Membership Spotlight – Who Cares? Scotland

Every fortnight we highlight the work of our member organisations and outline how other individuals and NGOs can support them. To celebrate Care Day 2021 (today, 19th February!), we are sharing a blog post about our member Who Cares? Scotland. Care Day aims to:

  • Celebrate: Shift public attitudes on Care Experienced people’s lives.
  • Connect: Bring together the Care Experienced community with their allies and corporate parents to talk about how we can ensure Care Experienced people get the love, rights and relationships they deserve.
  • Communicate: Motivate the Care Experienced community, their allies and corporate parents to share their celebrations, show their commitments and ignite discussion.

You can read more about Care Day 2021 on Who Cares? Scotland’s website.

Tell us about the work of Who Cares? Scotland?

Who Cares? Scotland is a rights-based influencing organisation working with people who have experience of the care system through individual and collective independent advocacy. We aim to provide Care Experienced people with knowledge of their rights and the support needed to empower them to positively participate in the formal structures and processes they are often subject to solely because of their care experience.

What projects are you currently working on?

Who Cares? Scotland is striving to secure a lifetime of equality, respect and love for Care Experienced people and we do this in many ways. Locally, our advocacy and participation teams work alongside our members to influence changes around issues like mental health, education and contact with family. We also make sure these local experiences and member views shape our national influencing work, through our Annual Participation Programme which creates opportunities for our Care Experienced members to share their views about important topics and policy areas. We are currently finalising a report of findings from what our members have shared about their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as continuing to influence the process of incorporating the UNCRC into Scots Law by sharing our member’s views on human rights.

How do you support children and families to learn about their rights?

Our organisation provides independent individual and collective advocacy to Care Experienced people across Scotland and a crucial part of that work is supporting individuals to understand their rights, especially in the care system but also in all areas of their lives. We create campaigns and participation opportunities for our wider membership to learn about their rights, as well as influencing change about how they could be better protected. We also have a helpline open to all Care Experienced people, as a source of advice and support.

How can children and young people make their views heard to influence your work?

We have participation groups across the country where members can come together to speak about change they want to see, for example in groups such as Champions Boards. Our Care Experienced members can also participate in national opportunities through our Annual Participation Programme. These opportunities are open to any member to share their views and we create policy positions from these, which we make sure are heard by those in power and shapes how our organisation influences change.

Does Who Cares? Scotland influence policy development on issues affecting children and young people?

Yes, Who Cares? Scotland has an active role in shaping national and local policy development across many areas because care experience can impact any part of someone’s life. We have worked to influence many different policy issues over the years, but some recent examples include protecting relationships of brothers and sisters (as part of the fantastic Stand Up For Siblings), access and writing of care records and working to stop the criminalisation of Care Experienced children. We were also involved with the Independent Care Review and are supporting The Promise going forward, to make sure longer-term changes are made to the care system in Scotland.

What do you enjoy most about being a member of Together?

We love being part of Together because we can join forces with other like-minded, passionate, and rights-focused organisations to achieve changes collectively. Together has an incredible way of organising collaborative efforts for lobbying and bringing together joint supportive actions to influence policy development, which looks to embed a children’s rights focus across all policy areas in Scotland. It has been especially valuable how Together has supported us and other organisations to engage with the campaign to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law.

How can other organisations or individuals get involved or support your work?

Any person with care experience can join our organisation for free as a ‘family member’ or if you want to get involved but aren’t Care Experienced, you can sign up as a ‘Friend’ – both ways of joining Who Cares? Scotland are available on our website here. We also provide independent advocacy services across Scotland and take referrals for advocacy through our website.

Nationally we campaign and communicate our work through our social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so please follow us and learn more about what we do. As a charity, individuals and organisations can also support us by donating or sponsoring our work, more information is available here.

Finally, if your organisation was an animal what would it be?

I think our organisation would be a cockatoo, because they make great companions (apparently they’re a popular pet choice!) and as an organisation that builds relationships and connections with the Care Experienced community, that seems pretty important. But, I chose a cockatoo because we can also make a bit of a racket and be noisy when we need to be on behalf of our members to create the change they want to see – and it’s pretty hard to ignore a parrot once it gets going!

Imagine of a cockatoo which as white feathers along its body, a black beak, blue eyes and a yellow feather flicking out from its head.
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

Finally, to get involved in and show your support for Care Day 2021 you can participate in the #CareDay21 selfie challenge – just write #CareDay 21 and the city you’re in on the palm of your hand, take a selfie, share it and tag Who Cares? Scotland on social media!

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