How lived experience of care is helping drive Scotland’s progress towards keeping The Promise

27 October 2023

Topic: Throughcare and aftercare, Voices of young people
Author: David Anderson

David Anderson is the Co-Chair of the Oversight Board, an independent group set up to report on the progress and pace in Scotland as it journeys towards keeping The Promise it made to the care community following the findings of Scotland’s Independent Care Review in 2020. In this blog post for Care Experienced Week, David discusses the Board’s role and remit, the importance of lived experience, and invites applications from potential new members.

It’s Care Experienced Week in Scotland, and as a person with lived experience I am sending my love and support to each and every person – past and present – with lived experience. I am extending that to all those in supporting roles. I know many people are doing their best to ensure true care for each and every one of us. Change is happening and more change must come for us all to enjoy that true care, no matter at what point we are in our lives. Nothing less will do.

With this commitment to progress, change and improvement in mind, for this blog post, I wanted to share information about the work of the Oversight Board. Supported by – but not part of - The Promise Scotland, the Oversight Board works to hold Scotland to account by checking if The Promise is being kept. This promise – one that received both cross-party support and agreement from all those responsible for providing care – is now three years into the ten-year programme of change.

The role and remit of the Oversight Board

The Oversight Board is made up of 21 people from various backgrounds and in keeping with the aims of the Independent Care Review, at least half of us have lived experience of care. Our accumulation of skills, knowledge, passion, and drive are essential in doing the work to keep the care community, government, and anyone else interested in keeping tabs on Scotland’s progress to keep The Promise up to date.

We come together four times a year and participate in working groups in between regular meetings. Our focus is determined at the start of each year and this year, our ‘deep dive’ subjects are ‘whole family support’ and ‘the workforce’. However, we are continually considering the changing landscape as it relates to the so-called care ‘system’, and often invite external stakeholders to join our meetings to keep us informed on developments in the sector.

As part of Oversight Board’s remit, we produce a yearly report, two of which have been published so far. From these, it is clear that at a grassroots level, in local authorities, and across all sectors, there is much being done to deliver change for Scotland’s children and young people. Some recent developments that we have been pleased to see are the Children’s Hearings Scotland redesign recommendations, and the inclusion of The Promise in local authority implementation plans.

To understand how these changes are being experienced, we also work hard to understand the data behind them. We do this because that is what is most important to the group, that each of us in the care community feels that change in our lives. Again, nothing less will do.

That being said, our reports are both honest and challenging, with the most current having issued calls to action for faster change, as more needs to happen and at a faster rate if the deadline of 2030 is to be met.

‘We are charged with telling the story of Scotland’s progress towards keeping The Promise’

As we work towards producing our third report – due next Spring (2024) – we will see a third of the members of our group leave as they come to the end of their term; a third will stay on for an extra year, and a third will leave this coming January. This offers a new opportunity for new members to add skills, competences, and experience that will help support the necessary change, and a way to play a part in helping to ensure The Promise is kept. So, I’d like to take the opportunity here to reach out to those who wish to participate and lend their support to the important work we do. If you’re from the care community and interested, get your applications in!

The Oversight Board welcomes applicants with an interest in, but not exclusive to, education, poverty, homelessness, and front-line practice delivery. We continue to value, above all, lived experience of Scotland’s care ‘system’. So, if – like me – you have that experience and want to be involved then I urge you to get in touch. We particularly welcome applications from young people from diverse backgrounds - your voice needs to be heard. These are paid opportunities, support is available throughout and beyond your tenure, and you will never be asked to tell your own story. We are charged with telling the story of Scotland’s progress towards keeping The Promise, not our own.

Join the Oversight Board and share your experience and expertise

As the co-chair of the current Oversight Board, it is a privilege to be in this position and a mark of how far we have come in ensuring the voice of lived experience is central to driving the change we all seek. I would be absolutely delighted if another care experienced person applied to join the board and was interested in joining me as the second co-chair. If you’re interested in this particular position, then please say so on your application.

Together we can use our voice to articulate the desires of the care community – as set out in The Promise reports - where it needs to be heard. So, what are you waiting for? Apply now and come and work with us to ensure Scotland can keep its promise. It can, and must, be done.

Apply to join The Promise Oversight Board:

Read more about the recruitment of Oversight Board members:


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