As I approach the end of my second week as Chief Executive of Staf, I am already immensely proud of the work being undertaken by the team here.

Staf is an organisation that I have long been aware of, having spent 15 years in the fostering and children’s services sector. Yet over the past few years Staf has really go my attention. This was, in part, due to the implementation of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the introduction of Continuing Care in particular. Staf has been, and continues to be, one of the key organisations supporting this work.

More importantly, I was aware of Staf because it had a renewed energy, as well as an influential and consistent voice in the sector. It’s an organisation known for providing support, reflection, innovative training and thought-provoking conferences for those who support young people in and leaving care.

It’s a privilege to now be part of such a vibrant organisation. Over the next three years I will work to maintain Staf’s well-deserved reputation for providing high-quality training and events that meet the needs of the workforce; delivers on projects that represent young people; and be ambitious in our vision that the wellbeing and success of young people leaving care across Scotland is indistinguishable from that of theirs peers in the general population.

I take on this role at an exciting time for Scotland, where there is a focus on the needs of care-experienced young people like never before and real momentum behind the drive for change. I am aware, however, that there remains frustrations in the system, with competing demands on limited resources. Practice varies across the country and our young people continue to tell us that that their lived experience of care varies too.

It is imperative that we continue to represent the wants and needs of young people – not just by listening to them but working alongside them as an agent of empowerment. We will do so through the collective voice of our membership, which gives us the strength to influence policy, legislation and practice at the highest level. Indeed, I hope more Corporate Parents and other organisations supporting care-experienced young people will join us in delivering change.

In the coming months I am looking forward to getting to know our members and to working with you in an innovative and ambitious way, putting Staf’s values at the heart of everything we do – we listen, we care and we love.

I’m looking forward to meeting Staf’s members over the coming months.