Laura Dover
Everyone’s Children Development Worker 

On the 9th November 2018, the Citywide Forum for Children, Young People and Families welcomed Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People, to a networking event with colleagues and partners from the third and public sector. The event aims were to reflect on the work of the forum since its inception two years ago and to improve engagement with the Forum within the sector to support its future work.

The Development of the Citywide Forum

Eddie Kane, chair of the Citywide Forum, talked about the development of the Forum and the challenges it faced. It was created to provide collective, consistent and meaningful third sector representation on local and citywide committees and strategic planning groups about children’s services. It also aims to share information and influence policy.

The structure of the Forum was a co-production process and it now has a steering group and four sub-groups focusing on particular areas:

  • Family Support;
  • Early Learning and Childcare;
  • Child Protection
  • Communications and Membership.

The number and diversity of third sector organisations in the city is a challenge, along with the fact that many are very small or very stretched. The structure of the Forum allows to people to engage at various levels: in the steering group, in the sub-groups, attending events or simply receiving and responding to information through the mailing list.

Eddie said that the statutory sector have largely treated the Forum as an equal partner and encouraged it to provide representation on various groups. There is a real sense that the third sector is being heard.

Ministerial speech

In her keynote speech, Maree Todd MSP paid tribute to the third sector as the “key to the success of the country” and their dedication to delivering the best possible services for children and young people. She said that the Scottish Government was affirming its commitment to the sector by maintaining its budget at £24.5m. ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ (GIRFEC) was described as “the cornerstone of provision for children and young people” which empowers services and families to address wellbeing issues at an early stage. This has a significant impact in later life as it can help to break the cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

The Minister said that she is committed to listening to the voices and experiences of children to help to shape policy and services. In particular, children and young people with additional support needs have a right to have those needs identified, assessed and met.

Through partnerships, the Minister said, “our education system can match our aspirations”. Schools have already been using pupil equity funding to put counselling services in place and the role of school nurses is to be strengthened. Greater provision for mental health in the community will also help to reduce the burden on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by ensuring there is alternative care for children and young people who are inappropriately referred and to ensure diagnoses are not delayed by long waiting lists.

The Minister went on to state that the Scottish Government is tackling child poverty through a £12m investment in employability and an income supplement for low income families. In the Year of Young People, the Scottish Government is making efforts to support youth volunteering and examining ways to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law and policy.

The Minister concluded by encouraging the third sector to continue to make its voice heard, by responding to consultations and calls for evidence, and affirmed the importance of the sector in “empowering each citizen on the ground”.

Workshops

The event included a number of workshops, some themed around the sub-groups of the Citywide Forum.

  • The Family Support workshop gave an update on the emergent Glasgow Family Support Strategy and GCHSCP mapping project, as well as details of how the Forum has contributed to the strategy.
  • The Early Learning and Childcare workshop discussed the challenges for third sector nurseries with the expansion to 1140 hours.
  • A workshop on child protection highlighted the positive co-operation between the Citywide Forum and the Child Protection Committee in providing training on attending case conferences and sharing good practice.
  • Members of staff working on the Big Lottery Consortium in the North East – a partnership between social work and the third sector with the aim of reducing the number of looked after children – provided a session on how this model could be replicated in other areas.
  • A session on Universal Credit provided timely advice on how to support families through the rollout of full service in Glasgow

Summary

Eddie Kane summed up the event by thanking the Everyone’s Children team for their support, both in supporting the Citywide Forum and organizing the event. He also thanked everyone who facilitated a workshop at the event and to Maree Todd MSP for providing a keynote speech.

The Citywide Forum steering group are delighted that a number of people have expressed interest in joining the steering group and subgroups and encourages anyone who is interested in taking part to get in touch by emailing citywideforum@gcvs.org.uk.