Maree Todd: Success of Scotland’s Baby Box

Maree ToddScotland’s Baby Box, piloted so successfully in Orkney last year, has this week reached the milestone of welcoming 50,000 babies into the world.

I was delighted when the SNP made the introduction of the boxes one of its manifesto pledges, and it was great that Orkney families were among the first in Scotland to start receiving this very positive gift, showing that every baby is warmly welcomed.

The baby box – an adaptation of the successful Finnish model – is playing a major role in realising our wider government ambition of giving all our children the best possible start in life. It already has a proven track record in tackling deprivation, improving health and supporting parents. As Minister for Children and Young People – and simply as a parent – I look forward to seeing the very real benefits it brings for Scotland’s future generations.

There’s nothing better than to hear parents’ enthusiasm and gratitude for the contents of their box. By happy coincidence I was in a shop in Kirkwall earlier this year when a young dad, in conversation with a couple who it turned out were expecting their first child, was speaking very highly of the contents of the box he and his partner had received. I couldn’t help but smile at hearing him say that his boy slept more in the box than anywhere else.

Of course the Baby Box hasn’t been universally welcomed. In my ministerial role I’ve had to defend it against some ludicrous attacks. Who would have thought, for example, that a cardboard box would burn when it is deliberately set on fire, as one tabloid newspaper decided to do?

Health experts have a more positive view of the potential of the boxes though, and I welcome the recent publication by the Royal College of Midwives of a new position statement setting out its support for universal roll-out of baby boxes across the UK. The RCM recognises the boxes can be a positive significant investment in early years and can contribute to reducing inequality.

The birth of a child is one important milestone in life for many. Another is the arrival of exam results…

As pupils in Orkney receive their results this week, it’s important to remember that there is no wrong path in life. I remember well the feeling of rejection I experienced when I didn’t even get a conditional to study pharmacy at the University of Strathclyde. I went on to gain a first class honours degree at The Robert Gordon University, and seem to have done fine since then!

Success comes to those who persevere. Identify your passion, then work towards that – and you will be on the right path. I’m in constant awe of the amazing things young folk are doing in their own communities, advocating on behalf of others who may not have a voice, and campaigning on so many issues.

Don’t get hung up on your results – recognise the many positive things you can do with your life.

This is a regular column by local MSP and Minister  for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, SNP. All the political parties for list MSPs have been offered the same column space in The Orkney News.

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