Paul Carberry: Reaching out helping hand to children

AS Action for Children Scotland marks its 60th anniversary with a month of events, Paul Carberry considers its past and future

Cathkin House in Rutherglen was known as National Childrens Home when it opened in September 1955. Picture: Contributed

On 10 September 1955, Action for Children Scotland – then known as National Children’s Home – launched its first service, Cathkin House in Rutherglen, where we supported 30 children. Since then, we’ve never looked back and today, we work with over 14,000 vulnerable children and young people through our 90 services across Scotland. Young people really are at the heart of all the work that we do.

We pride ourselves on knowing that not only do we listen and advocate on their behalf but that we also make them an active and real part of our organisation. Recently we were commended for our commitment to employing young people we have previously supported.

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Investors in Young People awarded us gold accreditation and recognised Action for Children Scotland as an organisation that fully supports young people with barriers to come work with and for us. Earlier this month, a reception was held at the Scottish Parliament to mark our 60th anniversary. The night featured a wonderful performance from a number of our service users – who worked with the Scottish Youth Theatre – entitled Many Voices, One Story, which, through the eyes of people we support, told our story.

Additionally, another young person we have previously supported, and now employ, shared with government ministers and MSPs who attended the event his experiences of being part of the Action for Children Scotland family.

As we celebrate our achievements of supporting the most vulnerable children and young people in Scotland, we continue to look to the future. To improve the lives of young people in order to realise our ambition of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up in.

Furthermore, our officers have been at the forefront of government initiatives and steering groups that cover a range of issues including: early years, criminal justice, organised crime and employability.

We are also very proud of being at the heart of driving pioneering approaches in Scotland which have influenced services across the UK. The prime example being Dundee Families, which led the way for early intervention within our intensive family support services. There is also our Gilmerton Road service in Edinburgh, which we launched in April 1998. This innovative service supported children with learning disabilities and their families in a home-from-home setting – a far cry from the large disability hospitals that families were used to, and in our care the children have flourished. More recently we have also been involved in the roll out of the innovative Roots of Empathy programme.

This evidence-based classroom programme teaches children about empathy with the aim of increasing social and emotional competence while at the same time reducing levels of aggression and bullying amongst primary school children. A special thanks has to go to all our staff in local authorities across Scotland, our partner organisations and to everyone that has supported our work.

Together, we make a huge difference to children and young people’s lives every day. Action for Children Scotland works with more than 14,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year. With 90 services across Scotland, we are in communities where you live and work.

We help transform the lives of thousands of children and young people each year and we’ve been doing so for 60 years.

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @actnforchildren

• Paul Carberry is director of children’s services at Action for Children Scotland