Barnado’s Scotland, Nurture Week – 9th Feb 2017

Motion S5M-03336: Barnardo’s Scotland, Nurture Week (Stuart McMillan MSP)

“That the Parliament welcomes Barnardo’s Scotland Nurture Week, which runs from 13 to 19 February 2017; understands that this is a week-long series of events and activities aimed at showcasing the importance of nurture and attachment in child development; notes that Barnardo’s works in Inverclyde in partnership with schools and nurseries and takes a unique approach to health and wellbeing by working to embed nurture principles in early years settings and the classroom; further notes that this approach provides wrap-around support to families with the aim of using nurture principles to support the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people as well as help raise attainment, and notes calls for all parties to come together to support this approach.”

(From 21:12)

I thank Stuart McMillan for bringing the debate to the chamber to welcome Barnardo’s Scotland nurture week. A special thank you also goes to Gordon MacDonald for the loan of his glasses so that I can actually see my speech.

As a father of two, I stress the importance of building a supportive and long-lasting relationship with my children—a relationship that has lasted throughout their childhood and is just beginning to touch their young adult lives. However, as any parent will know, the first few years of a child’s life are crucial for their emotional, social, psychological, neurological and physical development. To support children who have insecure attachments, all members of the Scottish Parliament should encourage leaders and players in education to promote a nurturing approach to help to create strong attachments, which are the foundations of children’s positive emotional development.

Key to that mantra is Barnardo’s Scotland, which is Scotland’s largest children’s charity. It provides more than 130 local services throughout Scotland and works with more than 26,500 vulnerable children, young people and their families. It provides help with issues such as attachment and early development, it supports parents in the community and it provides guidance and advice on a case-by-case basis. That individualised service is a distinguishing feature of Barnardo’s Scotland. The charity has successfully developed a structure in which staff can acknowledge and respond to children, young people and families based on their individual circumstances, needs and background, rather than on their age, gender, class or status.

I am sure that my fellow MSPs will agree that closing the poverty-related attainment gap, especially through working with young and vulnerable children, is a priority. Barnardo’s Scotland has taken a unique approach to health and wellbeing in order to ensure that children who are living in the most disadvantaged areas are receiving as much attention as possible to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Support services in Fife are an excellent example of how Barnardo’s Scotland individualises its support case by case, especially by working with other support groups including the Fife advocacy forum, Fife Council and NHS Fife. Barnardo’s child and family support service has been providing services to children and families in need for more than a decade. That Fife-based service currently has eight strands of service, including children’s rights, intensive family support, assessment of parenting capacity, family carers, family health, a nurture hub and substance abuse services.

I stress that those services often do not just involve a one-off appointment; families are encouraged to follow up with staff for up to a year after the initial meeting, which ensures that the services that Barnardo’s offers can make a long-lasting impact on our communities. I have confidence that Barnardo’s Scotland nurture week will bring awareness not only to children and young people who are suffering, but—crucially—to parents, who often take on an extremely emotional and physical role in dealing with the day-to-day struggles of their children in need.

Barnardo’s nurture service offers a space not only for children to express themselves, but for parents of vulnerable children to meet and socialise, essentially by creating ad hoc support networks. Barnardo’s Scotland is aiming to create a domino effect by fostering support and extending that support in everyday life, not just under the care of compassionate staff and volunteers.

Crucially, the getting it right for every child agenda brings all those initiatives together. Nurturing Inverclyde has set a great example for the rest of the country by putting children at the centre of the local community. Inverclyde Council has adapted GIRFEC to suit the needs of the local area; I call on every constituency to do the same by working with and consulting their council services and leaders of community development planning, and with a range of stakeholders who can contribute to wellbeing outcomes.

In conclusion, I once again thank Stuart McMillan for this important debate, and I commend Barnardo’s for its invaluable contribution to Scotland’s young people and their families.


Link to the Scottish Parliament Official Report.

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