Subject: Staf October e-News

Your monthly news from Staf, Scotland's national membership organisation for all of those involved in the lives of young people in and leaving care.
Today marks the end of Care Leavers Week. There’s been a lot to celebrate, with Youth Justice Voices receiving a commendation at the Howard League Community Awards just last week.

Relationships have – as ever – been a big theme. We held our second Relationships Webinar, co-produced with Project Return and looking at the role of pets in care. You can also read more about the findings of the research carried out by our Building Relationships project last year in a new blog.

We had the musical debut of ‘Our Choir’ – care-experienced people and those who support them singing ‘Sunshine on Leith’ in a moving video. And we brought our young people together this week to learn DJing and song writing skills at an online workshop.

I’m also really pleased that, for the first time, we held a ‘Brew and a Blether’ event for those supporting care leavers in education. We talked about putting young people at the centre, online learning and Corporate Parenting – more on the outcome and next steps of this work next month.

Next week we’ll be celebrating Trustees Week and I wanted to say a huge thank you to our trustees, particularly to Grace Fletcher whose six-year term as a board member has come to an end. Grace has been an incredible asset to Staf and we are so proud of the work we have done together in East Ayrshire to deliver Shannon’s Box.

Finally, today is the last day to book your early-bird tickets for our National Conference. With an international line-up of speakers, looking at social connection, trauma and the mental health of young people, this is an event not to be missed. Book your place today. 

Until next time, 

Staf CEO
Staf Projects

Youth Justice Voices
This month Youth Justice Voices received a commendation at the Howard League Community Awards! The project could not have received this without the hard work of all the amazing young people involved – we’re so proud of them all.

To find out more about all of the – many – reasons why the project received a commendation, read Staf CEO Jo Derrick’s blog on all the great work of the young people. 

Meanwhile, Youth Justice Visionaries, the project’s consultation campaign with the Scottish Government to involve young people in shaping the future vision of youth justice, has concluded. Achievements include developing and delivering consultation activities with young people on what Scotland’s next Youth Justice Vision and Action plan should include, and consulting on the ACR Place of Safety and the extension of the Children’s Hearing System for 16 and 17 year olds over Zoom. Ruth Kerracher has spoken to Chris Marshall, one of the Youth Justice Visionaries, on his experience of the process.

Youth Just Us provides opportunities to meet other care and justice experienced young people, take part in a range of fun and creative activities, and influence change across Scotland. The group is open to all young people aged 16-25 with care and justice experience. If you are interested in getting involved, contact

Project Return
Thank you to everyone who attended the Staf Relationships Webinar, where we revealed the findings of the group’s survey on pets in care. Read the Pets in Care survey findings here. 

We are also really excited to launch the first song recording from ‘Our Choir’, an online choir bringing together care-experienced people and those who support them. Don’t miss their amazing rendition of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by the Proclaimers. Watch ‘Our Choir’ sing Sunshine on Leith here.

It’s been a busy month for the Catalysts, the young people who lead the project, as they delivered a series of Discovery Workshops, to better understand how we should approach trauma in the care system. Thank you to everyone who joined us and keep an eye out for the next steps!

Project Return is a Staf project, led by members of The Catalysts steering group, focused on changing how the care system understand and supports trauma. If you want to find out more, please contact

Building Relationships
Exciting News! At the National Conference (17/11) the building relationships advisory group will launch the next and final phase of their project. They have continued to meet regularly and are in the process of creating a comprehensive tool that will support organisations to prioritise relationship-based practice. This resource will be a place for information and inspiration for any person and organisation on that journey towards relationship-based practice. The final phase will focus on bringing together evidence from across the sector in one accessible place. 

Learn more about where they started by reading this month's blog on the initial research carried out by the project and the three key lessons we learned from the survey.

You can be part of this project! Simply, contact or join the conversation at the national conference by booking your place here.
Staf Policy and Practice

Consultation response: Raising the Age of Referral to the Principal Reporter
We have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on raising the age which young people can be referred to Children’s Hearings to 18. Based on discussions with our members and young people, we are believe this will be a positive change. Read our full response below.

Supporting care leavers during a pandemic
Staf contributed to the latest briefing from the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant on how care leavers have been supported during the pandemic and how we can continue to improve their lives beyond the current crisis.

Staf Events 
Staf runs a range of events including focus groups, forums, webinars and conferences for you to connect and learn with colleagues and peers.
Implications of Continuing Care Focus Group
Tuesday 3rd November, 10.00am - 11.30am (Microsoft Teams)
Meeting since 2014, the Implications of Continuing Care focus group offers a safe place to discuss issues and practice arising from Part 11 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The recent work of this group has discussed commissioning placements, fostering fees and payments and shared good practice from across Scotland.

Staf National Conference 2020: why social connection is key for care leavers in the age of COVID-19
Tuesday 17th November, 9.30am - 3.30am (Online)
With an international line-up of speakers, we will focus on why life-long social connections are more important than ever for care leavers. We’ll explore the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of care-experienced young people and those who support them and, crucially, how we can reverse that impact. 

At this event you will hear from:
  • Johann Hari, bestselling author of‘Lost Connections: Why you are depressed - and how to find hope’
  • Kit De Waal, author of critically-acclaimed novel ‘My Name is Leon’ who worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law 
  • Dr Stacy Blythe, Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, with a research interest in the health and wellbeing of children in out-of-home care and Developmental Trauma. 
  • Tony Bloemendaal, a fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy founded by world-renowned trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry.

Don't miss our group ticket discounts or reduced rates for students and carers!

Participation Practitioners' Forum
Thursday 3rd December, 11.00am - 12.30pm (Zoom)
The participation practitioners' forum is a free monthly event for participation workers supporting young people with care and justice experience to connect with, and learn from, each other: sharing successes, reflecting on challenges, and championing examples of best practice in an informal setting.

At the last forum, we were impressed by the range of creative and inspiring work taking place across Scotland with care and justice experienced young people. We also discussed the impact that the restrictions may have on young people’s ability to engage in outdoor support during winter, as well as the importance of promoting and supporting practitioners’ physical and mental well-being.

Care Leavers into Employment Focus Group
Wednesday 2nd December, 10.30am - 12.30pm (Microsoft Teams)
Our Care Leavers into Employment focus group tackles the issues faced by young people in both accessing and sustaining employment. This group brings together workers from across the public and third sector to discuss and dissect current practice issues and is free to attend for Staf members.

Supported Lodgings, Supported Carers Focus Group
Tuesday 15th December, 10.00am - 11.30am (Microsoft Teams)
The Supported Lodgings, Supported Carers focus group provides a supportive forum to share good practice, local and national developments, and discuss issues around Care Inspectorate inspections. This group is aimed at members and corporate parents who provide supported lodgings or supported carer services for care-experienced young people and is free to attend for Staf members.

Local Authority Members' Forum
Tuesday 19th January 2021, 10.30am - 12.30pm (Microsoft Teams)
This event has been created exclusively for local authority managers to give you space to discuss the issues that matter to you, given your unique statutory responsibility in delivering service for care leavers.

Staf Webinar: Relationship-based practice in education
Wednesday 27th January, 10.00am - 12pm (Zoom)
Due to popular demand, this is the second opportunity to here a recorded contribution from Dr Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work at The University of Sussex. This stream of Gillian's recorded keynote address from our March 2020 event will be followed by a discussion on how relationship-based practice can support care-experienced young people in education co-faciliated by Staf's Head of Learning and Development, Pamela Graham, and a care-experienced student.

What #WeLove this month...
💜 On Black History Month, we're reading this excellent blog from Melissa Craib and Amy-Beth Miah on the need to talk about the care experienced people of colour. Read more here.

💜 We're loving the new resources from The Promise, who will oversee the implementation of the Independent Care Review. Recruitment for the Oversight Board is now underway too, find out more here.

💜 We're excited to hear more about Staf member Midlothian Council's new project to support 30 care leavers over 3 years to move into their first tenancy, funded by the Life Changes Trust and co-produced with young people. 
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