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Scottish Parliament Event Report

Gary Seath 9 months ago

Influencing Policy Media

Putting lived experience of children and young people at the heart of policy and influencing.

Forces Children Scotland welcomed over seventy-five attendees, including policymakers, educators, and professionals, to a showcase event at the Scottish Parliament, kindly sponsored by Alexander Stewart MSP.

The event held on 04 October celebrated the success of the Forces Life Board Game and Comic Book, and called on policymakers to listen to the voice of children and young people from armed forces and veteran families and to ensure they are actively involved in decision-making processes about their future.

The are over 12,500 children and young people from armed forces communities in Scotland, many of whom have told Forces Children Scotland that civilian audiences simply do not understand the lives they lead and could do much more to meet their unique support needs.

The co-development of the Forces Life Board Game and Comic Book delivers an innovative, creative way of helping civilian audiences better understand what it’s like to be a forces child today, and has provided a foundation to launch further work.

Alexander Stewart MSP has very kindly supported our Forces Life Project from the very beginning of the creative process, having submitted a motion of support for the project in the Scottish Parliament in May 2021.

Alexander visited the young people and team involved during the creative phase later that summer and then sponsored a three-day exhibition to help raise awareness of the final products to policymakers from across the political spectrum.

Speaking at the beginning of the event, Alexander commended the young people and team involved in the making of the board game and comic book and reinforced the importance of co-production in developing projects, services, and campaigns.

Forces Children Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer, Laura Falconer, described the positives and challenges of forces life experienced by children and young people and introduced the charity’s five policy calls to make Scotland a place to realise potential and thrive.

The charity launched its influencing strategy last month to launch a series of calls on policymakers to make Scotland a place for children and young people from armed forces and veteran families to realise their potential and thrive.

Titled ‘A Force for Meaningful Change’, the strategy calls on policymakers to work with Forces Children Scotland to achieve outcomes across five topics.

  • A strong evidence base
  • Upholding children’s rights
  • Positive mental health and wellbeing
  • A thriving education
  • Successful transition to civilian life

Cadence and Grace were involved in the making of the Forces Life Board Game and Comic Book and joined the charity’s Gary Seath to deliver a short panel discussion to provide further insight into the co-production process in making incredible things happen.

Attendees learned more about the inspiration behind the co-development of the resources, and how participation in the project helped to develop new skills, build confidence, and forge lasting connections with peers across Scotland.

Cadence said:

“It was a really fun experience and a great way to showcase and explain all of the work that has taken place recently.”

Sophia and Heather then joined Gary to introduce the charity’s Tornado of Change Campaign, who shared emotive stories about making the change from military to civilian life with their families, and what they hope will be achieved through the project.

The Tornado of Change  Campaign focuses on three short thematic videos to help civilian audiences enhance empathy and understanding, and to find out more about what they can do to help make things a little easier.

Sophia said:

“Forces Children Scotland has given me amazing experiences, such as this event, that I wouldn’t have elsewhere. It felt good to have my voice heard.”

Attendees then had the opportunity to learn more about the charity’s wider work through its world café presentation, providing opportunities to speak to the team and young people about specific policy calls, projects, services, and campaigns.

Forces Children Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer, Laura Falconer, said:

“Thank you to all the MSPs, colleagues, supporters, young people, and their families who attended our parliamentary event last night and who contributed to making the evening such a success.

“We were delighted to be able to highlight the work Forces Children Scotland does, as always, putting children and young people at the heart of all we do.

“I hope hearing the lived experience of our young people who so eloquently shared their stories helped spread a greater understanding of the reality of being part of a military family for many.

“We are very proud of the pieces of work highlighted at the event- the Forces Life Board game and our Tornado of Change Campaign.

“We hope the clear policy calls within our Influencing Strategy demonstrate what needs to change to improve outcomes for this seldom-heard group of children and young people.

An attendee said:

“The event was inspiring on so many fronts from tabletop presentations to the short videos and presentations from the young people. It was also encouraging to see so many elected representatives taking an interest and getting involved in discussion with your staff; just need to turn the discussion to action.”

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