A Young Person speaks about 2016: changing policy and practice

As someone who grew up in care in Scotland, 2016 will be a year that I never forget.

Currently I work in the policy team at Who Cares? Scotland. Who Cares? Scotland is an independent advocacy and campaigning organisation that works with and for care experienced people. We believe that care experienced people are the experts in their own lives and their experiences have the power to shape positive change. We know that when care experienced individuals are listened to, great things happen. The last time the Scottish Parliament listened directly to care experienced young people the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was introduced and it included some of the biggest changes to the system in a long time. However, outcomes are still poor and we know that bigger changes are needed; a change that impacts on not just the system, but the world around care too.

With this in mind, Who Cares? Scotland launched the ‘1000 Voices’ campaign. ‘1000 Voices’ asks that 1000 care experienced people’s voices are listened to by the First Minister. We hope that by hearing from 1000 care experienced people the First Minister will understand how things can be improved. In September 2016 the First Minister, visited our national office in Glasgow. During this visit, I got to meet her alongside some of my care experienced peers. After she had spoken with us she announced her commitment to 1000 Voices and promised to realise this over the next two years. Not long after this, Nicola Sturgeon heard our calls for a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and announced a root and branch review of care in Scotland.

I remember the 15th October 2016 like it was yesterday, the day Nicola Sturgeon announced the independent root and branch review of care. I had recently not only spoken directly to the First Minister, but I had also shared my experience of care with Deputy First Minister, John Swinney. On the 15th, I was alongside my care experience peers. I remember feeling in awe as Nicola Sturgeon came onto the stage and started talking about care experienced people. It felt very surreal to me. When Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement, John Swinney was on stage looking at me with his thumbs up. In that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud of my care experience, and of the care experienced population within Scotland.

On the 16th February 2017, it was announced that Fiona Duncan will be the chair of the independent root and branch review of care. To have someone so successful, who has care experience herself, chairing this review means so much to me. She has a proper understanding of what care can be like as she has lived it herself, to me this is the most amazing thing that could have happened. I believe that Fiona is the best person to do this job and I think she will execute this review in a beautiful way.

I believe having the care experienced voice all the way throughout the review of care will be vital in making the future better for care experienced young people. Right now in Scotland, care experienced young people face some of the worst outcomes, despite being part of a system that was designed to make things better for us, and despite the hard work delivered by professionals all around the country. I hope that from this review, care experienced young people will always know that they are LOVED, VALUED and LISTENED to. That they won’t face a potential 10 moves within their care journey. That they don’t feel different or judged just because they don’t stay at home like everyone else. That they finally feel accepted and not ashamed of their lives. I believe that the care system can be a beautiful place to grow up, once our voices are heard. I am very excited to see what the future holds for the care experienced population.

Lynzy Hanvidge, Policy Ambassador, Who Cares? Scotland