Strathclyde University project launches ‘reservoir of hope’

The University of Strathclyde led Talking Hope project is sharing how it is working towards hopeful futures and improved outcomes for Scotland’s children and young people with significant support needs, with the launch of a new website:

Talking Hope connects experience, theory and practice through conversation and relationships, to find hope with children and young people who are in (or on the edges of) secure care.

Supported by partners in practice and academia over three phases since 2018, Talking Hope aims to create space for more hopeful conversations. To do this, it explores the factors identified as important by young people, their families and the staff who support them, in achieving hope and wellbeing.

Talking Hope has supported honest and safe conversations to happen amongst young people, social workers, health workers and residential care staff, enabling them to share their different experiences, perspectives, and views on challenges and opportunities.

Following a break in 2020, the project launched phase three in October 2021, with emphasis on creating a toolkit in the form of a website, which became a ‘hope reservoir’. The reservoir idea came from practitioners who wanted a space to hold onto hope for times when hope is running low.

It is easy to lose confidence and self-belief when times are hard. The reservoir can help by reminding us of better times and things that did work, including hopeful moments captured in words, images, stories and experiences.

The website has three themes:

  1. Participation and hope
  2. Transitions, change and hope
  3. Hopeful leadership

The project’s ethos of hope and participation aligns with seminal changes to Scotland’s care and policy landscape, such as The Promise, the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law and the introduction of the Children’s Care and Justice Bill.

Fraser McKinlay, Chief Executive, The Promise Scotland, said:

“The independent care review was clear about the importance that hope and natural relationships can play in the lives of children and young people who are care experienced, particularly for those in secure care settings. The conversations facilitated by the Talking Hope project about how to promote more hopeful conversations and connections with and about young people supported by services, are an important example of putting values driven ideas into action. The Promise Scotland welcomes the new website which will be a valuable resource for so many seeking to #KeepThePromise across Scotland.”

The Talking Hope team is delighted to share that CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, is creating an online Hope Reservoir for its annual SIRCC Conference, Scotland’s national conference for residential child care. The conference is free to attend and will take place online on 9 – 10 November, providing an opportunity to test the idea on a much larger scale.

Joanne McMeeking, Head of Improving Care Experiences at CELCIS, said:

“Following two years of managing through a pandemic, we have heard extraordinary stories of staff and practitioners working in residential child care who continue to find ways around these challenges, to improve the lives of the children and young people they care for and support. We know, and have seen, how love and hope is at the heart of their practice, even in times of immense pressure. In facilitating an online Hope Reservoir with SIRCC attendees, we hope to create an online space where staff can find comfort in examples of hopeful practice, learn from others, and share their own stories of hope.”

Dr Emma Miller, project lead at the University of Strathclyde, said:

“As human beings, we are hardwired for connection, and conversation forms the glue that creates connection and supports relationships – which are essential to hope and wellbeing, and that’s what we’re all about at Talking Hope.

“Young people with high support needs and their families need to understand what is happening and why it is happening, as well as what the possibilities are – it is important for them to have agency and hope. Staff shared with us how they work to understand what makes the young person and family tick to support their participation and agree on the best decisions.

“Talking Hope works with people to find the right way of having a conversation, which is different for different people. Whether it was staff telling us how they felt isolated and demoralised during the pandemic, or young people saying they don’t feel they can trust adults to record their conversations, we want people to know that we’re here, we’re listening – and we’re always learning.

“Our website is a way of sharing learning and the voices of young people, families and staff. It includes practical tools and tips that staff can use.  We also hope that people will use this website as a kind of hope reservoir – and may feel encouraged to create their own!”

Talking Hope is led by the University of Strathclyde and was funded in Phase I by the European Social Innovation Fund in partnership with the Scottish Government, in Phase II by the Scottish Government and the Good Shepherd Centre, and in Phase III by Scottish Government and includem.

Follow @Talking_hope on Twitter.

Contact Us

Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

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