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Putting lived experience first in influencing

Gary Seath 1 year ago

Influencing Policy Participation

Forces Children Scotland is co-producing a new influencing strategy.

We have formed a working group with young people from armed forces and veteran families to work on this project, which started in December last year.

The group has got together via Zoom and a creative residential in Aviemore since then to make fantastic progress in lots of different ways.

All of this sounds very exciting – Carly Elliott, Forces Children Scotland’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Policy Lead, tells us more about the project, what’s happened so far and the next steps.

What we’re doing

In Forces Children Scotland’s new Strategic Plan, we stated our intent to increase our policy and influencing work, ensuring lived experience and views of young people from armed forces and veteran families are considered in policymaking and practice design.

To make sure we do this in a considered, informed, safe and impactful way, we are designing a new strategy which will outline what we plan to influence, how we will go about it and the habits that will underpin our policy and influencing activity.

It won’t be surprising to know that in true Forces Children Scotland style, this project is co-produced with staff, trustees and crucially, young people from armed forces and veteran families across Scotland.

Why we’re doing it

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child identifies that children should be able to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Protection of this human right becomes even more important when decisions about children’s lives are made by adults or where long-standing structures play a determining role.

Children from armed forces and veteran families can have many positive and challenging experiences, different to that of their civilian peers. Decision-making can shape where they live if they have to move due to parental postings which can lead to periods of separation from their serving parent during deployments.

We recognise the importance of our role in making sure the voice of young people from armed forces and veteran communities is heard by decision-makers.

That is why we’re co-producing our approach to influencing; to be guided by those with lived experience and to ensure these young people actively participate in the design of policy and practice impacting their lives.

How are things going

Our project team have met to define why we want to influence change and discover what our influencing goals should be. This has included a residential where we took on the role of ‘Detectives and Scientists’ to discover what problems might exist for this community, and what the solutions could be.

We have explored effective ‘storytelling’, learning how to shape up a call-to-action that is both clear and effective, inspiring change or driving decision-making. To deliver this learning opportunity in a fun way we hosted mock interviews where we had the opportunity to present campaign calls to the evening news!

Throughout the process, we’ve made sure we stay true to our co-production process by continually exploring and revising our goals to make sure they are the right ones, ensuring the full project team of staff, trustees and young people feel content with what we decide upon.

What’s our next steps

Our project team will start to think about what will help us achieve our influencing goals. This will involve undertaking a mapping process to understand which stakeholders will be key, hopefully identifying lots of brilliant collaboration opportunities.

Choosing the right tools for each of our goals will make sure we are flexible to opportunities and creative in our methods for achieving change. This might include digital communication methods, understanding how best to use the law and growing community engagement.

Lastly, when we come together next, we will work on defining our influencing habits, making sure that we clearly define the steps we should take every time we seek to influence change. By doing so we can be confident in the quality and standard of our influencing projects.


The success of our influencing work cannot be achieved alone.

If you are interested working alongside us, we would be excited to hear from you. Join us in becoming a force for big changes!

Contact us