The recent publication of The Promise Plan 24-30 is a welcome next step for those organisations working towards keeping The Promise in Scotland, continuing the critical centring of voices of those who have both lived, and currently live within the care system.

Adoption UK Scotland has always embedded lived experience within the work that we do. We recognise the unique value of peer support and the knowledge gained from those who have walked the same path ahead or alongside you. But the learning opportunities we’ve experienced through our work, motivated by The Promise and the need to better support our communities, has been significant.

Spending time with other adopted young people means I can help others too

– #E Project participant

Like partners and colleagues across the sector we have been evolving and responding to The Promise and the policy landscape, identifying gaps in our own learning and service delivery, and promoting practice to provide more positive outcomes for children and families. We have evidenced a commitment to prioritise collaboration, engagement, and empowerment, with individuals, families and professionals, in the work that we do.

Thanks to funding from The Promise, we were able to establish the #E Project to engage with young adoptees, those in kinship care, and young people with FASD. Our national youth project provides a platform for these individuals to share their experiences, challenges, and aspirations. Their voices are now embedded within our services, and our Youth Advisory Group will continue to inform our decision-making in the future. 

We have been working closely with adult adoptees, including supporting partners such as the Scottish Adult Adoptee Movement (SAAM) to host their own community activities and creating a space within our organisation for them to be heard and to advise on our own development and delivery. They are a key part of our learning, to ensure the voices of their community and members are heard as part of different perspectives and experiences.

My child is much calmer, I feel like I have a much better understanding of where they are coming from

– A parent’s thoughts on our Education Pathways service

AUK Scotland has been bridging the gap with delivery of our Pathways services for adoptive families, a therapeutic, education and support service for parents to support understanding of their children’s needs and offering peer support alongside clinical intervention from therapeutic specialists. This year also saw the launch of Education Pathways, a bespoke service funded by The Promise which provides tailored interventions that address the specific needs of these young individuals, fostering their academic success and overall wellbeing.

The Promise was the catalyst of our Brothers and Sisters project, which led to the development of new resources in partnership with AFKA Scotland, along with community group opportunities to support relationships between brothers and sisters with care experience and their families, across Scotland. Our Foundations for Families project, funded by the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund, has piloted community support for kinship carers in local authority areas, including consultation with families to learn more about their needs and barriers to accessing support. The effect that we’ve seen from establishing community support in the active areas has been significant, and the positive impact of the therapeutic service delivery has shown the critical need for ongoing access to this service for families.

At the heart of our work lies a commitment to ensuring that the voices of those with lived experiences are heard and embedded in all aspects of our services, across agencies and practitioners and the wider sector. We believe that a cross-sector approach is essential to ensuring that every child in Scotland has access to the support they need to thrive. We’re pledging our support of the ambitious Promise Plan to continue to drive forward the changes needed to make it possible for every child and family in Scotland to receive the respect, scaffolding and support they deserve.

Fiona Aitken, director, Adoption UK Scotland