Church-supported youth charities join campaign to improve lives of young Scots

The Church of Scotland and church-supported youth charities the GK Experience and PEEK have joined Children in Scotland on its 25th anniversary to make ’25 Calls’ to improve the lives of children and young people in Scotland.

Somer and Divine
Somer and Divine from the GK Experience, who made the number one call for Children in Scotland.

The GK Experience and Possibilities for Each and Every Kid (PEEK) came together to urge the number one call: “Change the language of poverty: young people deserve dignity, not stigma and discrimination.”

The call focusses on the need to move away from tragic narratives about young people in poorer areas and recognise them and their communities as complex, with both strengths and challenges.

Somer Umeed Bakhsh, who is currently facing deportation to Pakistan, joined young people from his group the GK Experience and the charity PEEK in demanding real change.

Somer, Divine, Josh and Rebecca said: “We need you, everyone in society, to think about how you use our story. We know this is not always easy. The media want to highlight the challenges, charities need to justify the great work that they do, and funders want to know that they are reaching those in need.

“But we want you to focus more on the achievements and difference that can be made rather than the problems we face.”

‘Powerfully reflecting the range of concerns amongst young people’

The full list of calls, ranging from specific policy demands to broader calls for cultural change, were unveiled at a campaign launch event and 25th anniversary celebration at the City Arts Centre in Edinburgh on Wednesday 10 October.

Other calls include:

  • Introducing a £5 top-up to child benefit;
  • Reforming the Gender Recognition Act to better support trans young people;
  • Cutting cars from school drop-offs to improve air quality;
  • and embedding understanding of autism in initial teacher training and ongoing CPD (following the findings of a recent report by Children in Scotland, Scottish Autism and the National Autistic Society).

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“Our calls powerfully reflect the range of concerns amongst young people and those advocating for them in 2018, including the impact of stigma, the need for improved mental health support for children, and why we must recognise that tackling child poverty, abuse and neglect requires a collective effort.

“This campaign marks the extent to which children’s issues have been driven up the Scottish and UK Government’s agendas over the 25 years of our existence – and how continued partnership is the key to delivering on our joint ambitions to improve children’s lives over the next quarter century.”

Somer with John Swinney
Somer Umeed Bakhsh with Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the recent Church of Scotland parliamentary reception to mark Year of Young People.

Contributions to the campaign encompass experts across the children’s sector, members and Children in Scotland partners, and the charity’s staff.

Articles by the contributors outlining each of the 25 calls have been published in a special edition of the Children in Scotland Magazine, available from today, and will be shared on Children in Scotland’s website and social media channels over the next month.

Read more about the 25 Calls campaign on the Children in Scotland website.

Follow the campaign on social media using #25Calls.