The people who hold the power must help us keep The Promise - Fiona Duncan
But the east/west coast divide of salt and sauce or salt and vinegar on your chippy tells a different story.
As proud as we are of our national achievements, we’re often as fiercely proud of where we grew up, or live – of ‘ma bit’.
Scotland might be a wee country, but its people understand the power and importance of both the national and the local. If you want to get anything done in Scotland, ignore this at your peril.
It makes a lot of sense. Rural challenges and opportunities are quite different from those experienced in urban areas, as are those of mainland dwellers to islanders. Knowing and appreciating that, can make all the difference to a local community.
The power of local knowledge combined with local democracy can transform lives.
Scotland‘s 1,227 local elected members are crucial when it comes to making decisions that positively impact the lives of children and families. Most come from the community they serve, know and understand, and care deeply about its people – and use the power they have to make changes that address particular needs. That might be free access to leisure facilities, or a laptop, or a service dedicated to a specific group; all have the potential to improve the quality of people’s lives – if you really know them.
Campaigning for May’s local elections will be ramping up in earnest soon – perhaps you have already had leaflets through your door. You might find that many pamphlets focus on a few divisive or exciting national issues.
But when it comes to the business of what communities need, for the last few years local councillors – across the country and of all political persuasions – have shown huge concern for what it means to #KeepThePromise in their patch – possibly more so than the day-to-day machinations of central government. Local might feel small, but compassionate people, armed with the right information, make an enormous difference. The Promise Scotland values this and will produce a welcome pack for all new councillors to support them in their role of keeping Scotland on course to #KeepThePromise.
Since the Independent Care Review concluded in February 2020, the Scottish Government’s commitment to the promise has been unwavering and this week it published its national plan to implement it. It has reaffirmed its commitment to children and families – and offers real, tangible actions that will help support Scotland realise the systemic changes the review demanded.
For The Promise to be kept, national and local leadership – and all that entails – is vital. Holding children and families at the heart when making tough decisions, such as allocating scant resources, signals the importance of keeping the promise and encourages energy and action.
Uncertainty, introduced at a national level, has an opposite but equal effect. The impact of the National Care Service consultation unsettled many and created an unwelcome hiatus in terms of work to #KeepThePromise. Uncertainty was felt acutely at a local level.
But imagine what the combination of national, cross-party championing of The Promise and engaged local politicians who know their constituents and their lives could achieve.
Scotland has always understood this, although not always managed to execute it. If it’s to realise its vision of becoming a country that cares, made up of services that work, everyone must understand and play their part – and those who hold power, locally and nationally, must lead the way.
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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