Care Day, the national celebration of care-experienced young people, takes place each February across Scotland, falling this year on Friday 21 February. Care Day will be extra special in the Western Isles, with the launch of a brand new young people’s hub in Stornoway Town Hall.
Organised by Who Cares? Scotland, the national third-sector membership and advocacy organisation, Care Day raises awareness and understanding of care, and celebrates the talents of care-experienced young people (young people with experience of being in care, whether that’s at home with foster carers or relatives, or in residential homes) and their friends.
The launch of the hub on the same day marks a new step for the young people and the partners involved, and will be accompanied by the first flying of the new Western Isles Care Flag, which has been designed by care-experienced young people and their peers. The flag raising will take place at 12:30pm at the Council Offices, Sandwick Road.
The flag - which features flowers representing the blossoming of their potential, and footsteps to represent their care journey - is being flown to symbolise the power of the voices of the young people themselves, but also to project the fact that Care Day is a time for the whole community to show its support.
Tom Boyd, Who Cares? Scotland’s Advocacy and Participation Manager for the North, said the hub, which is supported by a range of partners from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, reflects “the importance of creating spaces that young people feel they can shape as their own, where they can develop skills and confidence, and really build a sense of belonging and ownership.”
“It’s going to be a real partnership-based space, where group participatory opportunities and individual support for care experienced and other young people in the Western Isles takes place.”
The hub will be officially re-named on Care Day by the young people, who have also chosen the paint and decorations, and will provide a home base for participatory groups such as Young Islanders, which focuses on creating a sense of belonging among secondary-age care-experienced young islanders; the Kickin’ Club, and the Transitions Group, which supports young people transitioning from Primary into Secondary School with an ambitious summer programme.
While nationally the work of Who Cares? Scotland focuses on care-experienced young people, in the Western Isles, their remit is even broader, with Alison Frizell, Who Cares? Scotland’s Advocacy and Participation Worker for the islands, working alongside and supporting not only young people and children with experience of care, but a wide range of young people who may also benefit from Who Cares? Scotland’s services.
The new hub will also be a base for one of Who Cares? Scotland’s core offers, which is the one-to-one, independent advocacy service for young people on the islands. Advocacy involves spending time with and listening to a young person to understand what matters to them, helping them understand their rights and options, and championing their rights, views, and wishes while navigating what can be complex processes making key decisions about their lives..
This independent advocacy service sits alongside partnerships with services across the Comhairle that are supporting a growing range of participatory opportunities for children and young people, including the clubs and groups which will call the new hub home.
Care Day 2020 is also significant because it is taking place just as Scotland’s Independent Care Review announces its recommendations. Paul Sullivan, Participation, Policy and Influencing Manager with the Independent Care Review Secretariat, will join Care Day in Stornoway, speaking with young people, professionals, corporate parents, and carers about what is being proposed by the Review for the future of Care in Scotland.