In 2016, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, made a speech at the SNP’s annual conference, stating that Scotland should ‘come together and love its children’, whilst launching a ‘root and branch review of the care system.’
From the early stages of this Independent Care Review, there were strong, clear and passionate messages from the hundreds of people with lived experience of care they spoke to. These messages stated that they wanted to and should feel more love in their lives.
Since that time, there has been an in increased understanding of how important feeling loved whilst experiencing care is to children and young people, and the huge impact that loving relationships can have on their ability to not just survive, but to thrive, both during their care experience and once they leave care.
How do we ensure care is a loving experience for our children and young people?
That was the question the senior leaders of our partner organisations (Aberlour Children’s Charity, Includem, The Care Inspectorate and CELCIS) asked themselves at a Life Changes Trust event, which evolved into the partnership proposal for The Love InC Project.
This question has been at the core of the work we have engaged in for the past three years, and is what we have been exploring with children and young people, and the workforce.
We spoke to hundreds of adults and young people who were part of the care workforce or had experienced care, and explored what love means to them.
We wanted to focus on the necessity for love and how essential that is for any human to experience.
We wanted to find ways to talk about and think about love that helped to broaden people’s understanding of how love can be a core part of their professional practice.
We meaningfully involved young people with care experience throughout our project journey.
What did we find?
We found through carrying out participation work with children and young people, and insight and co-production activity with the workforce, that three over-arching themes are of vital importance to ensure love can flourish for our young people:
Organisational values that are love-led, and give permission for the workforce to act in a loving manner.
Trust and transparency in the workforce, and being able to have open, curious, and judgement-free conversations around love.
Time, space and flexibility to ensure our young people with care experience are truly listened to and allow us to adapt processes or approaches that don’t feel loving, as well as provide the time to let meaningful relationships develop and be sustained.
The Love InC Project Resources
We have created a final project report, which details our journey through the project, our activities, learning and findings. We are delighted to launch this report and hope that it will be a useful resource for the workforce when thinking about how they can ensure love flourishes in their own environments and contexts.
We have also created a recording of the insight session we have been delivering to the workforce, which is available here. Or watch it below.
We have a number of recorded conversations with our project partners, funders, and the Love InC project team, discussing what we have learnt about love, relationships and connections on this wonderful project journey.
We hope these will help to enable and facilitate more open conversations about love. They can enable exploration together as a wider system on how we can be love-led in our practice. They should make love an essential element of all children and young people’s care experience.
Project Development Manager
Love InC Project