Charles McFarlane (Who Cares? Scotland) – Reflections on the Final Stigma in Childhood Project Seminar

On Wednesday the 30th August 2017 I had the privilege of participating in several workshops and listening to great keynote speakers. The seminar was opened by Professor Andrew Kendrick (University of Strathclyde) who was brilliant welcoming us all to the event and going over the objectives for the day. As a care experienced member of staff within Who Cares? Scotland, I found the day very eventful and informative. It was just a shame there was so much going on but, due to time, I could only be participate in some of the workshops available.

From the keynote speakers who were attending, most of my attention was focused Paul Gilroy (Crossreach) and Tam Baillie, the former Children and Young People’s Commissioner. Paul’s presentation was brilliant. He spoke confidently about who Crossreach were and also about what they had and were currently doing, which was such a learning experience for myself. Also, when Tam was speaking about stigma in childhood within children’s rights it was inspirational. He is such a passionate speaker and always delivers such an influential and knowledgeable experience for the listeners.

The first workshop I took part in was addressing stigma and mental health in schools, which was delivered by the Mental Health Foundation. We participated in an icebreaker which involved choosing a postcard with an image on it and sharing an experience from school related to that image. This was a chilled-out learning experience, as different adults were sharing some positive and/or negative experiences. This was a good learning process for myself, as being comfortable to share experiences is always a sticky subject. It led to discussions about challenging mental health stigma in schools and how we would approach this. Many different discussions were held and I learned loads about the Mental Health Foundation and also the current education system.

The second workshop I participated in—after a delicious free lunch provided by the event (loved the flat bread sandwiches)—was delivered by care experienced young people from Crossreach, about challenging stigma for care experienced young people within school and it was amazing. The young people identified experiences from their past and how they challenged this and what they were doing now. It’s just inspiring for people to be strong and share their journey to help encourage others to influence change. This then led to some smaller group work, which was also led by the care experienced young people. This focused on how we could tackle stigma for care experienced young people in school. Several possible answers were shared such as educating schools about young people in care to break that stigma and remove stereotypes. Another idea was that we could have young ambassadors in schools to talk about the care system during classes and help educate the younger community and staff about care experienced young people’s journeys.

I would also like to add that the artist on the day Graham was absolutely amazing. I loved how he could capture our words and transform them into inspiring images to create a picture of what we were saying and discussing within our groups. It was an absolute pleasure to see his work and hopefully in the future this technique to capture our voices will be used again.

Author: scotinsight

The Scottish Universities Insight Institute supports programmes of knowledge exchange which address and provide insight on substantial issues that face Scotland and the wider world. Our programmes break down disciplinary and organisational barriers in bringing together academics from different backgrounds, policymakers and practitioners to mobilise existing knowledge in fresh ways through sustained and collaborative focus on a shared issue. Our member universities are: Aberdeen, Dundee, Heriot Watt, St Andrews, Strathclyde, and Glasgow School of Art.

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