1000 Voices Manifesto

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1000 Voices -our ambition to create the most caring nation in the world-

Dear future first minister... We’re care experienced people and you are our parent. 15,580 of us are in care at present and including those who have left care, we make up around 0.5% of the population. You might know us as “looked after children” because that’s what the law defines us as. We prefer care experienced. The vast, vast majority of us are in care because we have experienced neglect and abuse. Many of us stay at home and social workers are involved in our lives. Some of us stay in kinship care with a member of our own family. Some of us live with a foster family and some of us live in a residential care setting. Unfortunately, many care experienced people experience stigma and discrimination. We want to live in a Scotland where care experienced people have the same chances as everyone else and feel like they belong. We think that the next Scottish Government has an incredible opportunity to do that.

Our outcomes Despite the best efforts and hard work of those delivering care for decades, our outcomes have not changed. We’re more likely to be homeless, ill and unemployed. We’re less likely to be in school, at university or settled in a community. If these outcomes were replicated in living rooms up and down Scotland, parents would be outraged. These are our outcomes and you are our parent. Are you outraged?

A Coalition of hope We saw the Scottish Parliament at its best when it united around care experienced young people to pass the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. 21 young people, supported by Barnardo’s Scotland, Aberlour Child Care Trust and Who Cares? Scotland, told MSPs about their lives . They did it in the hope that there could be something better. They gave evidence at Committee, they met MSPs and Ministers gave them an equal seat at the table. That led to the boldest legislation for care experienced young people in a generation. It led to the coalition winning awards for their bravery. And it led to a movement of care experienced people across Scotland determined to make care better for those who will come after them.

A movement of CHANGE We need to stop care experienced people’s potential being wasted. The outcomes are bad for us and they are bad for Scotland. We truly believe this document is a road map to equality for care experienced people. There’s some things that you can do as soon as you take office that will help make the ambitions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 a reality. We’ve also outlined the key issues in Education, Health, Housing and Employment that we face and the questions that need asked to make them better. Real, meaningful change in our lives is only made when our voice is heard, individually and collectively. This isn’t about altering parts of a system or making a process run more smoothly. This is about the Government, our parent, understanding who we are and doing what it takes to make sure we succeed. It’s what every other parent does for their own children. So please do it for us.

Your to do list: Listening to 1000 care experienced voices will be crucial in delivering the change that we need. The last Government started some really important work to make our lives better but it isn’t finished yet. 

Let young people return to care and extend aftercare

We told you that we don’t always leave care at the right time and that sometimes, we wish we were able to go back. Other parents don’t ever close the door on their children and we don’t think you should. The last Government listened and said it would explore how the door could be kept open for us when we need it. In the next Parliament, we want you to finish that exploration. Then we want you to tell us how we can create a Scotland where care experienced young people know and feel they always have somewhere to go that they are loved and cared for. 

Make sure young people who are looked after at home get the support they need

Many of us are still staying at home with our parent/s but have social workers involved in our lives. Our outcomes are particularly bad, our circumstances can often be very different and that means we’re not reaching our potential. The last Government committed to understanding us more and said it would make sure that we are cared for in a way that reflects our needs. In the next Parliament, we want you to listen to those of us who are looked after at home and ensure we have the right support at the right time. 

Realise the potential of the wood commission

Getting and keeping a job can be really hard when you have few qualifications, little support and hardly any confidence in yourself. The last Government’s Wood Commission recognised the challenges we face and set out some clear recommendations. In particular, it said that those responsible for us should work together, earlier, to make sure we have as much chance as other children to succeed. In the next Parliament, we want you to deliver on the findings of the Wood Commission and make sure more of us have a chance at getting and keeping a job.

That’s why... We are calling on the next Scottish Government to have a conversation with 1000 care experienced people. We are Scotland’s children and the only way to know what we need is to talk to us. When you have heard about our lives, we want you to act on what we have said. We want you to be bold and ambitious to make sure we have the lives we dream of, not the destiny that being in care creates. And when you have heard our voice, we want you to help us create a Scotland that is united in providing the care, stability, opportunities and love that we need.


“It took too long for me to get to University. Very few people, including myself, ever believed it was possible. I was bullied at high school and judged for being in care. I left with just a handful of qualifications and was supported to fill out a benefits form at 16, rather than a UCAS form. I had aspirations but no way of realising them. Care experienced young people aren’t less capable, it’s just hard to concentrate on education when your home life is upside down.”

Ashley Cameron

Remember: 

40% of care experienced children leave school with one or more qualification at SCQF Level 5 , compared to 84% of the general population.

Almost half of care experienced children have not had their educational needs assessed, even though they are entitled in law to additional support.

Care experienced pupils are 7 times more likely to be excluded from school

Questions for the next government: 

Why do so many of your children leave school with such low attainment?

Does current additional support policy and legislation work?

Is it right for a parent to give their child a loan to get through college/university?

How can you help care experienced people realise their aspirations?

housing “Everything felt settled and safe for me in residential care, then it changed in an instant. Process determined that it was time for me to move out of care and towards ‘independent living’. At the age of 16. No one really lives independently. We all need people around us and we shouldn’t make care experienced people feel like they have to go it alone.”

Connor Chalmers

Remember: 

Care experienced people are just 0.5% of Scotland’s population but make up 30% of people who are homeless.

When care experienced people leave a formal care placement, they can’t go back if things don’t work out.

Care experienced people are moving into their own tenancies at a time when other young people are going on holiday with their friends, doing exams and planning their future.

Questions for the next government: 

Why are so many of your children ending up homeless?

Should young people be able to return to care if they want to?

How can you support relationships to continue even when formal care placements come to an end?

employment “When I left care, I felt totally alone. Getting a job takes confidence and belief in yourself. I didn’t have any of those. That meant the idea of going to an interview was scary. The help that I was offered didn’t feel personal or like it was coming from a parent. No one asked me what I was good at or interested in. No one encouraged me to think big.

Carla Wilkinson


Care experienced people have so much to offer. Like every other young person, we need our parents to help us get on.”

20% of care experienced people leave care without a formal plan for what happens next.

Not all young people who are entitled to aftercare support receive it.

Care experienced people are much less likely to gain and sustain a job than the general population.

Questions for the next government: 

Why are so many of your children unemployed?

How well is Job Centre Plus supporting and understanding your children?

How can you support initiatives by local authorities, like the Highland Council, who have committed to giving care experienced young people a job?

Given that you are Scotland’s biggest employer, is it possible for you to find jobs for your children in the family business?


Shilla Zwizwai

“Life before care was tough and I had to deal with things no young person should have to. My mental health was pushed to the limits and it has taken a long time for me to deal with that. At the start of my care journey, people seemed more comfortable talking about my basic needs than about how I felt. The relationships I built with staff made a huge difference in the end. All care experienced people should be given a chance to talk about and recover from the experiences that lead to us being there.”

Remember: 

52% of care experienced 5-10 year olds have a mental health disorder compared to 8% of those who are not care experienced.

Over 22% of care experienced people have tried to hurt, harm or kill themselves.

Care experienced young people are 20 times more likely to be dead by the age of 25.

Questions for the next government: 

Why are so many of your children experiencing poor mental health?

What is the purpose of care if these are the health outcomes it delivers?

How equipped is the NHS to support care experienced people?

Love “When I grew up in care, no one was allowed to tell me that they loved me. I know that love did exist, I felt it. But the way the system is set up meant it wasn’t allowed to flourish. That led to years of self doubt and self harm for me. I could trust no one. It was exactly the same when I started working in care. I wasn’t allowed to say ’love’ out loud. Young people desperately needed me to love them, they needed to be claimed but I wasn’t allowed to. To love someone was not seen as being ‘professional’. Not every young person thrives in care. That will only happen when they have somewhere that they feel at home and able to be themselves.

Laura Beveridge

Care can’t be clinical or institutional, it has to be like family life. Parents don’t tell their kids “I’m attached to you” they say “I love you”. Why should young people in care be denied the chance of feeling love? This is about our lives and it’s time for a big, bold and brave conversation about love and care.”

Questions for the next government: 

How often do you tell your children that you love them?

How can you ensure that Scotland’s care experienced young people feel loved?

Is it possible for care to provide children with a loving, long term relationship that mirrors family life?

How can you support initiatives by local authorities, like Orkney Council, who have said they will find adults who can offer care experienced young people a loving relationship?

If elected First Minister, I will commit to and oversee a national conversation, between my Government and 1000 care experienced people, by December 2018, in order to: 

Explore and investigate how care in Scotland can provide stable, loving, life long relationships

Lead the way in creating a society that supports and champions care experienced people.

Become the confident and ambitious parent that Scotland’s care experienced people need me to be.

Ruth Davidson Kezia Dugdale Patrick Harvie Alison Johnstone Willie Rennie Nicola Sturgeon

We support 1000 Voices...

Who cares? Scotland

Who Cares? Scotland is a national membership and advocacy organisation that works across Scotland with care experienced people to help them speak out, secure their rights and ensure their qualities and successes are recognised across society.

Our vision

Who Cares? Scotland has a vision of a Scotland where all people with experience of care are understood, believed in and given every opportunity to thrive.

@WhoCaresScotland /WhoCaresScotland Š Who Cares ?Scotland 5 Oswald Street Glasgow G1 4QR Tel: 0141 226 4441 Who Cares? Scotland is a registered charity: SC 026076

1000 Voices This work is supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust. The Trust is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

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