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Stories of Change – inspiring us to keep the Promise

Lucy Madigan, Change Delivery Manager

My fellow Change Delivery Manager Fiona Perrie and I attended the Stories of Change conference on 5 February, hosted by The Promise Scotland.

The conference coincided with the fourth anniversary of the publication of the Independent Care Review. Since its publication, there has been consistent cross-party commitment to delivering The Promise, with an investment of £500 million (this Whole Family Wellbeing Funding has supported programmes including the Care Leavers Fund, Bairn’s Hoose and the Keeping the Promise Award). 

The promise is an inspirational call to action with the needs and rights of care experienced people at its core. 

The day started with presentations from Natalie Don MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise (you can read her full speech on the government website), and Councillor Tony Buchanan, COSLA’s children and young people spokesman.

Care experienced voices

Next on stage was Laura Beveridge, Promise Delivery Partner, who spoke powerfully about her own experience of care. You can read and watch more about Laura’s experiences and passion in an Aspire to More interview and her TEDx talk, ‘Kids in care: let’s start a revolution’.

We then had a panel discussion with care experienced employees, called Lived and Professional Experience: Exploring Identity in Practice. The panel highlighted that people often don’t identify as care experienced, for several reasons including the stigma involved, understanding triggers and that their lived experience is not all that they bring.

The diversity of the care experienced community is its greatest asset and these communities engage when they see positive outcomes resulting from being listened to. Collaboration needs to continue as care experiences change over time and new stories emerge.

All those on stage shared their hope of shared ambitions and goals, including structural and educational changes.  

Beth-Anne Logan, a member of the discussion panel and a Board Member of Children’s Hearings Scotland, encapsulated her own mission by saying: ‘Our yesterdays will not become another young person’s tomorrow.’

The CHS conference poster that was on display at the event

CHS's conference poster as seen at the event

View a PDF of our conference poster.

Family Group Decision Making

I attended the breakout session called ‘Whole Family Support’. We heard from Children 1st on the process of Family Group Decision Making. This allows families to come together in a blame-free setting, to try to make a plan to support a child or young person. The decision-making power shifts to the family members and solutions are provided by the people closest to the child or young person.  

Returns on early investment

We also heard from the Health and Social Care Partnership at Glasgow City Council. Glasgow has seen a reduction of 54% of children and young people in care since 2016 as a result of investment in early prevention and whole family approaches. GCC has had to think differently about how it approaches service provision, moving from a ‘risk and remove’ approach to a strength-based approach. The council is committed to investing £50 million over the next seven years, which will sit alongside its Whole Family Wellbeing Fund. 

Reframing the discourse

The breakout session Fiona attended was ‘Each & Every Child Initiative: Framing in Practice’. This initiative focused on research outside the care system, assessing Scottish public attitudes of care and people in care. Key views found in the research were that care experience people were damaged individuals, that the system was broken, and individuals were to blame for making poor choices. However, it also found the majority of people in Scotland do care. 

Each and Every Child’s framing toolkit helps change the understanding of care, which is the first step to removing stigma. For example, looking at wider society issues such as poverty or bereavement rather than focusing on individual blame. We all have power as communicators, in the choices we make about how we share stories and the impact this has. 

Following the breakout sessions all attendees came back together to hear from Sharon McGhee, member of the Independent Oversight board.  

The Independent Oversight Board holds Scotland and the delivery of The Promise to account. There are 21 members, half of whom are care experienced. Its second report was published in June 2023, and it is meeting again this month, when it will look at thematic issues and barriers.

Next up was Laurie Goldie, of Who Cares? Scotland, where she is Project Manager for ‘Communities that Care’. She focused on the relationships found in communities and how they (or the lack of them) impact children and young people. The work undertaken has initially focused on schools and how the right scaffolding improves educational outcomes. 

On track for 2030

The final speaker was Fiona Duncan, Chair of The Promise Scotland, who promoted the launch of Plan 24-30. The plan, due to be published in June, will cover the actions Scotland needs to take to meet the 2030 Promise deadline. 

Fiona emphasised great progress has been made in the last four years, while some areas have fallen behind. Nonetheless, she is confident that we can get back on track and deliver everything we need to by 2030.

Any thoughts, comments or questions can be directed to

Privileged to support change

Fiona and I are new to CHS and were motivated to join the team last year because of the vision and ambition for change.

The conference was an excellent opportunity for us to listen closely to people with important and impactful things to say about their experience, lived, professional or both.

Our Change and Innovation team will be in a privileged position to be involved with change across CHS and beyond – all anchored on the impact it will have for children and families.

The Stories of Change Conference was such a valuable opportunity for us to listen and connect. 

Search #StoriesOfChange and #KeepThePromise for insights from other attendees. 

Main image by Callum Bennetts/Maverick Photo Agency