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Cyrenians’ ‘Keeping Families Together’ Cross-Sector Advisory Board Meets for First Time

17th September 2021

Cyrenians’ ‘Keeping Families Together with CashBack for Communities’ project held its first cross-sector advisory board meeting on Wednesday, 15th September.

Experts from across the sector, including Cyrenians, The Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, Scottish Government, Aid and Abet, Police Scotland Violence Reduction Unit, University of Strathclyde, East Lothian Council, the Care Inspectorate and Good Shepherd Centre joined the first ever ‘Keeping Families Together’ Advisory Board meeting to share best practices. The aim is to ensure whole family support for those currently residing in Scotland’s secure centres, to help #KeepThePromise of the Independent Care Review.

Findings from the Independent Care Review demonstrated a need for change, and initiated The Promise Scotland. Published in February 2020, The Promise sets out an ambition for all children in Scotland to grow up “safe, loved, respected, and able to realise their full potential.”

Currently, in Scotland, up to 84 children can be in secure accommodation at any one time. The aim of these secure care centres is “to provide intensive support and safe boundaries to help these highly vulnerable children re-engage and move forward positively in their communities”.

However, the ‘Keeping Families Together’ Project aims to support children and their families to rebuild relationships and return to the family home wherever possible. It has been identified that lack of family contact can be an issue for those in secure care, and this lack of contact can frequently lead to breakdown in communication and relationship fractures, which can have severe consequences for young people, their families, and the wider community.

Kerry Watson, Service Manager at Cyrenians, said “At what can only be an enormously stressful and difficult period in a child’s life, it is only right that both the child and the rest of the family receive the support they need to maintain those relationships, and for the child, where possible, to return home with a positive route forward. Bringing together experts from across the sector ensures that we are able to provide whole family support, meaning that any decisions made are in the best interest of the child, including returning home.”

Dr Cara Jardine, Chair of the ‘Keeping Families Together’ Advisory Group, added, “The past year has added additional pressures, with COVID impacting on family’s ability to visit and stay connected. It is imperative that as restrictions ease we focus on providing meaningful support that ensures the rights of the children we support are upheld and advocated for. By putting the child’s needs at the centre of any decision making process we will be able to break the cycle of inter-generational trauma, homelessness and disadvantage, ensuring more positive outcomes for all.”

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