Edinburgh has a lot to be proud of when it comes to policies and projects working with children and families.
An early learning and childcare trial is considering how to access more open spaces so that children from the earliest years can play and flourish in Edinburgh’s beautiful country, waterside and urban spaces. We are also one of the cities taking part in the Playing Out initiative, closing the cities streets to vehicles for a short period of time to allow children to play.
In addition, the Edinburgh Guarantee to make sure every secondary school leaver goes to great quality employment, training or further or higher education is a fantastic commitment to securing a positive future for all young people in the city.
But there is so much more we can do.
Championing participation, improving support, challenging inequalities and developing the children’s workforce are the foundations of what we do. Our vision is that all children in Scotland have an equal chance to flourish. This acts as the foundation for all we do and drives our priorities, policies and projects.
By 2050, we want to see children and young people actively involved as part of national conversations. They are key stakeholders and as such should be given the opportunity to have a real influence on projects, services and policies which directly influence them. Inclusion in policy decisions is more than just tokenistic and parliamentarians and local government leaders have all committed to respecting and championing children’s rights.
Young people have a visible presence, forming advisory groups for every major charity and influencing body – especially councils.
By 2050, we want discussion about the need for prevention and intervention and early support to be a thing of the past. We want it to be a given. We want support for children, young people and their families to be appropriate, available and accessible. Whether it be childcare, additional support needs, school holiday clubs or services for mental health, services are widely available and accessed with no stigma. Services are developed in collaboration and with input from parents, families and young people delivering what they know to make a real difference – not what policy makers think they need.
By 2050, we want to see real progress in tackling inequalities and combating poverty. We want to see continued investment in mental health prevention. We want to see waiting times for CAMHS services hitting the headlines for the right reasons, not because the waiting times are appallingly poor.
We want to see local and national government making serious commitments to addressing child poverty, continuing to lead other home nations by demonstrating a commitment to meeting real, tangible targets.
We want accessible, affordable, high quality childcare, delivered in a flexible way. Research continually points to both the social and financial benefits of childcare and, in 2017, we still don’t have it right.
By 2050, we want to see Scotland held up in high regard as an example of international good practice. No longer will the top of the wellbeing tables be exclusively occupied by the Nordic countries. Our little island will have conquered some of that land too.
We know that Edinburgh, as one of the biggest councils in the country, can lead the way. They can be champions in their field, and a shining example of good practice.
For the last 30 years, Children in Scotland has been working to influence and develop child policy that positively affects the lives of children and their families. We will continue to do so for the next 30 years – and beyond.
In order to deliver on our vision, on our promise, to children growing up in Scotland today and children yet to be born, we need to embrace, encourage and take advantage of the passion and commitment of so many. We need to embrace cross departmental, cross sector and cross border relationships. We need to facilitate open, honest dialogue.
We intend to lead on these partnerships. Through our membership, and the wider children’s sector network, we give a voice to those working passionately for the same goal. We facilitate relationships and connections so that we can be greater than the sum of our parts.
We want our vision for 2050 to become a reality, and we believe we can get there. Together.
Visit www.edinburgh.org/2050 for further information and to have your say. For more on Children in Scotland, visit www.childreninscotland.org.uk
Jackie Brock, chief executive of Edinburgh-based charity Children in Scotland