Charlie Mcfarlane is Policy Assistant at Who Cares? Scotland, a national voluntary organisation who works alongside care experienced children and young people across Scotland. Charlie joined Who Cares? Scotland in 2016 after completing the Reaching Higher employment programme for care experienced young people. Charlie works to deliver real change for Scotland’s care experienced young people to ensure they live a life they control, deserve and are proud of. Charlie, alongside his two colleagues Alicia and Lynzy, delivered a workshop on March 20th at the UNCRC in Practice — the second in a SUII seminar series exploring the UNCRC in Scotland. They spoke about the 1,000 Voices Campaign and the participation approaches used by Who Cares? Scotland to meaningfully engage young people and their supporters.
I was really happy to be part of The Who Cares? Scotland (WC?S) team of three care experienced staff members to deliver a workshop at the UNCRC in Practice seminar. We used this opportunity to challenge prejudices that are held about care experienced individuals, inform delegates about the work WC?S does and to also discuss WC?S’ participation methods and the 1,000 Voices Campaign.
I spent a lot of time preparing for our workshop which was fun but also challenging at times as I had so many things I wanted to say so it was hard to restrict myself with a script! However, the support from my colleagues and co-presenters, Lynzy and Alicia was great. We all understand the challenges that each other might face so we always try to encourage each other to believe in ourselves and in our professional abilities.
The day of the SUII seminar was so exciting, the room was full of children, young people and professionals from lots of different organisations. I was nervous but as I met more and more people I realised that my views were respected and that everything I was going to say would be valued. Hearing Gerison Lansdown sharing her knowledge and experience of children’s rights and participation was fascinating.
Delivering the WC?S workshop was a fantastic opportunity and I thought it was great to see all of the adults and young people in the room simply listening to what we had to say; I felt really respected. I particularly enjoyed our quiz which we wrote with the aim of challenging stereotypes. It was also interesting to hear what the delegates’ hopes for 1,000 Voices are. One of the delegate’s hopes that really struck a chord with me was that 1,000 Voices would challenge the stigmas that care experienced young people face everyday. I also hope that 1,000 Voices will challenge stigmas and open the eyes of the public so that they realise that care experienced children and young people are not to be written off but championed.
I really enjoyed participating in the other workshops. It was so powerful to see the children from the Children’s Parliament come and deliver a game-based workshop and give such great input. Children from the Children’s Parliament joined each table and it was amazing to hear their views. After spending some time talking about his hobbies and interests, Joseph gave us a real insight in to how he felt his opinions and views were valued and respected. He spoke about how he enjoyed being a part of Children’s Parliament and creating his poster that said ‘stop bullying’. You can become an Unfeartie to support them!
The Scottish Youth Parliament session was extremely informative and insightful. I did not have much knowledge about them before their workshop, so it was such a great opportunity to learn from Fiona and Mahnoor about their roles at SYP and also about what SYP does and are going to do.
I think that the day went amazingly and I had such a great time learning from the other organisations about the work they do. I think that the amount of knowledge and experience that can be shared in one room by people with shared interests is amazing. I hope that everyone was able to take as much away from the conference as I did.
Thank you to Charlie, Alicia and Lynzy for taking part in the series! To find out more about the UNCRC in Scotland seminar series, visit Together’s webpage here.