The forgotten victims of crime

Voices of the young adults whose family are in prison

It’s estimated that 27,000 children and young people experience the imprisonment of a family member each year in Scotland

KIN Poster

KIN is a partnership project between Vox Liminis and Families Outside who help those aged 16-25. It is a new step in opening up the conversation in Scotland around what young people experience and may need when a member of their family is imprisoned.

This new dynamic, energised and ambitious project aims to collect the voices of young adults through working with writers, documentary makers, illustrators and theatre professionals that have experienced a family member in prison in order to help all young people in this situation across Scotland and to help them find confidence in themselves again. The work of KIN ultimately wants to eliminate prejudice against imprisonment that many young people unfortunately faces at the moment. We want the lives of young people in that position to be as ‘crime-free’ and equal as any other young person.

The goal of KIN is to bring fairness and equality to young people in Scotland.

Imprisonment is a common occurrence in society. People with families are sent to jail for one reason or another. In Scotland today, it is almost taboo for someone with a family member in prison to talk about it, and is more often than not met with judgement every time the topic is brought up. For us here at KIN, a fairer Scotland would not have this issue.

“We don’t talk about this at home”

People would know that imprisonment is a very real factor in society, and young people could speak about their experiences freely, without fear of judgements from their peers.

“It’s something that’s part of me but it’s not what defines me”

A partnership project between Vox Liminis and Families Outside, KIN is a new step in opening up the conversation in Scotland around what young people experience and may need when a member of their family is imprisoned.

“This has been different to any other day in my 17 years.

In addition to this KIN have also recently released a video to KIN artwork. Each member of KIN has their own experience, their our own reflections and their own hopes for the future – both for for themselves and the wider society. By creating art that is informed and inspired by their experiences, KIN hope to engage a wide variety of audiences in thinking, discussing and creating together to shed new light on an issue that affects many young people in the country, but is so often unspoken, unseen and unknown.

Do you need someone to talk to?

If you or someone you know have experience of family imprisonment and are interested in this project please don’t hesitate to contact KIN Project worker Rosie on rosie@voxliminis.co.uk. Or for more information you can also visit our website.

Join the KIN team to break down walls and find your voice.

For more information please see:

  • Vox Liminis                                            http://www.voxliminis.co.uk/kin/
  • Families Outside                                  http://www.familiesoutside.org.uk/
  • Video to KIN Artwork                         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iyn8gc5Lxs

 

The Fantastic Four of Southcraig Campus

An inspirational chat with four awesome students…..truly the ’Fantastic Four’.

On the 10th November I had the honour of meeting four remarkable young adults at Southcraig Campus, Ayr. Their teacher, Yvonne, had written to the Fairer Scotland Team [via the mailbox!] inviting me to talk with the fantastic pupils of Southcraig campus, who had something to say about a ‘Fairer Scotland by 2030’.

The students of Southcraig are all on the autism spectrum and often have very complex additional and/or supporting needs. There are 97 students, from pre-school to 19 years-of-age, with a comparable number of teachers on-hand to support through their school years.

Some of the students need one-one support. The four students I met with – Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe – were in the senior phase of their schooling, aged between 15 and 19. My fantastic four, all of whom have additional and complex needs in everyday life and learning.

We started with an explanation of the Fairer Scotland initiative and discussed how it was important to have our say in this. We then focused on what fair and unfair mean, using scenarios on cards to decide if a situation was fair or unfair.

The four picked 6 topics that were of most importance to them. Over a five week period they discussed the topics and articulated their thoughts of ’what mattered to them?’ on a poster and a video.

What was different?
Through the entire Fairer Scotland journey – meeting dozens of communities and organisations – the team often returned to a central issue. That of Social inequality. This visit was no different.

What was different was the way the four described their vision for the future, designing their own posters to express what they believed Scotland would look like. In fact, what a fairer country looks like.

Not only did they design an amazing poster, but they also had the courage to stand up and speak about their ideal world as part of an ‘SVQ N2 Talking and Listening’ class award. They delivered their visions with confidence and pride – in front of the camera (something that a lot of people would find too intimidating to even contemplate).

What mattered to them?
Some of the common elements central to the Fairer Scotland conversation include areas like housing, welfare reform, health and income and employment. However, Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe’s focused on:

  • Being safe
  • Money
  • Being healthy
  • Jobs
  • Being Equal and
  • Being included.

The leading light for the Fantastic Four was their wonderful teacher, Yvonne Cameron. From the outset, Yvonne was on-hand to help them with their conversation, ensuring the students said what they wanted to say.

“We started with an explanation of the Fairer Scotland initiative and discussed how it was important to have our say in this. We then focused on what fair and unfair mean, using scenarios on cards to decide if a situation was fair or unfair.

We moved on to discuss what is important to young people in a Fairer Scotland. Each week we looked at a different aspect eg. money, jobs, equality, good health, being safe, being valued and most importantly for our young people, inclusion. We discussed this fully and then videoed each individual pupil’s input. During the Scottish Government visit we looked at all of the contributions and challenged our young people to narrow their suggestions down to the most important item to them under each heading.

This has been a really interesting and enlightening project. I have known these four young people for several years and through this class I know a lot more about what is important to them.”

Sure enough, all four students had a lot to say about the kind of Scotland we all want to see.

Zoe’s Vision
Zoe would like to see:

  • Being equal – people who sign should get the same chances
  • Money – families should have enough so that poor people can get home
  • Being healthy – looking after the environment keeps us healthy
  • Being included – people should play together and not leave anybody out
  • Jobs – jobs should have good wages
  • Being safe – tell the police if you are getting bullied. If you don’t, they can’t help you.
15-year-old girl standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
15-year-old Zoe just wants “To learn skills to go to work”.

Zoe is interested in drama and is a very confident and articulated speaker. She said she was nervous, but you would never have known. She was brilliant. Zoe is the youngest of the group and explained that she often feels safer at home – just now, she couldn’t think about being on her own.

Rory’s Vision
Rory would like to see:

  • Being equal – people in wheelchairs should get the same chances
  • Money – more money to live on my own and money to go to college
  • Being healthy – going to the dentist gives me healthy teeth
  • Being included – ramps for buildings
  • Jobs – to learn skills to go to work
  • Being safe – hospitals keep us safe.
A lad standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
Rory would like to see “People in wheelchairs should get the same chances.”

Rory would like to be able to live on his own one day. He was very shy, but delivered his story very well, and was proud that he done it. We all were. Rory was very interested in ensuring he had the opportunity to speak up for his friends in school. He felt many of them would not feel confident speaking out about the issues and difficulties they face, on a day-to-day basis. He explained that many of them felt they simply didn’t have the same chances as others, because they were in a wheelchair. It was a very admirable and thoughtful gesture, and I was taken back by Rory’s selflessness in thinking about his fellow students.

Harley’s Story
Harley – AKA ‘Miss Chatterbox’ – was on the ball from the outset, and a fantastic host. Harley wanted to see:

  • Being equal – boys and girls have the same chances
  • Money – more money for people to buy food
  • Being healthy – opportunities to go to free dancing and exercise classes keeps us healthy
  • Being included – everybody should have the chance to play
  • Jobs – work experience like “work out” will help me get a job
  • Being safe – I don’t want to live on my own. I want to stay with my mum and dad. They keep me safe.
A girl standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
15-year-old Harley wants “Opportunities to go to free dancing and exercise classes keeps us healthy.”

Harley’s passion is dancing and exercise and she often accompanies her sister, a dance teacher, at classes. She loves keeping fit and being a social butterfly. Harley is the oldest of the group and it was clear that she really cares for her fellow students and the teachers. She really does have a heart of gold.

Louis’s Story

17-year-old lad standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
17-year-old Louis just wants “People should treat me the age I am”.

Louis is a tall, strong, strapping lad who can’t wait to live on his own. All he wants is to be treated as an adult, and the thriving 17-year-old he is – not as a child. Louis is passionate about web access for all, so he can learn and gather advice on things that he is interested in.

  • Being equal – everyone should have access to Youtube
  • Money – we need more money in schools to buy things for leisure time and fun
  • Being healthy – getting the chance to eat cheap healthy food and drink bottled water
  • Being included – people should treat me the age I am
  • Jobs – get the chance to go to work
  • Being safe – watch out for animals. Keep animals safe. I don’t want to see animals run over.

Memories
My Fantastic Four were uber excited to have us along as it gave them the chance to have their voices heard by the Scottish Government. They put a lot of time and effort into their projects and were delighted that they could showcase them for us.

From the outset of the Fairer Scotland conversation, the Scottish Government wanted to engage with and encourage people across Scotland – in particular those with lived experiences of inequalities and who don’t normally get the chance to discuss the things that are important to them.

Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe certainly did that – and in the most dynamic, interesting and fun way. It really was a truly memorable experience.

What next?
The Fairer Scotland conversation is on-going. We want to make sure we continue to engage with those who have helped us through this journey so far. Now, we plan to delve a bit deeper into “what’s changed?” and “what still has to be done?“.

My Fantastic Four are going to help me kick start this next chapter, and I’ll make sure they are very much part of this adventure. ‘Real Lives, Real People’.

Watch this space.

More information
Southcraig Campus, Ayr
Southcraig Campus, Ayr, is a Primary and secondary special school for pupils with additional support needs.

Autistic Spectrum
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

Enhanced by our diversity, combined by our humanity…

BEMIS Scotland host their lively Fairer Scotland conversation in Perth on 24th November.
BEMIS Scotland host their lively Fairer Scotland conversation in Perth on 24th November.
Danny Boyle (Parliamentary and Policy Officer – BEMIS Scotland).

Previously as part of the Fairer Scotland conversations BEMIS had submitted a blog encouraging diverse communities to stay politically engaged in post referendum Scotland regardless of their political allegiances.

The truth is that ‘Fairer Scotland’ equality issues, and in particular ‘Race Equality’ and all that that entails will only ever be adequately enhanced by experienced, informed, diverse citizens pro-actively shaping the communities, sectors and services in which our lives evolve and interact.

Details of the small grants programme from BEMIS Scotland
Details of the small grants programme from BEMIS Scotland
Scotland’s future is a collage of identities, expertise, history, oral tradition and cultural characteristics. In this context, the sub-heading for a Fairer Scotland could read ‘enhanced by our diversity – combined by our humanity’.

As we strive to create a ‘Fairer Scotland’ sometimes it is important to stop, reflect and allow ourselves some time to consider where we are at this moment in time? The world is in the midst of volatile and often overwhelming global challenges.

Domestically our most vulnerable communities face a decade of further austerity and an onslaught of financial responsibility they neither sought, created nor benefit from.

Since the devastating events in Paris the veneer of ‘tolerance’ has been lifted for some people who have used this social trauma as an excuse to vent their own deep-seated prejudice, bigotry and racism.

The hard truth however is that in reality the ‘Scotland’ they think they live in and are defending has never existed, apart from in their own heads, ignorance and bile cultivated by their own cultural deficit.

Scotland has been shaped by millennia of global influence. Our national instrument, the Bagpipes, are most likely from Ancient Mesopotamia (Modern day Syria and Iraq), the time signatures which drive our music are shared by India, Pakistan and many others international communities.

Arabic has been a spoken language in Scotland since the 12th century, why? Because Christian bishops decreed that you could only fully appreciate the sentiments of the bible if you could speak a ‘Semitic’ language.

In short the global influence on our day to day lives in Scotland is profound. The direct influence of countless generations of migration underpinned by intangible cultural heritage.

Over the coming 10 weeks we will go full circle and the global cultural characteristics of Scotland will come alive is a stramash of diverse community celebrations focussing on St. Andrews weekend, The Winter Festival season and Burns day. The 65 diverse local community events taking place as part of the BEMIS / Scottish Government led Year of Food and Drink and Winter Festival celebrations represent Scotland’s past, present and future.

Domestically, a Fairer Scotland is not merely about initiating new policies and structures but rather about enhancing and advancing the rights and responsibilities of the diverse communities, collectively and individually.

Part of Scotland has always been – and is eternally – African, South Asian, Middle and Far Eastern, European and all the diversity of culture, language, religion and beliefs inherent around the globe.

In relation to a Fairer Scotland we should be:

  • comfortable recognising these influences on Scotland and retrospectively Scotland’s place and influence in the world, for better or worse
  • brave enough to acknowledge, in a spirit of reconciliation and acknowledgement the influence of Empire in Scotland and Scotland’s place in the Empire.

Danny Boyle maps the ideas from the BEMIS Fairer Scotland conversation in Perth on 24th November.
Danny Boyle maps the ideas from the BEMIS Fairer Scotland conversation in Perth on 24th November.

Domestically, a Fairer Scotland is not merely about initiating new policies and structures but rather about enhancing and advancing the rights and responsibilities of the diverse communities, collectively and individually.

It is time we acknowledged that we all have a role to play in this process when we start functioning as responsible active citizens who equally contribute towards building, sustaining and advancing a fairer country for all.

Thus, through our endeavour to advance and progress a Fairer Scotland, it is a prerequisite that we, as diverse communities, continue to play a positive part in this process harnessing the most cherished environment of participative democracy that we all experienced through the referendum.

In a Fairer Scotland, we have a duty to pledge and enrich relevant debates in relation to equality, rights and responsibilities, diversity and citizenship as well as a dynamic inclusive identity.

The importance of participative placemaking in a Fairer Scotland

One of a series of five guides produced by PAS to address problems faced by Gypsy/Travellers in dealing with the planning system.
One of a series of five guides produced by PAS to address problems faced by Gypsy/Travellers in dealing with the planning system.
Petra Biberbach (Chief Executive, PAS)

The late-19th century establishment of the British planning system was a direct response to poor living conditions, social inequalities and public health issues associated with rapid urbanisation. Pioneers like Ebenezer Howard recognised the importance of places which foster wellbeing and are sustainable. By uniting good design with higher building standards, and a clear desire to promote social objectives, the planning system facilitates outcomes such as quality places, decent housing, employment, public services and amenities – all with positive impacts on equality, equity and wellbeing.

The extent to which people get involved in decisions that impact them, be it the delivery of local services or the design of well-functioning places, are important measurements of an inclusive society and an important indicator of the overall wellbeing of our country. Meaningful public participation, not only in the processes, but also in the decision-making are at the heart of a Fairer Scotland.

The importance of a participative approach
It is often argued that process and bureaucracy have taken precedence over the original aims of planning, with emphasis on social justice fading. It is striking that the Fairer Scotland report states that only 22% of people in Scotland feel that they can influence decisions in their local area; and also that people in lower socio-economic group feel that they have a lower level of influence. The planning system is of course a prominent example of local decision-making. If we are to create places that will deliver better, more equitable outcomes, then all people must have the opportunities and the capacity to engage effectively at the earliest opportunity – genuine participative placemaking. Achieving this is the focus of PAS’s educational role in helping people to become active citizens.

Improving the system
A hallmark of a fairer society is one in which levels of civic engagement are high and democratic processes are accessible to all. It is clear that the current Scottish Government attaches high priority to the greater involvement of communities in placemaking, evidenced by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the current Land Reform (Scotland) Bill. However, the creation of empowered communities throughout Scotland is dependent upon easy access to information, training and support required to engage effectively with planning and placemaking – and disadvantaged communities may often require greater initial support. The involvement Community Councils is essential, but also of young people, seldom-heard groups and other community groups, in allowing decisions to be influenced at the most local level.

The role of PAS
PAS – as an educational charity facilitating everyone to have their voice heard in discussions and decisions about their local area – has a key role to play in the Fairer Scotland debate. All of our work is focused on engagement and participative placemaking – detailed below are just two examples of PAS projects which have directly addressed those seldom-heard by decision-makers.

Participants in a Young Placemakers™ project in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Participants in a Young Placemakers™ project in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Young Placemakers®
As a group often disadvantaged by an unfair and unequal society, it is essential that young people are educated from an early age in their rights and responsibilities as citizens and have an understanding of how to get involved in local decision-making. PAS’s Young Placemakers initiative encourages and empowers young people to become involved in shaping their places. The programme creates motivated young community leaders, who can inspire their peers to think about the places where they live and the future of their communities. PAS recognises the clear-sightedness and capability of young people in identifying and expressing the needs of their communities.

Gypsy/Travellers and the Scottish Planning System research project
Gypsy/Travellers are a group whose quality of life and social outcomes, such as health, educational attainment and employment opportunities, are very much tied to the availability of good-quality and culturally-appropriate accommodation. Inadequate provision has contributed to significantly poorer living standards for Gypsy/Travellers. PAS was commissioned by the Scottish Government to research the engagement of Gypsy/Travellers with the Scottish planning system, with the intention of increasing the level and quality of the engagement of Gypsy/Travellers, making their voices heard, and improving the quality of outcomes, as well as improving professional practice at local authority level.

The possibilities of change
The examples of PAS’s Young Placemakers® programme and Gypsy/Travellers project demonstrate how – if we address disadvantage by promoting wider participation in place – a whole range of social outcomes can be improved. Active participation of all communities in Scotland in the processes shaping their environment will yield multiple benefits. It will create more equitable opportunities to influence decision-making. It will help reinvigorate civic life and the involvement of people in the democratic process. It will above all produce better quality places, which meet people’s needs and aspirations, and in doing so promote improved living standards and equality of opportunity. These benefits do however depend on the right support and delivery structures and the allocation of necessary resources.


More information
Website, The PAS website
PAS promotes education for all in the planning process, to encourage community engagement in creating positive places. With over 20 years of experience, the expertise of our staff and volunteers inspires and empowers people across Scotland.

A Fairer Greener Scotland by 2030?

Kristina Nitsolova (Ethnic Minority Environmental Network Development Officer, CEMVO Scotland)

‘What would make Scotland a Fairer and more prosperous place to live by 2030?’

It really is a BIG question.

Considering the Fairer Scotland question is a great way to identify common topics of concern – allowing us all to collectively prioritise and plan for achieving what is a bold vision.

Take the growing importance of climate change and sustainability issues for example. How do we make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous and sustainable place to live by 2030?

There are several initiatives and acts already at play that we should all be aware of:

  • The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 aims to reduce Scotland’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050
  • The new UN Sustainable Development Goals – promote development within planetary boundaries, where no one is left behind. The underline the importance of future low carbon national/international social and economic developments.
  • Scotland 2030 is another initiative by the Scottish Government which aims to communicate what current climate change policy commitments and aspirations might mean in practice [and on the ground] in 2030. This is a useful engagement tool to continue the debate on how Scotland can become a low carbon society, highlighting the action people can take nowto make this vision a reality.

These developments provide the context for the Fairer Greener Scotland conversations.

Our Fairer Greener events

The view from the Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh.
The view from the Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh – our venue for the Fairer Greener Scotland conversation on Wednesday, November 25th.
You are warmly invited to join a #fairerscotland #fairergreener conversation to explore what a socially just and sustainable Scotland would look like and what is needed to achieve such a joint vision by 2030.

We are thrilled to be able to create this collaborative space for those individuals, communities and organisations interested in social justice and sustainability issues. We’ll be hosting two events – in Edinburgh and Glasgow – on the 25th November and 1st December respectively.

By coming together and discussing these key issues – whilst exploring ways to address them – we can begin to map the resources and leadership needed to create a just and sustainable Scotland by 2030.

We are also pleased to announce that Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform will join the Fairer Greener Scotland event in Edinburgh on November 25th.

Our supporters
The events are organised by the Ethnic Minority Environmental Network and CEMVO Scotland whilst they are also supported by:

  • CIFAL Scotland
  • Learning for Sustainability Scotland
  • Scottish Government Social Justice and Regeneration
  • Scottish Government Climate Change Hub
  • University of Edinburgh Moray House School of Education
  • University of Edinburgh Social Responsibility and Sustainability

These organisations are already advancing the combined social justice and sustainability agenda. So please, do sign up! We look forward to seeing you there…


Other information
Website, Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfS)
Scotland’s UN Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. LfS Scotland’s purpose is to harness the full potential of learning to create a flourishing, sustainable world. By participating in the Fairer Greener Scotland by 2030 event, the organisation continues it’s work with and for its members and partners on a local, national and global scale.

Website, CIFAL Scotland
Part of UNITAR’s network of International Training Centres – CIFAL is dedicated to providing innovative training. This strengthens the capacity of government and civil society to advance sustainable development and implement the sustainable development goals. In doing so, they help pave the way for an integrated sustainable future within planetary boundaries – where no one is left behind.

Website, The Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO Scotland)
A Scottish charity committed to strengthening communities and tackling inequalities. CEMVO Scotland works with the BME sector across Scotland, is a strategic partner to the Scottish Government, and promotes a partnership approach to increase understanding of the EM third sector whilst also inspiring others to strive to reduce the inequality gap. CEMVO forms the hub for the The Ethnic Minority Environmental Network.

Website, University of Edinburgh Social Responsibility and Sustainability
Harnessing expertise at the University of Edinburgh to influence and inform the global debate around climate change.

Website, The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009
This Act aims to reduce Scotland’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050.

Website, The UN Sustainable Development Goals
These UN goals promote development within planetary boundaries – where no one is left behind. The goals underline the importance of considering future national and international social and economic developments within a low-carbon context.

Website, Scotland 2030
Another initiative by the Scottish Government which aims to communicate what current climate change policy commitments and aspirations might mean in practice, on the ground, in 2030. This is a useful engagement tool to continue the debate on how Scotland can become a low carbon society – highlighting the action people can take now to make this vision a reality.

Event tickets website, Fairer Greener Edinburgh conversation, 25th November
Our Edinburgh event will allow delegates to share perspectives on where we are, and how to ensure our Fairer Greener Scotland ideas [arising from the event] are made a reality by 2030. We are pleased to announce that Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform will join the Fairer Greener Scotland event. The event takes place on Wednesday, November 25th – 17:30 until 20:30.

Event tickets website, Fairer Greener Glasgow conversation, 1st December
Our Glasgow event will allow delegates to share perspectives on where we are, and how to ensure our Fairer Greener Scotland ideas [arising from the event] are made a reality by 2030. The event takes place on Tuesday, 1st December – 17:30 until 20:30 .

Our Fairer Scotland Planning Event – Midlothian

On Wednesday 14th October a group of 24 people from the local area joined Scottish Government staff at the Newbattle College, Dalkeith, for our third Fairer Scotland Planning Event.
On Wednesday 14th October a group of 24 people from the local area joined Scottish Government staff at the Newbattle College, Dalkeith, for our third Fairer Scotland Planning Event.
On Wednesday 14th October a group of 24 people from the local area joined Scottish Government staff at the Newbattle College, Dalkeith, for our third Fairer Scotland Planning Event.

The goal? To discuss and scrutinise ways in which they could plan together to create a Fairer Scotland by 2030.

Why not browse our dialogue application and comment on the ideas raised in Dalkeith directly? You can also share your own ideas!
Why not browse our dialogue application and comment on the ideas raised in Dalkeith directly? You can also share your own ideas!

fairerscotland – the story so far
The Fairer Scotland discussion – launched in June – has already engaged with a broad mix of people, right across the country, to prioritise practical steps that could be taken to help create a fairer country.

These Listening Events have been taking place across the length and breadth of the nation. The feedback has been superb, and we’ve heard from a wide range of people.

These conversations provided a wealth of ideas to take forward into more focused discussions. Now, armed with these ideas, we’re shaping them into a set of recommendations via our new focused Planning Events.

Crucially, the real architects of change here are you – the citizens of Scotland.

By offering people a say in what a Fairer Scotland should look like in 2030, and working together, we intend on making the vision for a Fairer Scotland a reality. Our Midlothian event is the third of a series of eight Planning Events across Scotland which will do this.

“These planning events are a new and different way of doing government. Rather than writing a long policy document and asking people to read and comment on it, we want to create our policy ideas for a Fairer Scotland together with the people of Scotland. We want to be an open and accessible government and that is why we are asking people, up and down the country, to work with us to create a set of recommendations to bring the country’s ideas for a fairer Scotland to life.”
(Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice)

Themes
Our panel considered eight key areas of policy, and what changes might be made for the betterment of the nation.

These included:

  • Income and Employment
  • Welfare
  • Governance and Participation
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Equality
  • People and Communities
  • Children and Young People

The Midlothian mind-set
On the back of our last event in Inverness, we had some great [and new] ideas from our Midlothian panel. We’ve attached these ideas to this post [below] to give you an overview of the scope and scale of the discussion thus far.

The Midlothian Event provided us with some fresh ideas and suggestions to carry forward into the next planning event, including:

  • The desire to see a reform of the tax system
  • The call to include parenting / caring in the GDP
  • Ensuring community petitions carry weight and influence
  • Personal health budgets for patients
  • Working to simply the process of house building
  • Ensuring community assets are owned by the community
  • Encouraging community led development
  • Free, universal childcare for all

By offering people a say in what a Fairer Scotland should look like in 2030, and working together, we intend on making the vision for a Fairer Scotland a reality.
By offering people a say in what a Fairer Scotland should look like in 2030, and working together, we intend on making the vision for a Fairer Scotland a reality.
Share your own ideas!
But the conversation doesn’t stop there! The suggestions from Midlothian have been shared on our dialogue application and you can browse and comment on these ideas directly. Once you arrive at the site, registration is quick and simple.

Thereafter you can:

  • Comment on the ideas raised so far
  • Create and share your own ideas.

Perhaps you disagree with some of the ideas raised? Or maybe you have a better suggestion? There’s lots of room for new ideas across our eight themes [and beyond] so go on – get involved!

What next?
We’ve had four further Planning events since Midlothian – in Dumfries, Stornoway, Dundee and Inverclyde. We’ll publishing a post or two covering those [brilliant] events in due course. However, our next Planning Event takes place next Tuesday (17th November) in Glasgow.

We look forward to continuing the conversation then! Our events page lists all the remaining Planning Events. We hope you can join us at one of them.

If not, do not fret, there are lots of other ways to get involved.

Community empowerment proved a big issue at our Midlothian Planning Event.
Community empowerment proved a big issue at our Midlothian Planning Event.

In the longer term, the priorities and ideas that come from our Planning Events will feed into a final Citizen Forum in December.

The Forum will host a broadly representative audience made up of people from across the country who will work with policy makers, experts, and political representatives to finalise a series of recommendations.


Other information
Website, Fairer Scotland dialogue application
Visit the dialogue application to view some of the great ideas already submitted in the Fairer Scotland conversation! You can comment on these ideas, and share some of your own. Go on, get involved – towards a Fairer Scotland.

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Income and Employment priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Welfare priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Governance and Participation priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Health priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Housing priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Equality priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event People and Communities priorities

Image, Midlothian Planning Event Children and Young People priorities

The safety net or the spider’s web?

Hello Fairer Scotland! My name is Dane Thomson and I’m delighted to have been asked to write a guest blog for you today. My blog is going to be a no holds barred account of my short term experience of life on ‘benefits’.

First – the back story. I’ve worked hard since I was 14. I’m from Fife originally but moved through to Musselburgh to study at university. Despite a tough couple of years emotionally, I stuck in and succeeded in getting my 2:1 degree.

Fast forward to today. I’m now nearly 27. After securing a couple of very rewarding internships and making some great contacts, I’ve found myself unemployed.

Unfortunately, this is the case for so many other graduates.

So why am I writing and what do I have to say?
I’m going to be honest, before recently attending the Support in Mind Scotland Members’ meeting on the 30th October, I’d never really reflected on a Fairer Scotland.

Of course, I’ve always believed in treating people kindly (no less than the manner I’d like to be treated) and I’ve always gone about my daily business with that in mind. I have made an active point of being there for my loved ones.

However, having been unemployed for the first time in my teen/adult life this year, and having to make the pride shattering move to signing on at the job centre, it has really highlighted to me – first hand – how unfair the ‘system’ really is. For us all.

We need to travel beyond rhetoric:

“aye, this is terrible so it is” / *shakes head*

I see this on a daily basis on Twitter, mainly from political parties.

When it comes to ‘benefits’, we need to turn this all around and work hard to create the Fairer Scotland we all require. In any case – ‘benefits’?? Shouldn’t that be ‘social security’?

I don’t see any benefits to ‘benefits’. I’m skint, and I’m struggling.

Now, before I move any further – yes – I’m eternally grateful that there is a ‘system’ there which acts as a safety net for those in need.

But is this really a safety net designed to help you?

Graduation picture of Dane Thomson
In my experience the ‘benefits‘ system isn’t a safety net – it’s more akin to a spider’s web, which traps and binds you.
I’m going to call it out, and say that in my experience, it’s more akin to a spider’s web, which traps and binds you.

I have felt its hard grip around my neck on a number of occasions, in trying to better myself, in working hard to get myself out the financial mess I’m in just now.

Why a spider’s web?
I’m not trying to be overly negative. This is real life. Consider this:

1/ I’ve been driving myself hard to find a job. I approached the job centre for help. I badly needed shoes to go to an interview, as my own were in bits and over-worn. It was a graduate job interview and I wanted to make the best impression.

So, I went into the job centre so excited and proud of myself for securing the interview, only to be met with a very rude, snippy clerk who remarked patronisingly “and does this job have any prospects”. She then walked off, started talking about me to her colleague, before dismissively spitting “see the welfare fund”.

I stood, stunned, trying to reiterate that the head of marketing had called me personally for the interview – and that I was in need.

I came out in floods of tears, crushed if I’m being honest. My upset only increased when offers came flooding in from my friends to buy me shoes. Their kindness touched me, but embarrassed me, as I don’t like having to rely on anyone else.

2/ Another example. My payment was delayed for five days due to paper work processing etc. Five days. When you’re signing on, this is a life time. Detrimental effects? Try struggling to eat for 5 days!

During this delay, I was then signposted to the saviour that is the ‘welfare fund’. Only, they turned me away because I had £3.09 in my bank account – instead of 0.00!

How far would £3.09 have got me? Not very far!

The examples above highlight some of the steps I’d taken to get myself out of my current unemployed situation – securing an interview and scrutinising all forms of help available.

Only to be crushed and humiliated by an unpleasant clerk who treated me – by way of default – like a ‘sponger’.

I’ve paid tax and NI all my adult working life – surely £12.99 for a new pair of shoes for an interview was hardly a huge ask? It took all my courage to ask for this help. Soul destroying stuff.

Just to be clear, I’m not just sitting back and making comments about the ‘system’ whilst doing nothing to better myself.

I spend hours searching and applying for jobs, with each application tailored. I pluck up the courage and sign up for networking events with people I don’t know in a bid to get myself out there. I’ve made my job hunt public through creating my own employment campaign Employ Daney – opening myself up to criticism.

Employ Daney was all organic. The idea came from me. The hours of promotional content comes from me.

So, when I consider available support in order to find myself a job in the ‘grad’ real world, this does not come from the job centre.

It comes from a don’t give up attitude – and the support of my loved ones, who remind me every-day why I should never give up.

What three positives can I take from this experience?

  • I have learned to budget better than I’ve ever done before. You have to! There’s no choice! But I can say that I’ve learned a good couple of tricks to save money
  • By keeping my loved ones close at times like this, I’ve managed get by – even if it’s just a friend treating me to lunch. I honestly don’t know where I’d have been without my family and friends, and I’m eternally grateful to them
  • Whilst I’ve always had healthy respect for job seekers, I now have new found empathy and respect. I have been there. I have walked in their busted shoes.
    What does a Fairer Scotland look like to me?

  • People are helped in their time of need, instead of facing ridicule
  • People are listened to, really listened to – without pre-judgements. We should never assume anything
  • Our Government takes action on their promises to empower the poorer residents of our nation. It’s the same story, the rich are getting richer, and the poorer are getting poorer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post on the Fairer Scotland blog. I feel very privileged to have been asked to take part.


Other websites
Website, Support in Mind Scotland
Support in Mind Scotland seek to support and empower all those affected by mental illness, including family members, carers and supporters

Website, Employ Daney

Website, Dane Thomson’s blog