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Photo of metal food containers holding salad leaves, sweetcorn and tomatoes, with utensils in the dishes.

News: Research reveals young people's support for extending free school meals and reducing stigma

Posted 7 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

New Scotland-wide research shows that 76% of young people would eat more lunches at school if free provision was extended to all pupils.

The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) has published findings from a nationwide survey in the Young People's Right to Food report.

In late 2022, SYP asked young people about their access to food and improvements they think could be made to uphold their right to food.

The project received 846 online responses from people aged 12-26, from 26 local authorities in Scotland.

The results highlight experiences around access to food at home and in school, and stigma associated with asking for help.

Encouraging school lunches

86% of young people thought that extending free school meals was crucial to upholding their right to food, and 76% said that they would be more likely to eat lunch at school if free meals were provided.

Additionally, 70% said that a better eating environment and/or involving young people in decision-making about school meals would make them more likely to eat lunch at school.

Stigma around asking for help 

Nearly half of respondents (47%) believe that there is a stigma associated with needing support to access food.

Young people came up with a number of suggestions on how this stigma could be reduced, such as using more inclusive, non-targeted language and challenging wider structural barriers.

Ensuring that people know where they can get help to access food was also suggested, an issue highlighted by the report's finding that only 40% were aware of the support available in their community.

Normalising conversations about food struggles was also highlighted as important. On the lack of conversations around food insecurity, one young person commented:

"If you're well-off, which I am (relative to where I live anyways), when I think about food banks, I think about helping out, volunteering. I don't think about what it's like to actually be someone requiring that help, or someone that needs to think about asking for it because they're struggling."

The report makes five recommendations on how to improve and uphold young people’s access and right to food in Scotland, as voiced by young people:

  1. Free school meal provision should be extended to all secondary school pupils
  2. Young people should be meaningfully involved in decision-making about the content and quality of school meals and in making improvements to the eating environment
  3. Greater efforts must be made to eliminate the stigma associated with asking for help to access food
  4. Local government must raise awareness among young people about local programmes that support food access
  5. Scottish Government must bring the UNCRC Incorporation Bill back to Parliament.

Click here to read more about SYP's Right to Food report

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

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets young people from at a special edition of Scotland tonight.
For details see press release
Pic Peter Devlin

News: Young people present key issues to Scottish Cabinet

Posted 1 March 2022, by Jennifer Drummond. Image from Children in Scotland event, September 2018.

Young people across Scotland met today with the First Minister and her Cabinet in the sixth annual Cabinet Meeting with Children and Young People (Cabinet Takeover).

The meeting, which took place online, represents a key opportunity for young people to communicate the views of their generations to some of the most senior politicians in Scotland.

At the Cabinet Takeover, key decision-makers from across areas of the Scottish Government listened to speeches delivered by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) and Members of the Children’s Parliament (MCP).

With a strong focus on children’s rights the meeting was particularly timely, taking place the day after it was revealed Deputy First Minister John Swinney has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland vowing to reintroduce a Bill to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law.

Issues of importance

Issues raised covered a range of topics including rights, education, climate emergency, health and wellbeing and more. Amongst the speeches made today:

  • Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) Chair, Josh Kennedy, spoke about the need to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law
  • MSYP Wiktoria Orlicka called for more protection of LGBT rights
  • SYP Trustee Sophie Reid spoke about female safety, calling for more action and improvements to physical spaces
  • Cameron Garret, Convenor of the SYP Education Committee, spoke about the need for a better education system for young people, including meaningful participation and involvement in decisions about their educational future and adopting a rights-based approach as standard
  • SYP Trustee Mollie McGoran focused on the climate emergency, highlighting the enthusiasm and passion of her generation.

Passionate presentations from representatives of the Children’s Parliament focused on gender equality in education, children’s mental health and wellbeing and adults realising children’s rights. 

Next steps

Both the children and young people present, and those they represent, will be looking for some activity from the First Minister and the Scottish Government in the coming months in direct response to the meeting and the issues raised today.

Cathy McCulloch, Co-Director of the Children’s Parliament said:

“[Our MCPs] are keen to see some real action taken in response to their Calls to Action.

“They feel very strongly about the issues they are raising and we fully support these as represent many issues children have raised through Children’s Parliament programmes across Scotland.”

Josh Kennedy, Scottish Youth Parliament Chair added:

“Today's meeting is an opportunity for Ministers to hear about these topics, and more, directly from children and young people. But it will only matter if we see action to address the issues raised and I'm looking forward to seeing what's done to ensure young people's views are taken into account in the year ahead."

For more information from today search click here to search #CabinetTakeover on Twitter.


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News: MSPs urged to withhold consent for Nationalities and Borders Bill

Posted 22 February, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

Organisations from across the third sector are urging Scotland to vote down the UK Nationalities and Borders Bill on the grounds that it attacks the rights of refugees, including children.

The open letter, published today and signed by organisations including Children in Scotland, calls the Nationalities and Borders Bill “an anti-survivor law, an anti-refugee law and an anti-safety law” which is harmful to survivors of sexual violence, gender-based violence and those who flee persecution.

Signed by more than 60 organisations, it highlights the lack of protection for those who are displaced, the persecuted and refugees who end up in Britain, claiming the Bill “endangers all that movements and governments have achieved for refugees and survivors of trafficking and exploitation”.

It also:

  • warns of the risk to life created by removing the UK from the Refugee Convention, and
  • attacks the government’s commitment to responding to violence against women and girls when wilfully omitting safe routes for any person, including women and children, fleeing gender-based violence.

Call to action

Signatories, including Just Right Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council, Rape Crisis Scotland, Shakti Women’s Aid, Together and YWCA Scotland, are calling for action to withdraw the Bill and for further moves to protect human rights, including for the Scottish Government to:

  • Use existing powers of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 to maximise protections for survivors of trafficking and exploitation
  • Undertake a full review of Scottish Government strategies with a view to taking action within devolved areas to prevent and mitigate harmful impacts of the Bill
  • Commit to ensuring the Scottish Human Rights Bill provides a clear and explicit commitment to upholding the rights of refugees and migrants in Scotland
  • Request the Lord Advocate provides human rights compliant guidance to Police and prosecutors on decisions regarding refugees and survivors of exploitation for how they arrived in the UK.

Click here to read the letter in full (via Just Right Scotland website)

Silhouette of a person with long hair looking at a blue sky with clouds

News: Minimum age of criminal responsibility legislation fully commenced

Posted 17 December, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

Today marks the full commencement of the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 meaning children under the age of 12 years old can no longer be charged or arrested.

The Act was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in May 2019, received Royal Assent in June 2019 and has been implemented in stages.

Speaking in 2019, then Children's Minister Maree Todd, said:

“We can be proud that Scotland is leading the way in the UK. This new law means that no child under 12 will ever again be arrested or charged with an offence in Scotland. But the Bill also ensures that serious harmful behaviour will be investigated appropriately, and victims will continue to get the support they need.”

The Act also places a statutory duty on the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance to Police Scotland on the use of a place of safety, provide a list of places of safety and provide statutory guidance on the investigative interview.

Scottish ministers have a duty to establish a register of child interview rights practitioners (ChIRPs) who will provide advice, support and assistance to children with their involvement in investigative interviews. A Code of Practice sets out the national standards that apply to all ChIRPs, as implemented by the Act.

Whilst raising the age of criminal responsibility has been welcomed across the children’s sector, some components of the Act have been criticised by the Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland.

Writing for Children in Scotland, he highlights the law means that Scotland’s age of criminal responsibility is still two years below the minimum international standard and draws attention to elements of the legislation which, he says, risk undermining children’s rights in relation to disclose, police powers and information sharing.

To support progress, and continual review of the legal minimum age of criminal responsibility, Scottish Ministers will continue to review the Act.

An advisory group, which includes Together, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, Scottish Children’s Report Administration, Social Work Scotland and Action for Children, has been established to support the review.

Click here to find out more about the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019

Click here to read the comment by Bruce Adamson, published on our pages yesterday (16 December)

A black and white image of a man looking at the camera from the chest up. He has short brown hair and is wearing a suit and tie.

Comment: Despite the increase in age of criminal responsibility we are still failing our children

Posted 16 December, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

Thirty years since the UK ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) some children are still being left behind, writes Bruce Adamson (pictured)

Three decades ago the UK ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Scotland continues to progress plans to incorporate it into domestic law.

However, at just eight years old, our age of criminal responsibility is still the lowest in the world.

Tomorrow, it will legally change to 12 years old, but that isn’t a cause for celebration. How can we celebrate a law that is still two years below the minimum international standard and is still failing children?

The Scottish Government has identified the change to mean “primary school-aged children will no longer be stigmatised from being labelled as offenders at such a young age, which will improve their life chances and wellbeing”. But, at 12 years old, we are still talking about children.

The UNCRC defines a child as up to 18. When did 12 become the age at which we stopped caring about stigmatising children, their life chances and wellbeing, or their rights?

Using the criminal law to address harmful behaviour by children is wrong. We know that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning is still evolving in children and rapid brain development affects risk-taking, decision-making and the ability to control impulses.

International evidence has found that early involvement in the criminal justice system increases the likelihood of a child continuing to engage in harmful behaviour. The best way to address this behaviour is early intervention, supporting families in crisis and children at risk.

Many children in conflict with the law have complex or traumatic childhood experiences, so we need community-based, early intervention services.

A low age of criminal responsibility does not keep us safer, nor does it provide an effective remedy for those affected by the behaviour of children.

But how can we celebrate when additional police powers in the law further undermine children’s rights?

In fact, the new law risks undermining children’s rights in relation to disclosure, police powers and information sharing.

It may have unintended consequences as police can hold information on the behaviour of all children under 12, not just those aged eight to 11 as before, without many of the checks and protections that currently exist.  We know that this can have a life-long impact on children.

We also need to remain cautious about provisions in the law on information sharing and children’s rights to privacy. It is understandable that those who are harmed by children’s behaviour may wish to know what has happened to that child. However, this is not proportionate.

And where does early criminalisation lead? How can we celebrate when we still imprison children under 18, sometimes simply because there isn’t a place in a secure unit available, in circumstances that breach their rights and can have tragic results. This is evidenced by recent work by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS).

All this shows we are so far from the type of rights-respecting child justice system we committed to three decades ago.

And it’s not just children in conflict with the law who are being left behind. Covid has disproportionally affected children whose rights were already most at risk, including children living in poverty, disabled children, care experienced children, black and minority ethnic children, young carers, and children of prisoners. More children are in poverty, in need of mental health support and suffering bereavement.

As we mark 30 years of the UNCRC, we should be celebrating the commencement of the UNCRC law unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament in March. A law which was fought for by children and young people to ensure rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Yet ten weeks after the UK Supreme Court ruled that changes were required, we are still waiting for the Scottish Government to produce those amendments.

Every delay is another day that children don’t have their rights properly protected.

We spoke to the Scottish Government just last month and urged them to act. The government’s lack of transparency and continued delays raises some serious questions.

For 30 years children have been waiting, and they are still waiting. That’s nothing to celebrate.

Bruce Adamson is the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

The Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 will officially come into force on Friday 17 December, 2021 raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12 years old. 

The Commissioner has long been critical of Scotland’s approach to the age of  criminal responsibility. Click here to read the full position statement

Manifesto launches with calls for wellbeing to be at heart of Scottish budget and children protected from air pollution

13 November 2020

Children in Scotland today launches its Manifesto for the 2021-26 Scottish Parliament, backed by national and local organisations from across the children’s sector.

The Manifesto outlines key changes in policy and legislation the charity believes the next Scottish Government must make to improve outcomes for children and young people living in Scotland, and their families.

Click here to download a copy of the Manifesto

It contains 10 themes and 33 calls, with demands of political parties including:

Drawing on the experience in Finland to introduce a ‘hobby premium’ to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have free access to a hobby or activity of their choice within or around the school day.

Rights and democracy
Supporting Citizens Assemblies to extend their scope to include the voice and perspectives of under-16s.

Economic planning
Producing a comprehensive Wellbeing Budget by 2022 to ensure that the annual Scottish budget is designed and implemented with the goal of improving the wellbeing of all citizens in Scotland, including children, young people and families.

Improving air quality in locations where children live, learn and play: a school air quality monitoring and education scheme should be introduced to measure air quality, educate children and families about this issue, and reduce children’s exposure to harmful pollutants.

Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

“Our Manifesto is being launched at the end of a punishing year for so many children and families, but we feel there’s a shared recognition that this is also a time for a radical change in direction for policymaking and legislation.

“We now need a deeper and more wholehearted restructuring of society, based on redistributing power to children, young people and families who’ve never had it before. Taken together the calls in this Manifesto make that case.”

Amy Woodhouse, the charity’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“This Manifesto builds on three examples of hugely significant policy change in Scotland over the past year – the recommendations of the Independent Care Review, the introduction of the Equal Protection Act, and the promise of full incorporation of the UNCRC.

“These are all powerful signs of the effectiveness of collective campaigning to make change for children, and we’ll be taking forward our 2021-26 Manifesto in that spirit.

“In the run-up to the election as we use this Manifesto to influence parties’ policy platforms, we will welcome the support and solidarity of other organisations who may wish to endorse our calls.”

Organisations who have already endorsed the Manifesto in full include Save the Children, Children 1st, YouthLink Scotland, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid), Includem, Play Scotland, Starcatchers, the Health and Social Care Alliance and the Yard.

Organisations that have signed up to specific themes include the Children’s Parliament (Theme 1), Friends of the Earth Scotland (Theme 9), Place2Be (Themes 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10) and the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (Themes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10).

The Manifesto was shared yesterday with Children in Scotland’s members, and attendees at the charity’s online annual conference.

It has been developed over the past 18 months with input from Children in Scotland’s members, its children and young people’s advisory group, and its staff and Board.

Media contacts

Chris Small:

Catherine Bromley:

Photography from the Manifesto is available to publish on request. Please contact Chris Small or Catherine Bromley.

2021-26 Manifesto: PDF version

Download a PDF booklet of the Manifesto to read our themes and calls

Click to download the PDF

2021-26 Manifesto: Page Suite version

Read our themes and calls on the Page Suite digital platform with 'flickable' pages

Click to read on Page Suite

2021-26 Manifesto: Young People's Version

A short, child-friendly version and summary of all our themes and calls

Click to download it

Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing

Dr Katherine Trebeck's report informs many of our Manifesto themes

Click to download the report

Manifesto Magazine

Contributors from across the sector tell us why they're endorsing our Manifesto in this special edition

Click to read the magazine

A plan for renewal not simply recovery

Amy Woodhouse explains the approach we took to compiling the Manifesto

Click to read Amy's blog

Changing our World

Our young people's advisory group have been key to shaping the Manifesto

Click to find out more

UK Government Manifesto

In December 2019 we launched a children's manifesto for the new UK Government

Click to find out more

25 and Up: The ‘old normal’ meant acceptance of injustice for too many families. We can’t go back to it

9 October 2020

In a special blog for Challenge Poverty Week, Clare Simpson revisits her 25 Calls contribution, arguing that UNCRC incorporation and the work of the Care Review provide the scaffolding for change Scotland’s families need

Back in 2018 when we made our call for relationship-based whole family support (click to read), addressing the poverty blighting the lives of too many of Scotland’s families, the world was a very different place.

Things felt more hopeful. The Scottish Government had just announced its commitment to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law. The Independent Care Review was at the beginning of its Journey towards its final Promise. The need for better support for families, along with the acknowledgement that this could not be done without tackling poverty, was really gaining traction. And perhaps most importantly, we weren’t living through a pandemic with all its consequent disruption of families’ lives.

Families have been thrust right to the forefront during the pandemic, their essential role suddenly visible and prominent where once it was just background. We thought we no longer had a village to raise our children. But we realised when they were taken away that family and friends, education and other services were that village and that without them families were left horribly exposed.

But families’ troubles were not due solely, or even mostly, due to the impact of the pandemic. Years of austerity had already created a society riven by inequalities. Too many families had been swept away by a rising tide of poverty and many more were teetering on the edge. A forthcoming report by Barnardos and the NSPCC, Challenges from the Frontline Revisited, puts the stark reality of life for too many families under the spotlight. The pandemic has highlighted what was already too many families’ everyday reality.

Pre-pandemic, one in four children in Scotland was already living in poverty. The numbers are predicted to rise. Many families were living in poverty regardless of whether they worked or not. Approximately four in 10 people were experiencing in-work poverty (Poverty in Scotland 2020, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, click to read). Insecure employment and zero-hour contracts left many at the mercy of unregulated employers while inadequate social security levels meant that those who were forced to resort to benefits were far from socially secure.

After lockdown, the number of working hours in Scotland fell sharply, with low-paid workers more likely to lose jobs and pay. Universal Credit claims doubled in the six months from March 2020 with areas with higher poverty rates pre-pandemic most significantly affected (JRF, 2020). While many were able to weather the storm and cut back on spending, those living in poverty, especially private renters and younger people, already spent the vast majority of their income on essentials and were unlikely to have savings to fall back on, according to the ONS.

It can’t be fair that some of us can take out a Netflix subscription and buy a comfort takeaway to make life easier during these COVID days, while others can’t afford to keep up rent payments and need to rely on foodbanks to feed themselves and their children.

The call that we made back in 2018 has become more important than ever. Relationship-based whole family support is essential to ensure that every family has the resources to ensure their children can thrive. When families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, to pay bills and put meals on the table, inevitably mental health suffers, stress levels soar and bringing up children becomes so much more difficult. We need to talk about supporting families rather than about family support, working alongside families to make sure they are not cast adrift in a rising tide of poverty.

Article 27 of the UNCRC states “Every child has the right to a standard of living that meets their physical and social needs and supports their development. Governments must support families who cannot provide this.”

It is a beacon of hope and a mark of a civilised society that Scotland has committed to incorporating the UNCRC into domestic law. Properly resourced and used as a framework to support families, incorporation has the potential to be a gamechanger for families who, through no fault of their own, cannot provide an adequate standard of living for their children. Alongside the strong commitment made to supporting families in the Independent Care Review’s the Promise and its Ten Principles of family support, UNCRC incorporation provides the scaffolding for the change that Scotland’s families need.

But effecting that change will require proper resourcing and genuine cross-departmental working at national and local government levels. It will mean help with work and employability, more affordable homes and more income support for families.

It simply isn’t right that we leave so many families unable to provide for their children. We have to get this right for Scotland’s families. Please don’t let the new normal be the same as the old normal.

Clare Simpson is Manager of Parenting across Scotland

About the author

Clare Simpson is Manager of Parenting across Scotland

Click to find out more

Poverty in Scotland 2020

This report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was published in October 2020

Click to find out more

25 Calls, 25 and Up

Find out more about our campaign in partnership with organisations across the sector

Click to find out more

"Whole-family support is needed"

Clare's 25 Calls campaign call focused on the need for meaningful support for families

Click to read

Incorporation 'to the max' welcome

Find out why we back full incorporation and read our consultation response

Click to read

Our view on the Programme for Government:  Positive pledges on youth jobs and climate, more ambition needed on family support and fighting poverty

3 September 2020

Children in Scotland has responded to Tuesday’s publication of the Programme for Government.

Commenting on key policy areas including UNCRC incorporation, ELC expansion and health inequalities, our Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Amy Woodhouse, said:

UNCRC incorporation: a milestone in improving outcomes for children

“We are delighted that the long-standing commitment to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been met with a clear plan to bring forward the Bill in this parliament. We await the Bill being published and look forward to working with partners across the sector, Scottish Government, and MSPs to support its passage into law.

We know that incorporation will contribute to culture change in Scotland and enhance the support that we provide to children, young people, and families. The continued commitment to incorporation is a clear sign of the focus on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Financial support for families: the gap still to be bridged

“As a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition we have been supportive of the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment by February 2021 for eligible families with children under the age of six. We are pleased to see that applications for the fund will open in November. However, we hope to see activity by the Scottish Government to ensure uptake of the payment is maximised.

“We are also disappointed that there is no financial payment to bridge the gap between now and February. We know that families need support now, and view this as a failure to respond to rising rates of poverty. As members of the End Child Poverty Coalition we will continue to work with partners to ensure that families have the financial support they need.

Education: commitment must be matched by ambition and implementation

“It is positive to see investment in teachers and support staff, particularly as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an additional 200 support staff does not appear to be an ambitious enough response to the scale of the problem. We know that schools were already struggling to meet the needs of all children and young people prior to the pandemic, and this situation will only have become more complex.

“We are pleased to see the commitment to implementation of the recommendations contained within Angela Morgan’s recent review of the Implementation of Additional Support for Learning. However, a specific timeline for implementation must be introduced and a financial commitment made, otherwise the detrimental impact on children and young people’s wellbeing will continue. We know these changes will be needed now more than ever given the impact of COVID-19.”

ELC expansion: don’t let delay risk overriding aim of reducing inequalities

“The Programme for Government also contains a commitment to update on the expansion of Early Learning and Childcare. An assessment of the readiness for expansion will be provided by December. Children in Scotland is concerned by these delays as evidence prior to COVID-19 suggested that the expansion was already behind schedule. The expansion could make a potentially transformative contribution to reducing inequalities for children and families and do not wish to see the benefits delayed.

“Through our campaigning and influencing work we will push for the expansion to be rolled out as soon as possible to provide support to children and families, emphasising at all the times the importance of quality and inclusive practice. We also will look forward to seeing the framework for expanding childcare to school-age children across the next parliamentary term.

“While it was also promising to see a range of commitments to family support within the Programme for Government, much of this was money that had already been committed.”

Youth Guarantee: a welcome step if high quality jobs are guaranteed too

“We are encouraged to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to a Youth Guarantee, which will ensure all 16-24-year olds will have access to a job, training, or education.

“However, we are waiting to see further detail to clarify that the scheme will not include zero hour contracts or jobs which mean young people are left under-employed. It is essential that the youth guarantee supports high quality jobs.

“We are also pleased to see support for parental employment including those at risk such as low-income parents. However, we would query whether £2.35million is enough to support the ambitions of such a scheme.”

The Promise: support for recommendations, support for resourcing

“It was encouraging to see the continued commitment to implementing the recommendations with The Promise. Children in Scotland is happy to be supporting The Promise team with this work but would have liked to have seen firmer commitments on timescales and financial resource for the implementation.

Mental health and wellbeing: early prevention a priority missed 

“Children in Scotland would have liked to have seen more ambition in supporting better mental health and wellbeing for children and young people. Several positive new actions were laid out with in the Programme for Government, including:

  • A renewed focus on community health and wellbeing services
  • Work with women and girls’ organisations to explore the individual and structural issues that contribute to poor mental health for this group.

“However, we would have liked to have seen a far greater focus on a move towards early intervention and prevention and tackling the structural determinants of poorer mental health.

“We also would query the necessity of a further CAMHS recovery plan in response to COVID-19 given the breadth of work over the recent years that has shown the changes needed to mental health provision in Scotland.”

Health and wellbeing: positive moves on tackling inequalities 

“We were pleased to see a focus on tackling health inequalities within the programme for government and particularly pleased to see action on reducing harm from alcohol and cigarettes, the effects of emissions and to reduce drug deaths. Action to improve active travel and improve diets is also welcome.

“However, we are concerned that this activity is still heavily focussed on individual behaviour change and does recognise the impact of poverty and inequality on health and wellbeing.”

Digital: access and inclusion emphasis welcome

“The broad focus on digital access and inclusion within the Programme for Government is very welcome. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to support everyone to have access to digital technology.

“We are pleased to see commitments to roll out super-fast broadband across the country and the proposals to expand the Connecting Scotland Fund. We are aware of the benefit this fund has had so far and are pleased to see an extra £23million to support a further 50,000 people experiencing digital exclusion.

“However, we also need to see continued complementary action to reduce the grip of poverty to ensure that all families can access the resources they require.”

Environment: progress on emissions targets

“Children in Scotland is extremely pleased to see the commitment within the Programme for Government to tackle climate change, and welcomes the pledge that Scotland will become a net zero emitter by 2045. We would like to see this supported by a commitment to a 75% reduction by 2030.

“We are particularly pleased to see a focus on tackling high emissions/carbon industries. It is essential that industry take responsibility for tackling climate change as a key emitter of CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases.

“Measures announced to make homes more energy efficient are also very encouraging. Not only will this reduce emissions it should help tackle fuel poverty.

“We await further detail from experts in this sector on whether these plans are ambitious enough.”

Communities: 20-minute scheme a plus if holistic needs are part of the plan

“We are pleased to see the commitment to improving the neighbourhoods in which children and young people grow up. We are interested to see more information about the proposed 20-minute neighbourhood scheme which aims to ensure everyone can meet all their essential needs within 20 minutes of their house.

“However, our recent Health Inequalities work showed that there is much work to be done to create communities that are safe and positive places for children and young people to grow up. Scottish Government must learn from these findings. We would also advocate for consideration of the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Model in conjunction with the 20-minute neighbourhood scheme so that children’s holistic needs are fully considered, including the right to play.”

Gender Recognition Act: lack of legislation a blow for trans young people

“We are disappointed that there appears to be little mention of bringing forward legislation to reform the Gender Recognition Act. Children in Scotland knows the benefit that reforms to how trans young people access a Gender Recognition Certificate would have. We will continue to work with partners across the sector to ensure support is available for trans young people.”

2020-21 Programme for Government

The First Minister announced the 2020-21 Programme for Government on 1 September

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"We call for full incorporation"

In our 2019 consultation response we said the UNCRC must be part of Scots law

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"Another generation can't go through this"

In May we commented on new child poverty stats, drawing on learning from our projects

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"Don't lose focus on inequality challenge"

We recently commented on the delay in early learning and childcare expansion

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"A big moment for Scotland's future"

In February we welcomed the Care Review's calls and pledged to #KeepThePromise

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"A unique report led by young people"

In February we launched our Health Inequalities research

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Our project work

Young people's rights and participation is central to our project work

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Making rights real: new digital accessibility resource launches

20 November 2019

We’ve launched a new resource allowing visitors to our website to customise content so that they can access it in ways that work best for them.

The move reflects our ongoing commitment to accessible communications and is part of our activity marking World Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Recite Me is an easy-to-use web accessibility tool, which includes:

  • text to speech functionality
  • dyslexia software
  • an interactive dictionary, and
  • a translation tool with more than 100 languages.

It allows website users to interact with web content in the easiest and most useful ways for them.

To activate Recite Me, visitors to our website can simply go to the top menu bar on the home page and click ‘Accessibility help’.

Approximately one billion people globally have a disability and can face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites that prevent them from taking an active part in life.

In the UK, website accessibility is covered by the Equality Act 2010, which has provision for the right for disabled people to have access to everyday goods and services, which includes websites.

Article 2 of the UNCRC refers to non-discrimination, meaning rights apply to every child whatever their race, colour, gender, language, religion, ethnicity, disability or any other status.

Welcoming the launch of Recite Me, Children in Scotland’s Joint Acting Chief Executive Simon Massey said:

“We take our commitment to inclusion seriously, and that means making a real effort to engage and involve as many people in our network as possible.

“Adding Recite to our website is another step in making our communications as accessible as they should be, and removing barriers for disabled people to take part in what we do.

“We’re pleased to be introducing this resource on World Children’s Day and the UNCRC 30th anniversary, mindful of Article 2 of the UNCRC which reminds us that children and young people – including disabled children and young people – shouldn't be discriminated against.

“As the representative body for the children’s sector we’re interested to hear what our members and website users think of Recite and what further improvements to support accessible communications we should make in future. Please let us know!”

How to use Recite Me

Go to the top of the navigation bar on this website and click 'Accessibility'

Click to visit the website


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

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My Rights, My Say

The My Rights, My Say service supports children aged 12-15 to use their rights

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REACH helps young people understand their rights about support for learning

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