At the official launch of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, praised a reduction in youth offending, but urged those present to ‘keep striving’ in improving the life chances of children and young people.
Young adults from a number of European countries joined Mr Swinney to mark the launch at the University of Strathclyde on June 28. The Institute, a partnership between the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) and the University of Strathclyde, will bring together world-class professionals and researchers with the shared vision of ensuring children and young people facing adversity have what they need to reach their full potential.
It will work closely with the practitioners, services and systems supporting children and young people, including those affected by offending, and those in need of protection, to investigate and tackle the root causes of social inequality and adverse childhood experiences.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This Government is committed to giving every child born in Scotland the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and giving young people the best possible chance in life is the central purpose of the new Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures.
“The Institute will help protect children and help them overcome adversity by drawing on the skills and knowledge of professionals in Scotland and working internationally. It is an exciting collaboration, with CELCIS and CYCJ at its heart – two organisations, funded by the Scottish Government, with a wealth of expertise in supporting young people in Scotland.”
At the launch, young adults Fouzy, Raquel and Arturs shared their experiences of child stigma from France, Spain and Latvia. “Society needs to learn not to make children feel they are worthless or less than others,” said Arturs. Raquel added: “We are excited about this Institute, we feel you are going to be innovative in the way you will do things.”
Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the Institute of Inspiring Children’s Futures, said: “We have a bold ambition to create a world where children and young people have what they need to reach their full potential, particularly children who experience adversity.
“We will be focusing initially on the challenges that bear most heavily on the lives of children in adversity: stigma and its profound effects in childhood; economic and financial pressures that can make raising children even harder for families; the promotion of young people’s educational opportunities and outcomes; and the benefits, as well as the misuses, of digital technology.
“Communities and family relationships increasingly face huge stresses; our job is to support children, young people and their families, by working with those who are developing policies, undertaking research, leading public services and delivering at the front line.
“Fundamental to all of this, of course, is that we also listen to the voices of the children and young people themselves, and their families, who offer crucial perspectives on what matters most.”
Claire Lightowler, Director of CYCJ, said: “The new Institute is a significant development for both the University of Strathclyde and the sector. The partnership opens up doors for our combined work to spread wider and further and with greater impact.”
The Institute of Inspiring Children’s Futures will be driven by a commitment to promote the rights of children nationally and internationally, guided by the principles within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.