Boards to be set up across Scotland to give young people a greater say in their future
Young people in Scotland with experience of the care system are to be given a bigger say on decisions made about their future thanks to a new £2.3 million fund.
The Life Changes Trust, established in 2013 by the Big Lottery Fund, has made the money available for the development of what is known as "champions boards" across the country.
With around 16,000 looked after children and young people in Scotland the boards will act as a place for young people, supporters and representatives and local authorities to discuss and make decisions on an agenda set by the young people themselves.
The boards are a unique way of tackling the challenges facing those with care experience as they bring the different groups involved in the care system together but empower and trust the young people to have an influence on their own life.
Currently those with care experience are said to be more likely to suffer an early death or suicide, have worse mental health and physical well-being, are more likely to become a teenage parent, have poorer access to continuing education or training, are less likely to have a job and are more likely to be homeless.
Care experienced young people have already demonstrated what they can achieve with their amazing work influencing the Children and Young People Act
Heather Coady, director of the trust’s care experienced young people programme, said: “Care experienced young people have already demonstrated what they can achieve with their amazing work influencing the Children and Young People Act.
“Champions boards are also about empowering care experienced young people on an ongoing basis, so their views about how their lives could be improved and their priorities for change are heard and acted upon by those with responsibility for ensuring their well-being.
“Care experienced young people have enormous potential to shape their lives and those of their peers for the better. Champions boards provide a distinctive and powerful way of harnessing this potential. They also provide decision makers and service providers with a way of working with young people to achieve transformational and sustainable improvements in their lives and the services that support them.”
A successful champions board model is already underway in Dundee and other local authorities are also taking an interest, with some in the early stages of developing their own boards.
David Martin, Dundee City Council chief executive and chair of Dundee's champions board, welcomed the launch of the roll out by the Life Changes Trust.
"My experience of the champions board in Dundee has been hugely positive, particularly in the commitment, knowledge and skills of the care experienced children and young people who form the backbone of the approach in our city.
"The input from the young person's participation group is what makes Dundee's champions board tick.”