'Youth Justice Voices' is a Scotland-wide participation project, jointly run by Staf and The Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ) and funded by The Life Changes Trust, which seeks to amplify the voices of care and justice experienced young people (aged 16-25) to influence national change. We work in creative ways to enable young people to be heard in the justice system, and explore and share their experiences with policymakers, managers, corporate parents and the Scottish Government. Two groups within the Youth Justice Voices project – ‘Youth Just Us’ and ‘Inside Out’ - have responded to the ongoing consultation regarding the creation of a National Care Service.  They write:

Overall, we believe that a National Care Service is not a good idea, and we do not think it would work for a number of reasons. We have highlighted these reasons in the paragraphs below. However, a small number of us are uncertain and will wait to see what different types of services are included in the service once it is launched, and we might change our mind depending on what it includes. Not enough information is contained within the consultation at the moment.   

One of the reasons we think that a National Care Service would be a bad idea is its lack of representation. At the moment we can write to our local councillors and ask them to change services. We do not believe that this would be the same if we had a National Care Service, and our voice would not be heard as much. You can see examples of this within the NHS. A national service – like the NHS – is also not a good service to model the National Care Service on.  We feel that the NHS is underfunded and failing at the moment, so why would the government want to replicate that for the care system?

We also worried that a National Care Service would lead to people losing their jobs. This isn’t something we are prepared to accept, as losing your job can lead to poverty. We also feel that it wouldn’t be fair with so many differences between local authorities in Scotland, between rich and poor, urban and rural, and that some local authorities would be prioritised over others. We think that bigger or more centrally based locations such as Glasgow would be prioritised over smaller or more rural areas such as the Highlands. 

When services are run centrally, we feel that this would become a financial decision. We don’t agree with this and believe that money should be kept within the 32 Local Authorities where it can be spent on the priorities within those areas. If the National Care Service went ahead we think that money would be wasted on things that don’t benefit communities within local authorities, and that a National Care Service would weaken the relationship between the public and the management.

It is important that local authorities are able to continue to make their own decisions. We believe that a National Care Service would make it more difficult for correct decisions to be made, because of so many different opinions and ways of doing things across Scotland. We also believe that a national service would prioritise some issues over others. Some issues may be really important in some area, but not in others.  As a result, we think that smaller areas will lose out. We also think that a National Care Service would mean that some topics would get less attention and priority than others. Throughcare services would deteriorate and get less attention than it already does. We also believe that having one bigger organisation running care in Scotland would not automatically mean that good care is provided, and that improving things should be more important than reorganising systems.

We also think that a National Care service might also lead to a loss of opportunity for organisations to learn from each other, with the one larger provider becoming less likely to listen to voluntary organisations, for example.  This would mean that practice does not improve and the National Care Service become stuck in bad habits.

If a National Care Service is created we feel that that it should include services such as housing and addiction.  They – along with better support when making transitions from childhood to adulthood, and to improve our mental health – should be the government’s priority. If a National Care Service was created, we feel that it is important that there should be more opportunities to get support and help, and that these should be easier to access. There should also be the opportunity to stay with the same worker within a service if moving to a different local authority area, as that sort of decision should be based on the relationship. Keeping your worker is important to us, although we know that sometimes this requires more training.  We also believe that if a National Care Service is created it should ensure that boundaries do not prevent children and young people from accessing services, as sometimes this happens at the moment.

For more information about the National Care Service consultation click here 

To find out more about Youth Justice Voices click here