Reported by Edinburgh Evening News – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
On 5 February, the Independent Care Review will publish its report – offering a revolutionary new approach to how we care for those whose families are not in a position to look after them.
The most revolutionary thing about the report is that it has the voice of young people with care experience at its heart. The review listened and learnt from them about what it will take to stop so many young people ending up in care and how to make sure those who do experience love and care – so that despite their past trauma, they still have a chance to flourish, as we would have all children flourish.
I was deeply privileged to be one of the workgroup co-chairs of the review. From the moment I began, I knew my primary task was to listen. Not to fix or to seek solutions or suggest changes; simply to listen and learn.
One of the groups whose stories were amongst the hardest to hear was those who were in what are called ‘secure units’. At any one time in Scotland, up to 84 young people can be in secure accommodation. The aim of such secure care units is “to provide intensive support and safe boundaries to help these highly vulnerable children re-engage and move forward positively in their communities”.
Devastating consequences of broken relationships
What we know is this is very difficult to achieve and a considerable number of them end up estranged from their families and often in homeless or insecure accommodation once they leave. Until now, there has been no national approach to offering consistent levels of quality support to young people and their families upon entering and leaving care across all five units in Scotland. Without support, the issues affecting families and young people can be left unchecked. Communication can break down, and relationships can fracture, with devastating consequences for the young person, their families and the wider community.
To change this situation, this week Cyrenians announced a new project, funded by the latest round of Cashback for Communities, to work alongside Scotland’s five secure units to support young people to escape the cycle of homelessness and institutional care. The project will support young people in secure accommodation and their families as they enter and leave secure accommodation through one-to-one support from skilled mediators, practical support for each family member, and conflict resolution workshops. The project will help build positive relationships, promote better communication, and reduce the potential for future conflict and its further consequences.