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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Children’s charity is still changing lives 60 years after it opened

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Action For Children Scotland is celebrating its diamond anniversary

On September 10 1955 the National Children’s Home launched its first ever service at Cathkin House.

An old mansion in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, Cathkin was originally a home to around 30 vulnerable children, who were looked after by a house sister or house mother. Latterly, it added hostel accommodation for working-age teenagers in the 1970s.

60 years later, Cathkin House is no longer used as a children’s home and the building has been sold and converted into luxury flats, but the charity survives, now under the name Action For Children Scotland, part of the UK wide Action For Children group.

Now working with 14,000 vulnerable children and young people, Action for Children Scotland runs 90 services tackling issues such as youth unemployment to child poverty and homelessness. It also provides support for looked after children and children in residential care who could be affected by parental drug and alcohol misuse or who offend or are at risk of offending.

Its work has become integral to Scottish society and a reception was held at the Scottish Parliament earlier this month to celebrate its diamond anniversary.

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Scotland’s director of children’s services told TFN the organisation was proud to celebrate the milestone year.

“We help transform the lives of thousands of children and young people each year and we’ve been doing so for 60 years,” he said.

“Young people really are at the heart of all the work that we do. We pride ourselves on knowing that not only do we listen and advocate on their behalf but that we also make them an active and real part of our organisation.

“We are proud to have developed programmes that have influenced service delivery across the United Kingdom.”

One of Action for Children’s most celebrated programmes is its intensive family support service Dundee Families.

This project prevents homelessness by offering support to families who are in crisis as a result of anti-social behaviour, or whose circumstances are such that they are considered to be vulnerable and in need of assistance.

Its success, Carberry explained, has influenced the creation of other intensive family support services across the UK - including the 2006 UK-wide government run Respect Agenda aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.

“These type of programmes are so successful because they empower families to make decisions for themselves and take control of their lives in order to achieve the best outcomes for their children,” he said.

Most recently Action for Children Scotland has also been involved in the roll out of the innovative Roots of Empathy programme.

Launched north of the border, this evidence-based classroom programme involves a baby and its parent visiting a primary class throughout the school year to raise levels of empathy amongst classmates. Activities and discussions are delivered that are designed to help pupils understand their own feelings, the feelings of others, reduce levels of aggression and tackle childhood bullying.

And it seems to be working. A report by North Lanarkshire Council’s psychological services showed that among children involved 59% saw an improvement in their understanding of feelings while 56% saw an increase in self-awareness and people skills.

As well as working directly with young people, Action for Children Scotland also campaigns to improve policy and legislation.

Its work covers a wide range of areas including child protection, children's rights and citizenship issues, youth justice, disability, and health and wellbeing.

“At Action for Children Scotland we recognise that there is still much work to be done,” Carberry added.

“We won’t stop looking for the best solutions to better the lives of children and young people and ensure they receive the best chance to fulfil their potential and make the most of their lives.”

For more pictures from Action For Children Scotland's archives view our gallery here.

60 Years of Action For Children Scotland

Children’s charity is still changing lives 60 years after it opened

​1955 - Cathkin House opens

1966 - Archie Briggs House opens in Pitlochry

1984 - Tullibody Families opens

1986 - Merkinch Family Resource Project, Inverness, opens and NCH takes over the management of Slessor Youth YP Dundee

1992- Dundee Stopover (aka Youth Housing Support Service) opens

1993 - Dundee ATC and Upper Nithsdale open

1994 - Inverclyde ATC opens

1995 - North Lanarkshire Young Carers opens

1996 - Caps, Dundee Families, Highland Intensive Probation and Moray Residential Services open

1997 - Western Isles Services opens and Alnes Family Service and Lochaber Family Service opens

1998- Youth Justice Services open and Moray Family Support Service started

1999 - Lisalanna Service opens in Cumnock

2001 - Gael Og Intensive Support Service opens

2003- GENR8 Housing Support Opens and ISSC (Ayrshire) set up with funding from ISF and Fast Track

2004- Ayrshire's first residential placement and first foster placement

2005 - Silverton Short Breaks and Aberdeen Family Service open

2006 - UK government roles out Intensive Family Support Services as part of RESPECT agenda, based on the model developed in Dundee in 1996

2008 - North Glasgow Family Support Team established

2013 - Family Wellbeing Partnership opens

2014 - Moray Care Farming opens

2015 - Action For Children celebrates 60 years in Scotland, opens Clifton Road Service Aberdeen and revamps Gilmerton Road