We’ve all been taking some time, now that things have finally started to quieten down, to reflect on our work and achievements of the last 12 months. 

The abiding theme of this year must be reconnection. After two years of mostly online interactions, we were finally able to get back together, in person. From our events at the Scottish Parliament, the launch of our Home and Belonging and Local House Project evaluations, to our National Conference last month, it really has been wonderful to see people properly again and feel the buzz of being in a room full of people wanting to do the very best by, for and with our care leavers. 

Below you can watch a video of some of the highlights of the year and also some thoughts from our team on their work and there hopes for 2023

2022 in 2 mins!

Chris Walsh, Throughcare and Aftercare Workforce Lead 

I would say that’s it’s been a privilege meeting the workforce from the length and breadth of the country throughout the year and listening to the journey they have been on through Covid and beyond. Its striking how committed the workforce are to delivering a service to the young people they work with and the difference this has made to peoples lives. The workforce really have went above and beyond during this time and it has been a honour to bear witness to this.

I think that some of the main issues that have surfaced throughout the year are:

  • Having a national minimum payment for carers which would include Supported Lodgings Providers as well as those providing Continuing Care, set by the Scottish Government is desperately needed

  • Covid has had a severe effect on young peoples mental health and on the morale of the workforce who are have worked non stop throughout the pandemic and beyond

  • Refreshed statutory guidance on Continuing Care, simplifying and being more explicit on the process and expectations of this legislation would help

  • Ongoing refresher training for the workforce on Continuing Care is needed for Local Authorities. Knowledge is often lacking with staff turnover and generic teams covering a multitude of roles, including Throughcare and Aftercare, but without the specialist knowledge  

  • Increased funding is required from the Scottish Government for Local Authorities to continue to provide Continuing Care to all eligible young people

  • The workforce have innovated and adapted their working practices through Covid to continue to deliver a service to those that needed it the most 

You can check out our calendar of focus group events here

Ruth Kerracher, Youth Justice Participation Lead 

It’s been a busy year for our amazing young people and staff at Youth Justice Voices. Inside Out were shortlisted as finalists for the Pioneering Project of the year at the Scottish Charity Awards due to their commitment to improve care-experienced boys and young men’s experience of HMPYOI Polmont alongside SPS and Barnardo’s. Not forgetting a visit from Keith Brown the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. Youth Just Us have been involved in a whole host of things including CLAN Childlaw and Claire Lightowler’s scoping study on how to improve the legal needs and rights of children and young people in conflict with the law. We are excited to continue this partnership in the New Year where we will work to co-produce an animation to disseminate some of the key findings that young people told us. Youth Just Us and Inside Out also took part in a range of consultations including the Children’s Care and Justice Bill and proposed changes around Bail, Remand and Release. You can read more about our work and some of our talented members blogs here on our website.

None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the tireless efforts the past and present young people who have been committed to Youth Just Us and Inside Out over the past year; our partners who have supported young people’s participation and engagement and of course our funders the National Lottery and The Promise.

What’s next?

We have big plans ahead for 2023 starting with an exciting creative project kicking off on the 23rd of January with Liminal Studios. We are inviting young people aged 16 - 25 with experience of the care and justice systems to participate in the digital storytelling workshops they will be running in the new year. Using the latest virtual reality technology, participants will be encouraged to become aware of their own power, challenge the labels and write their own story for the future. Pizza will also be provided!  And we have a few spaces left for young people to sign up and join. Contact [email protected] now to book your place 

In 2023 we will be continuing our work with Youth Just Us and Inside Out. Find out more about Youth Just Us here  but we will also be kicking off an exciting new chapter as we look to establish a brand new Youth Justice Voices steering group for care and justice experienced young people in the North of Scotland. This is an amazing opportunity for young people to not only be a changemaker but to help shape and form this new project. Our next participation practitioners forum will take place on the 26th of January and we are inviting practitioners and organisations predominately based in Aberdeen and the Shires (further a field welcome too) to join us online to hear more about how you can support young people’s participation and engagement. We will then hold a fun and creative information session for young people interested in the project on Thursday the 16th of February 4-7pm in person in Aberdeen (venue to be confirmed). For more info about this exciting new venture you can contact [email protected]

Katrina Gallagher, Project Development Worker (Care experienced community) 

Care Leavers Forum

Over the last year, the care leavers forum have done work around finance including setting the priority topics for the Cross Party Group work plan and engaging with the First Minister for a pilot of a guaranteed income for care leavers.

The forum also partnered up with Care leavers Association and IFCO for a building bridges project – brining Scottish and English care leavers together with stakeholders and corporate parents to discuss the key themes identified by them. The event was very well received and the CLF will be looking to engage more with other care leavers and stakeholders from across Scotland in the new year.

The Real Toolkit 

Over the last year our advisory group focused on making changes around language and terminology in The Real Toolkit guides – we did this after feedback received from people with care experience and members of the workforce. One of the biggest changes we made was to change the young peoples page to people with care experience to reflect the wider care experienced community and we updated guides to reflect this.

In the new year we are hoping to be able to have physical copies of The Real Toolkit to be used by people who engage with care experienced people. We will also be hoping to engage more corporate parents and practitioners and people with lived experience to improve the resource and maximise its use. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to The Real Toolkit, gave feedback or used the website.

Gary Brown, National Leadership Network Development Co-ordinator

2022 has been an important year for the National Leadership Network and we would like to thank every individual, group, project, and organisation that we have linked with over the last 12 months. Some of our favourite moments of the year have been:

  • Working with 4 young people on the National Leadership Network Interim Oversight Board who amongst many things led on the Steering Group recruitment process.

  • Working with another 4 young people who led on the promotion around the Steering Group recruitment as well as leading on the recent ‘Exploring Possibilities’ event.

  • Hosting the ‘Exploring Possibilities’ event which featured 10 presenters and was attended by 40 people. Watch out for similar events in 2023.

  • Linking in with over 70 people through applications for the Steering Group roles.

  • Sign posting many leadership opportunities and experiences to over 100 people on our email distribution list.

  • Starting the NLN Roadshows in East Ren and Aberdeen. In 2023 we will aim to link with groups of people with care experience where they are to talk about leadership opportunities where they are based.

  • NLN staff featuring on two national podcasts.

  • Delivering presentations and having information stalls on the National Leadership Network in various contexts over Scotland.

  • Sharing 6 blogs on the theme of leadership and 1 from a member of the Interim Oversight Board. We also shared 2 vlogs by another 2 young people we have been working with.

  • NLN staff being part of the Celcis Participation Network Steering Group and the Collective Leadership Scotland Steering Group.

  • Having lots of fun at our first two virtual quizzes.

  • Building and developing working relationships with so many individuals, groups, and projects in and out of the care experience community.

  • Taking part in trauma training with friends at the Resilience Learning Partnership.

  • Working with our Life Changes Trust legacy partners from the Learning Channel, Tek Cares and Care and Creativity – sharing resources, learning, and supporting each other.

  • Working with our host’s comms teams on all matters relevant to NLN comms.

  • Developing pieces of work which are currently unfinished which include a first version of a NLN website, NLN hoodies, individual grants, a learning resource being done in partnership with CELCIS and much more.

  • Working with our hosts – CYCJ, Columba 1400, Resilience Learning partnership (RLP), Staf, and Who Cares? Scotland developing the processes we need to have in place to fund projects and support the evolution and growth of this 5-year project

We look forward to working with all our friends, hosts, partners and allies in 2023 and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For more information on the National Leadership Network please contact [email protected]

Thank you to everyone who has worked with us this year. We couldn't do what we do without you!