Power to the people: being part of the change for care experienced children and their brothers and sisters
A Consultants Working Group was instrumental on helping to shape the content, tone and language of Scotland’s new National Practice Guidance to support the rights of care experienced children and their brothers and sisters in Scotland. Here, one of the consultants Saffron Rohan, discusses the process of contributing to the development of the guidance, and the importance of listening to and embedding lived experience in changes to policy and practice.
The National Practice Guidance to support new legislative changes to support the rights of care experienced brothers and sisters in Scotland was developed with huge amounts of valuable input, some coming from a small consultants working group. Our role was to input on the development and shaping of this guidance, ensuring children’s rights were met and fully understood by all. We wanted to make sure that those working with young people were able to offer the best possible practice and support to allow these valuable and meaningful relationships to grow and flourish.
Many of you will know already how important our relationships with our brothers and sisters are; the love, the challenges, the joy, and support they give us, and it is our hope that this guidance is a step towards giving all young people the opportunity to maintain and develop these invaluable relationships (with support where needed). It has been a great experience and we are hugely proud of the finished guidance. As consultants with lived experience we sincerely believe that we offer a unique perspective. By using both our professional and personal experience to contribute meaningfully into this guidance, we tried to ensure it has young people and their best interests at the centre and works to bridge the gap between policy and practice.
Having this lived experience perspective is incredibly helpful in ensuring policy and practice are designed in such a way to ensure positive pathways for our children and young people. In this instance, the lived experience perspective represents the reality of what impact this separation has on children. Any policy work could benefit from opening up and allowing those who are most affected by the issues at hand to play a role in shaping not just how we do things, but how we do things better, to empower and support individuals, and create policy and practice that truly has a positive impact on people’s lives.
To talk a little to what the process was like as a consultant, it was a great experience. CELCIS approached us with the opportunity and it was a big piece of work so naturally I was a little apprehensive and didn’t quite know what to expect. However, this didn’t last long as CELCIS were great. They had set up a series of writing workshops, the first of which they used to help us gain a more in depth understanding of policy background and relevant changes. Overall the sessions were very friendly and informal, although still structured and somewhat focused. They allowed time to build relationships and chat at the start of sessions and staff were hugely encouraging and supportive. We had the opportunity to choose which parts of the guidance to focus on and were able to really use some of our experience to inform the structure and content in some areas. Seeing the finished result made us very proud and humbled to have been a part of something with the potential to make lives better and ensure young people in care have the same opportunity to nurture sibling relationships as everyone else.
It was fantastic to input into this guidance and have the opportunity to attend the writing sessions, supporting its development with our thoughts and experience. We worked well together as consultants, not to mention it was great to work with by the policy team at CELCIS, who were very supportive throughout the process. It is my hope is that this guidance will give practitioners the knowledge and direction to ensure children’s rights are continuously upheld and these crucial and meaningful relationships are supported to flourish.
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