Our diversity is our strength CrossReach Children’s Services are in a unique position - as part of a diverse organisation, we can draw on the wide variety of skills and experience within substance misuse, homelessness, older people, mental health, learning disabilities and criminal justice. We are a national organisation with the potential to deliver services in any area of Scotland as a result of our parish network, and indeed, we are currently working with almost all of the 32 local authorities and health boards across Scotland. Often the benefit to children comes from the help
Evidencing our impact Following the publication of the report ’Getting it Right for Children in Residential Care’ by Audit Scotland at the beginning of September 2010, CrossReach decided to commission a study.
we give to their parents. CrossReach’s recent work through the Bluebell campaign to help people with postnatal depression is testimony to that. However, we must not be complacent. There are statistics that confirm that there are still children in Scotland living well below the poverty line – even worse off than children in former eastern European countries; we read from reports that many children in Scotland are unable to read or write, and indeed, employers who prefer to recruit from abroad because our own young people do not have the skills or motivation to work.
It’s not rocket science! As Professor Susan Deacon highlighted in her ‘Join the Dots’ report, throughout this project I have encouraged people to share their ideas on what practical improvements can be made as well as sharing examples and insights on what is working or could work better in the future. Some of the key themes and ideas are captured above but there are a host of other things that have been suggested along the way. Time and again, the phrase ‘common sense’ has been used reflecting a clear appetite, and willingness, to address the issue of improving children’s early years in a grounded and practical way.
Hope, understanding and belonging At the heart of our work is the philosophy that the earlier the intervention, the greater the life chances for those children so CrossReach is delighted that through the Early Years Action Fund, the Scottish Government is beginning to re-direct funds towards supporting children and their families from birth onwards. CrossReach HUBs, working with children and
“Children, young people and families have a range of skills to draw on to resolve difficulties and to develop coping strategies”
CrossReach acknowledges the privilege and responsibility that is placed with us in looking after other people’s children and we want to ensure that we do this as effectively as possible. All we have at the moment is anecdotal evidence. This study, commissioned through the Centre for Excellence for Looked after Children in Scotland, Strathclyde University, will look at pupils at the two CrossReach schools, from five years ago and current pupils for the next five years and see how they are faring.
Celebrations To celebrate ten years of ‘Include me in’, former pupils and their families, former staff, those currently commissioning ‘Include me in’ services and many friends and neighbours were invited to a birthday party at Ballikinrain Castle on 3 October. All of the ‘boys’
reported that his ambition now would be to work at Ballikinrain! Darren, now a proud father and motivated by
now in their twenties, some with children of their own, acknowledged that although they had experienced some difficulties when they left Ballikinrain, it had been a ‘life-changing experience.’ Danny
his strong desire that his son will not suffer as he did, acknowledges the lessons he learned while at Ballikinrain and when he passes someone in the street with whom he had ‘issues’, he just keeps going. Comments from those in the audience, many fighting back a tear, were, ‘Include me in’ works but we cannot be complacent. Films recorded the loneliness and isolation that
the boys’ experienced and still do and the fact that none had been able to secure work. We need to draw upon the resources within our parishes to ensure that those leaving our (formal) care continue to feel supported by their neighbours and engaged in employment.
families in the poorest areas of Scotland, are part of our strategy. Support will include play, parenting, health clinics, literacy, numeracy and education. We are delighted that as a result of investment from Inspiring Scotland, CrossReach will open its first HUB in November 2011 offering a ‘one-stop shop’ where families can access the varied support that they need from one agency without having to tell their story over and over again. The Glasgow HUB will operate from the Glasgow Elim Church in Govanhill.
The future Work is currently under way from the Geilsland campus, which focuses mainly on vocational training, looking at employability issues, linking the Curriculum for Excellence to business. It is difficult for young people in Scotland to find employment; it is even more difficult, as we heard from our former pupils at Ballikinrain. What we are looking at are the skills we need to teach our pupils that will enhance their opportunities for employment. We are also looking for employers, large businesses and individuals across Scotland, who would offer employment and provide support. Odds are stacked against them, with rising unemployment, more children in care and budget cuts but we want to drive social change to ensure our children get a better start in life.
CrossReach is the social care arm of the Church of Scotland
31 October 2011 / Holyrood / 17
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