help shape local services.

Thanks to this established relationship before the outbreak of COVID-19, we can quickly and efficiently mobilise the third sector to deliver and maintain support to children as part of multi-agency plans during the pandemic. Also due to the communication channels already established via the networks, local organisations can continue to feed their experiences and concerns to inform strategic planning at national level, while they concentrate on meeting the needs of families at this difficult time.

Taking the learning from this, while it is important to continue to invest in the frontline service delivery to children and families, we should not undermine the importance of the structures that support and strengthen the third sector. If we do not resource and fund the local networks sufficiently now, are we confident that we will be able to respond as well, if not better, in any future emergency situation?

Our role

Children in Scotland is committed to supporting the Third Sector Interfaces and third sector organisations to become equal partners in Children and Family Services. This includes increasing local third sector engagement and strengthening local support structures through our new Supporting the Third Sector Project.

Supporting the Third Sector

Vicky Wan is Project Manager and part of our PPP team

Click to read about us

Strengthening the sector: learning online

We're running a series of webinars covering all your CPD needs

Click to browse training

Confronting the crisis

Jacqueline Cassidy asks if the sector is punching above its weight during the pandemic

Click to read the blog

Latest podcast

Discussing the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and planning the best way forward

Click to listen

Responding to the need for connection

Karin McKenny on how we've adapted our training to support the workforce

Click to read Karin's blog

Our services

From ASL advice to ELC inclusion funding, find out about what we offer

Click to explore