Shining a light on hope in secure care

A report published by the University of Strathclyde and Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ), on behalf of the University of Strathclyde’s Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, considers how the concept of hope might help to promote better futures for vulnerable and high risk young people who are involved in secure care.

The Talking Hope Report was written by the University of Strathclyde’s Dr Emma Miller and researcher Dr Katherine Baxter. It shares outcomes and progress from the Talking Hope project, which explores the factors identified as important by young people, and the staff who support them, in achieving hope.

The report focuses on Phase 1 and 2 of the project, which involved the University of Strathclyde, CYCJ, the Good Shepherd Centre, East Ayrshire Health and Care Partnership and Ayrshire and Arran CAMHS. While the report acknowledges the tensions and challenges involved, there are examples of great practice within and between partner agencies.

Dr Emma Miller, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, said:

“Children and young people involved in secure care are often marginalised, and can find themselves feeling stigmatised and misunderstood. Our aim with this research has been to give these young people a voice and ensure that their strengths, hopes and aspirations are taken into consideration in decision making. We also wanted to make sure that the staff who support them were given a voice too, as their hope is essential to maintaining hope amongst the young people.

“We’ve tried to break through some of the perceptions people hold about secure care and young people who are considered to be high risk. We found that hope is dynamic and although people are not used to talking about it, hope can significantly change the conversation. We also explored the connections between social factors, key relationships and material conditions which can help to maintain hope for young people going through transitions, such as from secure care back into the community.

“This research has enabled us to open up conversations about hope and to develop tools to allow these conversations to continue amongst young people and adults.”

Key messages from the research highlight:

  • The benefits of making time for respectful conversations, which include the voices of young people, to challenge assumptions and recognise the contribution that everyone can make
  • The importance of relationships, including those that are practice-based, for vulnerable young people, who need support to build and maintain hope, to imagine a better future and take steps to make that happen.
  • The role of interagency collaboration and a Whole System Approach in further maintaining hope for practitioners, as a precondition for promoting hope amongst young people
  • Effective supervision and support for practitioners and centre staff that enables them ‘to get up in the morning and do their job’
  • Implications for young people when transitions out of secure care to adult services are not managed well
  • The need for comprehensive mental health provision for children and young people

The Talking Hope project was funded in Phase 1 by the European Social Innovation Fund in partnership with the Scottish Government, and in Phase II by the Scottish Government and the Good Shepherd Centre. Phase 3 of Talking Hope is due to commence before the end of 2019. It will take the tools and opportunities for Talking Hope out to a wider audience, and continue to capture and share good practice, whilst also continuing to expand understanding about hope in relation to risk.

For more information, check out the Talking Hope blog. To learn more about Scotland’s secure care estate, check out CYCJ’s website.

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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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