Seeing everyone together at our Staf Conference was, for me a sweet and ironic reminder of the importance of friendship’s, fitting as this was the theme of the year’s gathering. This is because the last time I spoke at this event was two years ago, before the world was hit with COVID-19.

That last time the theme was relationships and the importance of them in our lives. That was tough as I had only a few years buried my mum and struggled with the vast gap her loss had created in my own network of relationships and people to depend. I won’t ever fill that void but what the time between the last conference and this has taught me, is that there are friends and people who want to listen to me, they care about me and they love me for who I am.

The pandemic brought some really tough moments. During the the lockdowns I struggled with my mental health, I felt unworthy demotivated for life. Thankfully I was able to be reminded of my value and encouraged by my friends at Staf and Youth Just Us!

Being able to go onto stage with my friends Bella and Ruth, Bella who I met online when Youth Just us Sessions were forced online, was a wonderful moment and testimony to the value of friendships in participation projects. We have kept each other smiling and laughing during a worldwide health crisis and sat on stage to talk about that as well as the projects achievements.

We’ve worked with Police Scotland on tackling the stigma held against the care experienced community. We’ve created and launched the game ‘Nae Danger’ for No Knives, Better Lives and we’ve consulted on the Children’s and Young Person’s criminal justice bill. All the while learning that together we’re stronger and as Bella so brilliantly said during the conference ‘when we’re winning, you’re winning too!’

So aye, I just wanted to write this we piece to express my thanks to everyone who attended and listened to us speak, we appreciate it massively and hope to see you all soon!

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