News & Stories

We believe that all children and young people should have a voice. Behind every child or young person we work with there is a story, which they are best placed to tell. They might not have decided the beginning, or the middle, but they can re-write the ending.

All| Blog| News| Policy & Public Affairs| Projects| Services| Transforming Lives| Young People’s Stories

Mon Jun 24| News Policy & Public Affairs Transforming Lives

Challenging Poverty at includem

In 2011, in recognition of the increase in poverty the children, young people and families we work with face, we set up our Young Persons Fund.

A Fund that colleagues access on a daily basis to provide essential additional support. When I first joined includem I was astonished and delighted to hear about the fund. Most of the families we work with are living in poverty. Increasingly, they are making decisions about whether to eat, try to meet their increasing debt, or buy clothes for their child who is growing fast. It feels uncomfortable writing this – nothing I say can convey the worry, the fear and the hopelessness that many of our families live with.

We have been actively showcasing our work across social media recently and the evidence is everywhere – poverty affects education, attainment, social opportunities, health – including mental health. Literally every fabric of a person’s being.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 includes four targets for child poverty in Scotland in 2030 and interim targets for 2023. The targets require that of all children living in Scotland:

  • less than 18% are in relative poverty by 2023-24 and less than 10% by 2030-31
  • less than 14% are in absolute poverty by 2023-24 and less than 5% by 2030-31

While policy initiatives by the Scottish Government have made some progress towards meeting these targets, recent campaigns and reports by organisations like CPAG show that the Government will not meet its targets.

While we campaign on the issue of child poverty and amplify the voices of those we work with, our Young Person’s Fund helps us provide small respite for children, young people and families. Before I talk about some of the examples of how the money is spent, I want to acknowledge two things:

  • We always want to do more
  • Families are living in poverty because of structural inequality, not because of choices they have made

Hobbies and activities inspire aspiration. They give young people a sense of achievement, the opportunity to meet with and relate to other children and young people and are often delivered in a child-friendly way intended to improve emotional and social development. Many of the children and young people we work with do not have access to hobbies or activities. Their schools don’t have sufficient provision or accessible activities. They don’t commit to clubs because they are unable to meet the costs of uniforms or equipment. They are too worried to attend clubs and meet new people. They are at home trying to care for their siblings because their parent has poor mental health.

When we work with a family, my colleagues are amazing at identifying supports for the entire family and our Young Person Fund enables colleagues to do so much for children, young people and families.

Our support is available 24/7 and our Young Persons Fund gives us vital funds to support young people in crisis. One of my colleagues spoke about trying to support a young person with their basic needs like housing and benefits and she recalls how complex and difficult the system is to navigate. After supporting a young person to apply for emergency funds, which wouldn’t be in their account for another 28 days, my colleague was able to use some money from the Young Persons Fund to buy essential clothes for this young person. Just to be clear: this young person had no one else to turn to, nowhere to go. When statutory avenues are exhausted, and they are exhausted quickly, organisations like includem are a lifeline for people.

But the fund does more than that. Young People have gained access to technology required to take part in college courses, or further learning. Some children, young people and families we work with are digitally excluded, something most people still find difficult to believe. And yet there are many reasons why someone might not have access to a mobile phone, a tablet or the internet. The Young Persons Fund has allowed us to address digital exclusion on multiple occasions. Through the fund, young people have access to devices to allow them to study at college or at school, and internet access which is required for so much of our daily lives.

Young people have accessed activities that they dream of trying but family finances don’t allow for. Families have been able to spend time together in a fun environment, without the pressures and stresses of everyday weighing on them.

I spoke to one of the young people we support who has a difficult relationship with her mother. She told me that her favourite activity to date had been spending a day out with her mom, who includem had supported her. While the young person and their mother had made the decision about what they wanted to do, her workers had planned and organised the day. The young person and her mom spent the day on an inflatable assault course, and afterwards, they had a meal together. This day out with her mom, something the young person does not experience often, is crucial for her sense of belonging, her relationship with her mother through shared positive experiences, and the simple fact that it made her happy.

I had the great opportunity to attend the CYCJ National Youth Justice Conference over the last two days. When I was writing this I returned to my notes from the conference and something Graeme Armstrong said spoke to me. Children and Young People need enjoyment. They need to have fun. Safe, positive, fun. So much of life is not fun, and not enjoyable for our children and young people. Fun should not be a luxury. It is a fundamental part of being a healthy, active, fulfilled member of society.

I am grateful our fund exists and always wish that we could do more. I hope that in reading this you have gained a small insight into the significance of the fund and the opportunities it can provide.

If you can, please consider donating to our Young Person’s Fund here.

Lisa Weylandt,
Policy & Public Affairs Officer

Change a life today.
Our young people and families need your help today, more than ever.

Related Posts