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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.

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Wed Nov 24| News Policy & Research

Voices: New Peer Research from includem

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Voices Report, focused on families’ experiences of poverty & services. Children, young people and families must have a say in what is needed, how it’s developed and how it can be delivered to achieve #ABetterLife.

We want to extend our thanks to all those that made this possible – including the participating children, young people and families from different towns and cities across Scotland for bravely sharing their honest views and experiences; peer researchers Kevin Lafferty, Jane McGroarty and Lucy Lou who brought their invaluable perspectives to shape and conduct field research; and Dr Briege Nugent and Dr Emma Miller for their research expertise and commitment to understanding the families we work with.

Includem’s ongoing research provides an important platform for their voices to be heard, and the Voices Report highlights their daily struggles of living in poverty, the complex challenges faced by families and the barriers to accessing services and support.

In particular, families supported by includem placed clear value in relationships based on listening, trust, commitment and fun. These can be negatively impacted by current approaches to recording in wider services, highlighting the importance of ensuring that voices are effectively captured and communicated.

Published alongside Co-Production Week, this work highlights how research and positive change can be made with people, instead of to them. In this study, peer researchers with experience of includem services were able use their own understanding and lived experience to establish a space of trust and openness around topics where stigma and feelings of shame are often prevalent in society.

In describing how sharing his own experiences helped families discuss the challenges they faced, Kevin (peer researcher) reflected that:

“This created a sense of unity and let conversations move in the direction of being an honest and true reflection of the reality of what its like to be living in poverty today. Living in poverty is trauma, every day…”

In noting how powerful and cathartic open conversations could be, Jane (peer researcher) noted that:

I’m just a woman, a mother trying to get through and give my kids all I can day by day. I feel this let barriers down, allowed people to speak more freely without any fear of judgment. The worries as a parent (as anyone) surrounding poverty are immense. Being able to level with others and allow them to feel comfortable to speak openly about these issues and worries meant to a huge deal to me…”

It is clear that the status quo needs to change for families to #KeepThePormise.  The four interdependent recommendations based on the views of families in this report highlight the action needed to keep families together and thriving. These include:

  1. Children, young people and family support services must take into account and mitigate the wider economic and social factors impacting wellbeing.
  1. Services should be built on relationship-based practice & working with the whole family – where and when they need it.
  1. Addressing gaps in service provisions and greater partnership working are necessary to support families to overcome complex challenges.
  1. Investment in & support of the workforce are critical to enable them to undertake this highly valuable and skilled work.

These recommendations and wider findings can be explored in more detail in the full report, available here.

Includem is committed to hearing from and working with children, young people and families to improve our practice to ensure that we do everything we can to provide them with the best support possible.

In the spirit of #CoProWeekScot2021, we challenge decision makers across government and services to hear their voices and take action to achieve positive change for those most impacted.


Read our new report here.

Read the academic report here

Read the family friendly report here

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