Promise Oversight Board works to publish first report - Fiona Duncan

Data tells us all kinds of important things. Knowing how many, how few, how often, can help measure and track activities, make comparisons, plot trends and monitor change.

Fiona Duncan is Chair of The Promise, the body responsible for ensuring the findings of the Independent Care Review are implemented, and CEO of Corra
Fiona Duncan is Chair of The Promise, the body responsible for ensuring the findings of the Independent Care Review are implemented, and CEO of Corra

Governments and organisations all over the world use data to do exactly this: to figure out whether they are meeting targets – set by themselves or others – designed to assess whether they're doing their job, and how well (or otherwise).

There’s no question this kind of data can be useful, but it tells little about what’s behind the numbers – in the gaps and cracks where life happens.

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Of course, knowing how many of the people who died in Scotland from drug use were care-experienced is important - but that alone won’t begin to understand why, and prevent further deaths. Even with resources required to properly understand how many young people in custody are care experienced, it won’t solve the systemic problem of why they're criminalised more readily than their peers, or end that.

Numbers, while valuable, don’t tell us about the events that shape people’s lives – or what they needed to thrive. Yet too often it is only numbers that are used to track progress and tell the story of change.

Two years ago, the Independent Care Review published its conclusions. The seven reports, primary of which is ‘the promise’, were driven and informed by people’s stories, experiences, and outcomes.

The sharing of stories is incredibly powerful. Telling the story of why and how you came to be where you are, can change opinions, shift thinking and – if really listened to - transform the future.

Thousands of children and families shared their experiences with the Independent Care Review in the hope of exactly that. Their stories, many full of pain and trauma, were carefully listened to, thought about, and drawn together to create a picture of the change that Scotland must make.

Scotland listened - and made a promise to change.

This year the Promise Oversight Board, the body established to monitor the progress Scotland is making towards keeping that promise, will publish its first report. It will report on what it's seen and heard, as well as what it hasn’t. It will be honest and clear about how far Scotland has come, and how far it still has to go.

The past 24 months, since publication of ‘the promise’, have seen some of the most difficult times. The pandemic stopped the world in its tracks.

Life changed for everyone.

Government, public bodies, charities and business had to change how they worked overnight.

But far too many stories stayed the same with the increased hardship of the pandemic carried by those with already the heaviest burdens.

Scotland knows what it must do. Children and families shared the intimate details of their lives to show what had to change. They must never be asked to do so again – once is more than enough.

Tomorrow is Care Day 2022, a day to celebrate the rights of children and young people with care experience. Surely, there is no better way to honour the care community than by acting on their stories, the part they played to drive change.

It is now the responsibility of all involved in the work of change, to continue to do what’s needed to keep the promise, at pace.

Only this will enable Scotland’s children and families to write a new, happier, healthier and hopeful story for the future.

Fiona Duncan is Chair of The Promise, the body responsible for ensuring the findings of the Independent Care Review are implemented, and CEO of Corra

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