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First Minister makes ‘personal commitment’ to fix care system in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon met care-experienced young people in Glasgow on Friday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets care-experienced young people in Glasgow(Lewis McKenzie/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets care-experienced young people in Glasgow(Lewis McKenzie/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is making a “personal commitment” to fix the care system for young people in Scotland.

The First Minister met care-experienced young people in Glasgow on Friday, when she presented with a letter urging her to take action.

It comes as a report by the charity Who Cares? Scotland, suggests young people in care are having to fight for basic rights on a daily basis.

I'm absolutely committed to this, this is a personal commitment from me, as well as a political commitment Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister said the Scottish Government would be taking a proactive approach to addressing issues raised ahead of the conclusions of a independent review, set up in 2017, being published.

“I’m spending a lot of time with care-experienced young people as part of the commitment I’ve made to them that we’re going to fix the system and make it better than it has been in years gone past,” she said.

“We established an independent care review, which is taking a holistic, fundamental look at the care system, but I also made a commitment that we would make changes as we went along, rather than simply wait until the review makes its recommendations.

“So since the review was set up, we have done things like exempt care-experienced young people from council tax, increased the bursaries they get when they go to college or university, announced plans to help brothers and sisters stay together.

“So I’m absolutely committed to this, this is a personal commitment from me, as well as a political commitment.”

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Care experienced young people gave the First Minister a letter urging her to take action to address issues with the system (Lewis McKenzie/PA)

Ms Sturgeon said having spoken with young people who either are or have been in care, the experiences they had of the system were varied.

She insisted the Scottish Government is determined to help ensure all young people in Scotland have equal opportunities growing up, whether they have been in care or not.

“Society has got a big responsibility to the young people who end up in its care and we’ve got to have a system that doesn’t let them down, that gives them the same chances as any other young people will have, and fundamentally, a system that makes them feel loved and nurtured as well,” she said.

“I’m spending a lot of time just now with young people who are in the care system or who have had experience of the care system in the past and the things they tell me are very varied.

“They talk about lack of stability growing up, having too many placements and being shifted and shunted around the system, they talk about being separated from brothers and sisters, on to the challenges they face later  on in life from not having a family network to fall back on, or the famous bank of mum and dad, so it makes it more difficult to go through education.”

The First Minister added: “So these are all things that we are determined to fix.

“That said, there’s also lots of good things in the care system, there are a lot of very committed adults working there who do their best for young people.

“And as I’ve found out myself in speaking to so many young people, there are some fantastic success stories – young people who through their own determination are making great things of their lives but we don’t want them to be the exception, we want to make sure that every young person has opportunities, even although they’ve grown up in the care system.”

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