On the 5th February 2020, the Independent Care Review published its conclusions. Its seven reports presented a vision for the Scotland that together we could have.
Driven by the voices of thousands of care experienced babies, infants children, adults and families as well as the paid and unpaid workforce, the demand was for a Scotland where every child grows up loved, safe and respected.
The change the Care Review called for was vast and urgently needed and its challenge was met with equally all-encompassing support and enthusiasm: from the care experienced community, organisations and individuals across sectors and industries, politicians, community leaders and the press.
The Promise was made. The Promise must be kept.
One year on and the world looks different and not in a way that anyone could have expected. Lockdown, social distancing and fear shape the plans and projects of everyone, from Orkney to Kelso. For too many life has got more difficult.
The pandemic has, in many ways, given us a shared lens on society. The failure of our ‘systems’ is magnified and so too the impact this has on those they fail. But also things solutions that were once too big, too hard, too complicated are now suddenly non-negotiable. The impossible, possible.
In a year where everything changed, one thing remained – Scotland’s commitment to #KeepThePromise. There is much still to be done and hard decisions and actions to be taken. But, as Chair of The Promise, I see the foundations laid.
Set up in July of last year, The Promise team began the massive task of engaging and working with all those who need to #KeepThePromise and more than 100 organisations have outlined how they will change. This includes all local authorities and community planning partnership, the Children’s Hearings Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, the Care Inspectorate plus NHS trusts, charities and many, many more.
These commitments have shaped the draft of one single, multi-agency, cross-sector, collectively owned three-year Plan for Scotland, detailing what must happen for the promise to be kept. This will be supported by annual rolling Change Programmes detailing how this will happen, by who and when.
The Promise Oversight Board - a 20 strong assembly, more than half of whom have care experience, and who will hold Scotland to account - has been recruited and met as a group for the first time.
The Promise Design School, which will pilot in the next couple of months, will give people with care experience the training and skills to collaborate and design public services. With the Pinky Promise Design School following closely afterwards to capture children’s ideas on change that can happen now.
The Promise Partnership, a £4m investment from Scottish Government opened for applications on 1st February.
Despite adversity, the schedule laid out a year ago in the Promise report called the plan hasn’t slipped. Massive effort from organisations, individuals, Government, and those who campaigned so hard for the Care Review have kept it on track.
The care community called for change. And change is here.
But this is only the beginning – there is much to do before Scotland is the country our children need it to be. You will all be asked to give more and do more and I know that you will give it. Scotland will #KeepThePromise.