Talking relationships with the First Minister: what our members said As part of our Importance of Relationships project, we were delighted to welcome First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to our offices in Glasgow on Monday 11th March to hear from young people and workers about the vital impact of positive relationships in the lives of young people in and leaving care. Ruth, our Youth Justice Participation Worker, facilitated the session where young people, workers and the First Minister enjoyed a game of Jenga with a slight twist – each block had a quote on it from the interviews, which was then discussed by the group. The discussions throughout the meeting were lively and gave the First Minister a chance to hear directly from those involved in the project, from Argyll and Bute, the Scottish Borders and Falkirk. During the session discussions took place around workers being available to young people, about not having an agenda behind the conversations with young people, about being there when they’re needed, celebrating milestones (both the young person’s and the worker’s milestones) and about fighting for the young person when they need someone on their side. We also heard that young people can have as big an impact on the workers, as the workers have on the young people, and that the role is about being the best parent possible for young people. The young people and workers also raised some excellent issues and questions, including on stigma, the duty system and the cost of dental treatment. We will have now raised these directly with the Scottish Government. At the end of the session, we presented the First Minister with a jar containing hand-written quotes from the interviews as a reminder of the impact that relationship-based practice can have. Here’s what some of the workers said about the meeting: Aimee Crausaz, Scottish Borders Council “It was really nice to feel listened to by the First Minister and have the opportunity to ask some questions. It was interesting to see what other local authorities did and what we do in the Scottish Borders and how the First Minister wants to impact so that we all do the same thing, to do the right thing for our young people.” Tara Harmon-Abbott, Falkirk Council “It was really amazing, Nicola coming and I think sitting with care leavers who often don’t feel listened to and don’t feel special, giving them the opportunity to, in a small room, to spend some time with them and listen to them was absolutely invaluable to the young people.” James Kerr, Falkirk Council “I think it was a great opportunity. It was very uplifting, not only for myself but I think for all the young people that were involved here, and the workers, you know. It was very intimate, there was no formality about it. I think the First Minister really engaged with everybody and listened very carefully to everybody’s questions and she was able to have some really good input there as well. I thought it was a one-in-a-million opportunity to attend this today and I’m glad I did come. I’m really, really grateful for her to come here and talk to us first-hand. I think this is ground-breaking in terms of where we stand and what Staf are doing for us in terms of giving us opportunities to get involved in things like this. I hope it continues.” Suzanne Longster, Argyll and Bute Council "From a nervous attendee, I thought the First Minister instantly put everyone at ease. She was so down to earth and possessed an adept ability to engage with the young people in a meaningful way (with banter) but also genuinely listened to and discussed the concerns and issues raised by the workers. And despite the First Minister's hectic schedule, she gave our care-experienced young people her full attention and conveyed to them that their journeys are just as important to her as all of the other current political affairs she is committed to improving." Ann Martin, Argyll and Bute Council "I was very impressed by the setup, it was informal making young people and staff feel comfortable. The First Minister appeared focused on the issues raised and engaged in discussion with both young people and staff. She showed genuine interest and did not come across as tokenistic. I like that she made herself vulnerable by picking 'tricky' Jenga blocks - this demonstrates for me that she was showing we are all capable of failing at something, a really important message to send our young people! Both Siobhan and I felt we were listened to, respected and our views were valued."