We find ourselves in the most challenging of times. The collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic has called on us all to adapt how we live our individual lives – but it too, has ushered in changes to the services we provide at Includem. Our team continues to work tirelessly to develop new, creative ways to engage with and support young people throughout ‘lockdown’ and we still provide vital financial and material support to families through our Young Person’s Fund.
We can answer this question with an emphatic YES.
Why? First and foremost because we recognise Article 1 of the UNCRC which defines a child as anyone under the age of 18 and therefore they should be offered the full protection of their rights.
The fundamental principles of our unique Children’s Hearing System are that the welfare of the child is paramount and for the measures to be effective, the child must be viewed in the context of their family, regardless of the cause for concern which brought them before a Hearing. As far back as 1964, Lord Kilbrandon recognised that punishing young people for their behaviour which resulted from failures in their own care and upbringing, was not the right response. More than fifty years later, these principles remain unaltered and for that reason we support the raising of the age of referral.
It won’t be of any surprise to Staf members to read that the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated almost wholesale change in how we operate at Includem. This has been the case for almost everyone, third sector and beyond.
As an organisation delivering face-to-face support to children, young people and families across Scotland, lockdown presented huge logistical challenges for us. Yet, for every challenge presented, creativity and innovation abounded.
Meg Thomas, our Head of Programme Design & Policy Management, wrote for The Herald on how Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people are at risk of not having their voices heard as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
THE Covid-19 emergency has impacted all of our lives in ways we could never have imagined. Yet, it is undeniable that its negative effects are impacting those who were already suffering and marginalised more than most.
When we start working with a young person we make a promise that we will always listen to them and we will be with them every step of the way on their journey with us. That hasn’t changed, but how we do it has.
Social distancing has forced us into our homes and out of our comfort zone in hundreds of ways. How we have conversations and sustain relationships is a huge part of that. Phone calls and video calls can be awkward for anyone – conversation just isn’t as natural as it is when you’re actually with someone.
So, it’s completely understandable that trying to engage a young person on the phone for longer than three-and-a-half minutes can be a challenge that even the most accomplished chatterbox would struggle with. And it’s not about keeping young people on the phone for the sake of it; we really want to have meaningful, supportive conversations with them – that’s why we’re here.
However, if there’s one thing that this bizarre lockdown situation has taught me, it’s how to be creative. As I trawled through the internet looking for ideas on how to make a phone call fun and engaging, I came across some very simple – but very effective – games to play.