2018 is the Year of Young People and their interests were the subject of the second conference to be held in Orkney entitled: Growing Up In Orkney.
The event was led by Andrew Lowe Chair of Orkney’s Child Protection Committee with key note speakers:
- Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s Children and Young Person’s Commissioner
- Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
Over 150 people across many disciplines and organisations involved in delivering services in Orkney attended with workshops sharing good practice being led by those in the islands.
The Rights of the Child
The United Nations Rights of the Child is a legally binding international agreement.
The Scottish Government uses “the UNCRC as a framework to ensure that we consider children’s rights whenever we take decisions, and to help guarantee every child a good start in life with a safe, healthy and happy childhood.”
It forms the basis for Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC).
Scotland has a Commissioner for Children and Young People – Bruce Adamson. He is independent of any political parties or of Government.
Scotland’s Youth Parliament
Scotland’s Young People can vote in local elections and those to the Scottish Parliament at age 16. A very important part in civil society is the role of young people who are given a formal voice through elections to Scotland’s Youth Parliament. It is a company limited by guarantee with a Board of Trustees.
Elections to the SYP take place every two years with eligible candidates being from 14 – 25.
The MSYPs who currently represent Orkney are Jack Norquoy and Calum McArthur.
It has about 150 MSYPs who are elected in their local areas with others appointed from voluntary organisations.
The conference was an excellent example of people working across the sector to deliver services to Children , Young People and Families allowing participants to share their experiences during the workshop sessions.
“How Do We Realise Children’s Rights in the Context of the Care System?”
Professor Jennifer Adamson centred her key note speech around the importance of relationships. She cited 3 examples where real transformative change occurs with relationships not systems.
“Creating a world where children facing adversity have what they need to reach their full potential.”
She gave delegates questions to think about:
- where there is tension between what a young person wants and what is considered to be in their best interest
- where in our big systems we can lose the fundamental importance of relationships
- how do we move on people who should not be working with children – the recruitment and selection of staff
In failures that occur in our current delivery of services within our systems she raised the issue of families only being seen once they were in a crisis and not before when interventions and support may have averted this.
Professor Adamson also referred to areas of multi deprivation where there are so many services that are not inter connected that they fail to deliver in the way that would be most beneficial to those in need. And of those services which are not primarily for children but whose delivery affects them: “we cannot do this alone”.
The Theme of Relationships was the core to her talk.
“The quality of a placement and in particular the quality of the child’s relationship with carers within that placement is by far the most important influence on children’s welfare, well being and happiness”
This was an important conference for Orkney and will hopefully inspire those attending to know that they are valued and supported in the work they do. Connecting up services is ‘doable’ in a community the size of Orkney with ‘Growing Up In Orkney’ a good place to kick it off.
Youtube link to all 4 interviews: Growing up in Orkney Conference 2018
Reporter: Fiona Grahame