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Economy ‘must be redesigned’ with focus on wellbeing and environmental sustainability

17 November 2022

Children in Scotland has joined more than 100 other organisations calling for Scotland to make a wellbeing economy a reality.

An open letter, issued yesterday (16 November) to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, once again calls for the Scottish Government to put wellbeing and environmental sustainability at the heart of all economic decisions.

Signatories welcome measures already put in place, such as the first Wellbeing Economy monitor, but stress progress is not happening fast enough.

The letter urges Nicola Sturgeon to transform Scotland’s National Performance Framework into a Wellbeing Framework and strengthen its power and reach.

Other calls include using devolved tax powers for a better distribution of wealth; investment in social security; universal basic services and reshaping the business landscape to prioritise enterprises that enhance collective wellbeing.

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

“Scotland is still fighting what can often feel like an impossible battle when it comes to poverty and inequality. We know turning the tide on these will make a real terms improvement to people’s lives and collective wellbeing – but we cannot make this happen until we create conditions that provide the basis for change.

“Last year, in collaboration with Carnegie UK Trust, Cattanach and lead author Dr Katherine Trebeck we published our Being Bold report, outlining why and how to build budgets for collective wellbeing. In it we called for an economy that is outcomes-oriented, rights-based, preventative and participatory.

“Our 2021-26 Manifesto also places wellbeing at the heart of its ambitions for the economy, calling for a comprehensive Wellbeing Budget and an annual Scottish budget that is designed and implemented with the goal of improving the wellbeing of all.

“Last week at our annual conference, a panel of experts including Dr Lukas Bunse, policy and engagement lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance in Scotland, Juliet Harris, director of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), Jennifer Wallace, Director (Policy and Engagement), Carnegie UK Trust, and Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women's Aid again highlighted the importance of the Scottish Government taking a wellbeing approach to budgeting.

"They stressed how urgent this was, particularly in the context of children’s rights and our current cost-of-living crisis.”

“The commitment of the organisations who have been involved in our work so far, and our fellow signatories to the letter, demonstrate an appetite for change and a commitment from across sectors to move our economy forward so that it can better serve the society we want to create.”

The letter, co-ordinated by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, was submitted ahead of the Wealth of Nations 2.0 Conference which takes place on 22 November in Glasgow. The event will bring together fellow senior representatives of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, of which Scotland is a founding member.

Click here to read the letter in full

Click here for more on our Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing report, published in March 2021

Click here to view the Manifesto 2021-26

Click here to read a social media summary of day one of our annual conference

An open letter to the First Minister

Calls for the economy to be redesigned, signed by more than 100 organisations

Click here to access

Being Bold

A major report calling for the Scottish Government to make radical changes to budgeting

Click here to find out more

Manifesto 2021-26

Our calls to improve the lives of children, young people and familie

Click here to view

Annual conference 2022: Day 1

Explore the highlights from day one of our annual conference

Click here to access
Photo. A young girl looks off camera. She has brown hair blowing in the wind and has a sad / thoughtful expression. She appears to be outside.

News: New calls to action for Anti-Bullying Week 2022

Posted 15 November, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

respectme, Scotland’s national anti-bullying charity, has called for action to address bullying during this year’s Anti-Bullying week, announcing a new campaign hub and urging those working with children and young people to make a real commitment to change.

The Listen Up! (Respect our Rights) Campaign was created with input from respectme’s Youth Action Group, requesting all reports of bullying are taken seriously and for children’s rights to be at the heart of all effective responses to bullying.

During the development of the campaign, the young ambassadors talked at length about times they have felt unheard and shared experiences of not being taken seriously when reporting bullying to a professional or trusted adult.

Listen Up! (Respect our Rights) aims to open a national conversation to inspire adults to listen and take action to stop bullying in its tracks.

As part of the campaign, children and young people in schools, youth settings and at home will be asked to engage with the campaign by taking part in class-based lessons through drama and dance, and through new youth-led activities exploring children’s rights in the context of bullying and kindness.

Five Step Action Plan

During Anti-bullying week, and beyond, educations, schools, youth and sports clubs are invited to pledge to the charity’s Five Step Action Plan:

  • Registering for respectme’s Ant-Bullying Learning Academy eLearning modules
  • Refresh, review and update current anti-bullying policy
  • Create a pupil form or anti-bullying committee to inform anti-bullying policy and practice
  • Create simple, safe pathways for reporting bullying that respect children’s rights
  • Involve children and young people with Listen Up! Campaign activities and messages for anti bullying week 2022.

Anti-Bullying Week 2022 runs from Monday 14 November-Friday 18 November.

Click here to visit the Listen Up! (Respecting our Rights) campaign hub

Click here to find out more about Anti-Bullying Week 2022, and the wider work of respectme

New edition of Insight magazine available now

The winter edition of Insight, Children in Scotland's biannual membership magazine, is published today.

Providing a space for reflection and aiming to drive dialogue, Insight has been created for our members as a key part of our membership benefits offer and is also available by subscription to non-members.

Across the magazine, we profile the individuals pushing for progress and the projects making it possible; look critically at some of the big issues facing children, young people and families, and share new examples of best practice from across the children's sector.

In this issue Kenny Murray, new Director of Inclusion and Engagement at Who Cares? Scotland, tells us why accountability is key; Dr Lynn McNair reflects on the opportunities a later school start age could bring; Alison Watson from Shelter Scotland comments on the record number of children in temporary accommodation; and Magic Torch Comics share how sequential storytelling can help unlock literacy.

Jennifer Drummond, Editor of Insight, says:

As we approach the end of the year, the conversation continues around how to mitigate the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting so many families.

“From addressing stigma and campaigning for equality for those who are Care Experienced, to supporting those facing homelessness or dealing with childhood trauma, this latest edition considers some of the challenges facing our most disadvantaged communities.”

Insight is available for free to all Children in Scotland members, as both print and digital editions.

Click here to find out more about joining us in membership

Non-members can subscribe to receive Insight for just £10 per year (2 issues).

Click here find out more about subscribing to Insight.


Insight: Issue 3

Find out more about what's inside the latest issue. Image by Mary Buchanan

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Join us in membership

Find our more about the benefits of our joining our network

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Young people across Scotland encouraged to Access All Arts as phase two of Fund launches

13 October 2022

Following its success last year, the Access All Arts Fund is back to support more young people to access creative opportunities.

Applications to the Fund are open from today (Thursday 13 October), with young people who have encountered any barriers to accessing arts experiences in their lives encouraged to apply.

Click here to find out how to apply to the project

The Fund, delivered by Children in Scotland as part of Creative Scotland’s youth arts funding, aims to help children and young people experience creative arts opportunities and strengthen wellbeing as a result.

While in its first year, the Fund focused on young people with disabilities or additional support needs. This year the emphasis is on any young people who are facing obstacles to taking part in creative experiences. These could include poverty or cultural barriers.

David Mackay, Children in Scotland’s Policy & Projects Manager and Access All Arts Fund project lead said:

“We’re delighted to launch phase two of the Fund after the success of its first year, which saw 235 applications from children and young people and £68,000 being distributed to support visual art, music, film and TV and creative writing projects across Scotland.

“We know many young people face barriers to accessing the arts, including disability, poverty, and poor mental health. The Fund is designed to help overcome these so that as many young people as possible can enjoy creativity and experience improved wellbeing.

“This Fund is unique: it is truly ‘made by young people for young people’, and we’re hugely looking forward to being able to support more young people get involved in the fantastic creative projects that are out there.”

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 14 November.

Apply today!

Find out more about the Fund and how you can apply. Deadline: 14 November

Click here for more

Year one success

106 young people took forward arts projects as a result of Phase 1 funding (Image by AAA awardee)

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Fund partner

Access All Arts is delivered as part of Creative Scotland's youth arts funding

Click here for more
A green book logo with the text 'Keep the heid and read!'

News: Scots encouraged to 'Keep the heid and read' for Mental Health Week

Posted 10 May 2022, by Nina Joynson

Readers of all ages and abilities are being encouraged to pledge six minutes of reading for wellbeing during Mental Health Week.

A Scotland-wide initiative taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 11 May, encourages people of all ages to support their mental health and wellbeing through reading.

Keep the Heid asks adults, children and young people to pledge just six minutes of reading for enjoyment – from books and magazines to comics, graphic novels and blogs – to highlight how the activity can reduce stress.

Backed by science

The campaign has been inspired by recent research from the University of Sussex that found that reading for as little as six minutes every day can boost individual wellbeing.

The study's results showed that reading was 68% more effective in reducing stress than listening to music, and 30% better than going for a walk.

Pledging for prizes

To encourage people to read during Mental Health Week, individuals, schools and other groups can pledge their reading time on the campaign website and see their minutes added to the online count. At time of publication, over 310,000 minutes of reading have been pledged to take place on 11 May.

By signing up, readers can be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 book token. Young readers can also earn 150 Young Scot Reward points by making their pledge.

A library initiative

The 'national reading moment' is being used to call attention to Scotland's public libraries, promoting readers to choose their books from libraries to support the sector.

There were extensive public calls for libraries to reopen following lockdown, with growing recognition of their role in supporting mental health by connecting and creating communities for adults and children alike.

Keep the Heid is led by the Scottish Library and Information Council in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and Scotland’s 32 public library services.

Scottish Mental Health Week 2022 runs from 9-15 May.

Click here to learn more about Keep the Heid

Icons in bright colours including a lightbulb, tree, and flower, all arranged in a heart shape on a white background

News: Pioneering community project takes next steps

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

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

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

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

Community engagement

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

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

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

Long-term approach

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

Jo White, Depute Headteacher at Letham Primary School said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A young girl reading the Oxford English dictionary, she has blonde hair and is holding her head.

News: Anxiety named Children's Word of the Year

Posted 18 January, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

'Anxiety' is the Children’s Word of the Year 2021 according to research by Oxford University Press (OUP).

More than 8,000 children from 85 schools across the UK were asked to choose the top words they would use when talking about health and wellbeing. Almost a quarter (21 percent) chose anxiety as their number one word, followed by challenging (19 percent) and isolate (17 percent).

However, there were some indications of positivity with wellbeing and resilience also featuring as top words, signalling children’s positive attitude in the face of recent challenges.

For more than a decade experts and academic researchers in the Children’s Language department have analysed the evolution of children’s language and how it is used to reflect emotions and experiences. For 2021, wellbeing was selected as the research focus, prompted by the widespread impact Covid-19 is having on children’s education and the growing awareness of and concerns relating to children’s mental health.

Helen Freeman, Director of Early Childhood & Home Education at Oxford University Press, said:

“The research highlights the vital role language plays for children when it comes to self-expression, learning and wellbeing. It’s important now, more than ever, that we invest in supporting children's language development at home and in school. The findings demonstrate the role we all play in making sure children have the words they need to be able to express themselves and that, as adults, we are aware the language we use around children can significantly influence their learning and wellbeing.”

Joe Jenkins, Executive Director, Social Impact at The Children’s Society, said:

“It’s concerning that ‘anxiety’ is the number one word but it isn’t surprising when you consider all the restrictions and changes children had to endure. Our Good Childhood Report (2021) (click to read) found that most children showed great resilience but, worryingly, 8% (almost 1 in 12) of 10-to-17-year-olds reported that they had coped less well with the changes to life.

“Having conversations and using the right language is incredibly important when supporting children if they are feeling anxious, isolated or going through tough challenges, and it’s also crucial children are able to express how they are feeling.”

In response to the latest findings, the Children’s Language department at OUP has published the Oxford Children’s Language Report 2021 and will be updating its dictionaries and resources to further support teachers and pupils in both primary and secondary schools. Words such as ‘bubble’ and ‘lockdown’ will be revised to reflect the current usage of the words in relation to the pandemic and new phrases such as ‘self-isolation’ will be included.

Click here to read the Oxford Children’s Language Report 2021

Good Food Nation consultation response: right to food 'must be incorporated into Scots law'

20 December 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Good Food Nation Bill, calling for the right to food to be incorporated into Scots law.

The Bill proposes new legislation covering ‘the interconnected mechanisms of how food is produced, harvested, processed, distributed, sold, marketed, consumed and wasted’.

In our response we make clear our fundamental belief that all children, young people and families have the right to food, a right which extends to food that is adequate in terms of nutrition, safety and cultural appropriateness.

Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

"In our response to the Proposed Right to Food (Scotland) Bill of September 2020, we asserted that incorporating a right to food would give children, young people and families a necessary mechanism for redress if they are facing food insecurity.

"We see this as a key measure of accountability for ensuring that the Scottish Government meets its obligation to provide all children, young people and families with access to healthy, affordable food and drink.

"A right to food is about more than food insecurity – it is about taking a whole-systems approach to tackling challenges such as poverty, diet-related illness and climate change.

"It has an opportunity to play a transformative role in supporting children, young people and families who most struggle to access food."

Within our consultation response, we also call for the Good Food Nation Bill to make a direct reference to the incoming new multi-treaty Human Rights Bill.

We understand that this is being committed to as part of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership's new framework for human rights for Scotland.

The Human Rights Bill includes the incorporation of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This encompasses a right to adequate food as an essential part of the overall right to an adequate standard of living.

Nourish Scotland's Senior Projects Officer Stephanie Mander writes about the Good Food Nation Bill proposals in the first edition of Insight, our new members' publication.

In her article Stephanie calls for the Bill to include:

  • clear policy targets
  • meaningful engagement with young people, and
  • transparency on the tools for holding Ministers or public bodies to account with regard to the legislation.

Click here to read our consultation response in full

For more information about Insight and how you can become a member of Children in Scotland, click here to read the news story on the publication launch.

For more information about International School Meals Day, which is managed by Children in Scotland, click here to visit the home page.


Proposed legislation

Find out more about the Scottish Government's Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill

Click to visit the website

Children in Scotland's Manifesto 2021-26

Rights, Inequality and Health and Wellbeing all feature as themes in our manifesto

Click here for more

Food, Families, Futures (2016-2020)

Our award-winning project addressed the underlying causes of food insecurity

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Our new publication for members of Children in Scotland

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Join us in membership

Be part of Scotland's largest children's sector membership organisation

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Design is for everyone

16 December 2021

Head of Learning at V&A Dundee, Jo Mawdsley, on how good design can bring us together, foster wellbeing and strengthen partnerships

Design shapes our world. It's part of everyday life and it's everywhere. V&A Dundee is a museum with a vision of the future where everyone is inspired through design and recognises its far-reaching impact in our lives.

As a result of the pandemic, the museum was acutely aware of how crucial good design is to all of us. Good design is about equity, value, access, and joy. Reflecting on our role as a 21st century design museum and a centre for design excellence in Scotland, we have been refreshing our mission and vision.

Following the appointment of our wonderful new director, Leonie Bell, we have been on a journey in recent months to examine what we are, what we do and how we can make changes and a lasting impact for the future.

Things have changed this past year or so, and this is true for V&A Dundee. We are a pivotal part of Dundee, a city which is transforming. Throughout lockdown we engaged hundreds of families through our fun Design Busters hotline – every week a new challenge would be shared with budding designers via the special phone line. These design challenges encouraged intergenerational learning in fun and creative ways, using things most people have around their home.

Deepening our reach and impact across the community

Through our Learning Programmes, we are building on and developing a programme for all, that has at its core care, health and wellbeing.

Our successful and ongoing partnership with social empowerment, Dundee-based organisation Front Lounge has welcomed a new cohort of seven young people from their Kindred Clothing project. The eight-week course, Totes Sewing, is an introduction to machine sewing skills in which participants design and create bags inspired by the museum. What is so lovely about this project is that the participants, many of them young mums, feel so much part of the museum, using our studio space to socialise with each other and their young children.

We are developing a strong relationship with our fellow members of Children in Scotland and Families Outside – a national charity that works solely on behalf of families in Scotland affected by imprisonment. A series of outreach workshops is being developed with one of the outputs being some wonderful Christmas tree decorations designed by a group in Castle Huntly that will be displayed on the tree in the museum.

Promoting community health and wellbeing

Following on from the success of our first health and wellbeing trail, Labyrinth, we continue to work closely with medical students from the University of Dundee and design students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design to develop the second trail, Orikalmi – aimed at people who are feeling stressed, under pressure and experiencing anxiety. Using design, architecture, and museum spaces as a starting point for exploration and reflection, the trails will be available to anyone and will be distributed in partnership with NHS Tayside.

Sensory-Friendly Days for families and communities are core to our programme and offer a more relaxed way to enjoy the museum for those with autism spectrum conditions, sensory processing differences or profound and multiple learning difficulties. We work with key partners across the city, such as Dundee Carers Centre and Capability Scotland, to build on this programme.

This is just a taste of some of the wonderful programmes and activities we offer, so if you are interested in learning more about how you can engage with V&A Dundee, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click here for more information about V&A Dundee


About the author

Jo is Head of Learning at V&A Dundee

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Increasing access to arts and heritage

Our Living Museums projects explores how the sector can engage 14-21-year-olds

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25 and Up: improving access to the arts

As part of our 25 Calls campaign update, artists told us why creativity must be a the core of child support

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Our projects

We work on a huge range of projects with young people and partner organisations

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Q&A with Liz Fitzpatrick: A radical approach to GIRFEC data gathering powered by the voices of pupils

Posted 29 Sept, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

A new digital reporting system has been developed to make wellbeing data collection in schools more accessible to young people and more relevant and actionable for school staff.

Developed by the Playback Learning Academy, the ‘This Is Me’ GIRFEC wellbeing resource was trialled in 10 schools through two wellbeing surveys conducted in 2020 and 2021.

The results produced an overwhelming response, revealing how to make GIRFEC meaningful to young people and giving school staff access to data they could use to target support where it was needed most.

Playback's Chief Executive, Liz Fitzpatrick, tells us more about how the data gathering surveys worked, the response from pupils and school staff and the potential of the new digital reporting system to transform the way that we process information on children’s wellbeing and provide support.

Can you tell us a little more about the process, and the results?

"Schools currently have to collect data around children’s wellbeing based on GIRFEC. However, teachers tell us that using the wellbeing wheel is both time consuming and does not meet their needs.

"We consulted with teachers to ensure any new system was fit for purpose, including responding to their ask that the platform was accessible for children and to find a way to make GIRFEC more meaningful for them.

"We broke down the wellbeing indicators into language that children understood in the context of their experience at schools. Children then accessed a digital survey via a multi-user log in, using a QR code when completing the the survey via an iPad.

"They are offered a series of  questions with Yes, No, Don’t Know answers and a non-mandatory text box to further explain/express their response to each question. The experience is quick and accessible with the whole process taking around three to six minutes.

"Survey responses are then used to produce an individual pupil reports, immediately accessible to the teacher.

One of the most positive aspects from the data is the demonstrable improvement in wellbeing from the first survey results to the second. What do you think this meant for the schools who took part?

"I was delighted to see such positive outcomes for the children and also for the teachers and staff who had worked so hard to help them and their families during this time. This demonstrated what can be achieved when you have the right data to inform your interventions."

"We were confident that our resource would be able to generate this rich, robust data to allow improvements to be made at both an individual and strategic level. The power of the data was in the pupil voice – that’s what they told us!

What do you think the wider applications for the GIRFEC Wellbeing resource and these kinds of digital reporting systems in schools might be?

"I’m aware of other wellbeing surveys, but none which link directly to GIRFEC and reports the data collected to the staff charged with helping them move forward.

"What we have managed to do is to develop a process that brings GIRFEC to life. We have done this by listening to and consulting with the very people charged with delivering this agenda in schools.

"For those committed to the wellbeing of our children, we’d encourage them to work with us and make this available to schools across Scotland."

Interview by Catherine Bromley

Liz Fitzpatrick is Chief Executive Officer of the Playback Learning Academy

Click here for more information about This Is Me! GIRFEC Wellbeing Resource, including detailed survey data