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Local Election Day has arrived. For now, there is no more for local council candidates across Scotland to do except watch and wait for voters to collectively decide what happens next. The Single Transferable Vote system used in Scottish local elections does not lend itself to party majorities, so thoughts will undoubtedly be turning to joining forces to best represent the electorate, likely complicated by the ban on forming coalitions multiple political parties have in place.

Regardless of the outcomes, in the coming weeks, The Promise Scotland will be writing to all newly elected councillors to welcome you to your role and remind and energise you about the critical part you can play in Scotland’s work to #KeepThePromise.

The blogs that made up this mini election series have focused on the work still needed to keep the promise that was made in February 2020. You can contribute significantly to that work.

Keeping the promise means transforming the way the complex 'system' of care works, once and for all. When asked whether you have committed to keep the promise, do not point to your hashtag usage or social media narratives.

Work instead to be able to point to real, meaningful change in your local area, the way your local council works, the conversations you have with colleagues. Create ways of working that you are proud to hold up as an example of the promise being kept. Be bold and be brave.

Your work has to have connection at its core. As Beth Anne Logan made clear in her blog CONNECT; listening to what local children and families with experience of the 'care system' tell you about systems and services has to be your starting point. Get to know care experienced children, families and adults in your local area. All you need to know about what is needed, you will hear from them.

As you work to keep the promise in your community, the question of budgets will raise its head. Money matters, and often it can feel like there isn't anywhere near enough of it. But as the blog on CREATE showed, and the Care Review told Scotland, the starting point has to be working out where the money is currently spent. If the call is simply for more money without understanding current spend, there is a risk that success looks like more investment rather than improved lives. More money into a system that isn't set up to spend it well and in the right places is a risk Scotland cannot afford to take.

And COLLABORATE. Local Authorities hold so many of the legal duties that impact on the lives of children and families. Responsibilities are significant and decisions made in line with legislative duties are so often life changing. In order to fulfill those duties in a way that truly supports children and families you have to work with other organisations. It is simply not possible to do it all and to holistically support the people you need to support. So, get to know your local partners in the third sector and across health boards. Each Local Authority will do that differently, but in order to plan and deliver services that work, you need others.

Work to #KeepThePromise is already underway and, if elected, you are about to enter an environment with live plans and commitments. That will look different for each Local Authority but where you start doesn’t matter, the important thing is to start somewhere and do so with conviction.

Making sure those plans and commitments connect with those whose lived experience far outweighs any learning you can gain from paperwork and frameworks. Collaborate with people and organisations, especially those who wouldn’t normally be engaged. Create a culture and approach where you understand the spend and are confident that budgets are where they need to be.There is no time like the present, and very few have the opportunity to contribute in the way that you, Scotland’s local councillors, do.

About the author

Fiona McFarlane - Head of Public Affairs
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Fiona McFarlane

Head of Public Affairs

Fiona works with colleagues and partners across Scotland to ensure that organisations understand their role, responsibility, and purpose in work to #KeepthePromise.

She makes sure The Promise Scotland is well positioned to tell this story of change, and to elevate, support and influence all those who are part of this work.

She also works with The Promise Oversight Board to help them in their public reporting role.