Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 29 October 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Michael Chalmers

Meeting participants


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Jennifer King, apologies from Douglas Hutchison 
  • Care Inspectorate - Helen Happer, apologies from Peter Macleod
  • CELCIS, University of Strathclyde - Claire Burns
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) - Elliot Jackson
  • Children in Scotland - apologies from Jackie Brock, Amy Woodhouse – on behalf of Jackie
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small 
  • Coalition of Care and support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Annie Gunner Logan 
  • COSLA - Eddie Follan, Jillian Ingram 
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group (DCYPAG) - Jim Carle 
  • Education Scotland - Laura-Ann Currie 
  • The Promise - Fi McFarlane, Thomas Carlton, apologies from Fiona Duncan
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde - Jennifer Davidson
  • NHS Chief Executives - Angela Wallace
  • Police Scotland - apologies from Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • Scottish Government - Michael Chalmers, Iona Colvin, Carolyn Younie, Ann Holmes, Wendy Mitchell, Kate Smith, Maggie Fallon, apologies from Angela Davidson 
  • SOLACE - Grace Vickers
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Phillip Gillespie 
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon

Additional meeting participants:

Agenda item 3 – Cross Cutting Delivery Circle – Relational and enabling approaches to tackling poverty and inequality:

  • Lynn Hendry, West Coast Capital
  • Sylvia Douglas, MsMissMrs
  • David Duke, Street Soccer Scotland
  • Norman Gill, Street Soccer Scotland
  • Paul Tyrer, Head of Social Justice Strategy

Agenda item 4 – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework – update and discussion:

  • Carolyn Wilson, Head of Supporting Maternal and Child health, Improving Health and Wellbeing, C and F Directorate – on behalf of Lesley Sheppard, SG Deputy Director, Care, Protection and Justice, C and F Directorate

Leadership Group secretariat: Sara Dodds, Anne-Marie Conlong and Claire Scott

Dialled in for info only:

  • Clare Simpson, Chair of the Advisory Group. 
  • Bill Scott-Watson, SG Interim Deputy Director, Strategy, GIRFEC and The Promise, CF  and Directorate
  • Laura Holton, SG Head of Family Unit, C and F Directorate
  • Elspeth Hough, SG Head of Family Unit, C and F Directorate
  • Carolyn Wilson
  • Jackie McAllister, Head of Social Justice Delivery Unit 
  • Darren Tierney, Social Justice Delivery Unit 

Items and actions

Note and updates on actions from 1 and 15 October meeting

Karen Reid confirmed she had circulated the paper on CYP in conflict with the law to SOLACE (as agreed at the last meeting)

Michael advised members that we have a number of updates on actions. As there is a full agenda, members should get in touch with the Secretariat if they want to comment or raise anything.


Cross cutting delivery circle – relational and enabling approaches to tackling poverty and inequality

Paul Tyrer introduced the work of the Social Renewal Advisory Board. He stated that the aim of the Board is to learn the lessons of the response to the pandemic and think about how we can build back or build forward better, for the post-Covid Scotland we want to see. There are 9 policy circles to do in-depth thinking on the issues. One of the circles is the cross-cutting delivery circle. The final report from the Board will be independent of the Scottish Government (SG) and will be report to SG and civic society groups. This is expected to be published at the end of the year, the SG and COSLA will publish a response in the new year, possibly around the end of January. 

Cross-cutting Delivery Circle

Lynn Hendry, Sylvia Douglas, Normal Gill and David Duke each introduced themselves and their backgrounds and gave a presentation. 

Lynn described how the Hunter Foundation had a long history of working with SG on the change agenda. She outlined the Social Innovation Partnership (SIP), which aims to marry policy and practice to achieve collective outcomes. It requires genuine collaboration, partnership and shared values. The SIP is composed of 14 organisations all with charitable status. It works to understand how relational approaches to service delivery can make a difference to what’s gone before. It is interested in what it takes to achieve change for the people it wants to serve. The SIP uses the language ‘go wide, go deep’ and is driven by the voice of lived experience or deeply learned experience. 

Lynn outlined how partnership with SG is important for the feedback loop on policy development as it helps understand the ‘customer’ perspective and why policy might not work on the ground. She shared that an evidence base is important to make change and that they have been working with Suzanne Fitzpatrick (ISphere) as a learning partner. Lynn stated that that this is an exciting time to be working on this, given the strength of policy development and the Covid-19 context giving impetus to this work.  

David explained how he set up Street Soccer in 2009 to provide a connection for people. David shared his own experiences of poverty and homelessness, how he felt isolated and how he wasn’t able to move until he felt connected. David gave a number of examples of how relationship-based working made a big difference. And spoke about partnership working and the importance of trust between organisations, for example, Street Soccer’s work with drug rehabilitation services.

Norman shared how Street Soccer had been working to find new ways to connect with players during lockdown and the restricted circumstances. In some cases he found that they have been able to increase the amount of contact they had with the people they serve and found that some who had disengaged previously with education, had become more involved digitally. Norman detailed how some had suffered from experiencing lots of interventions, finding that the ‘one door’ approach can make a big difference.  He has seen how communities are a powerful force during the pandemic and that a lot of red tape was pushed aside in the crisis and funds were released to support struggling families.  He highlighted that Street Soccer was quickly able to get match funding and in-kind donations to make a difference to families. The organisation wants to build forward better with a strong focus on relationships and focusing on three key areas: 

  • social inclusion (including digital access)
  • social mobility (equality of access to education and educational outcomes)
  • social contribution (about individuals and organisations, and the need for a more flexible workforce) 

He acknowledged that there will be challenges, which they have been discussing with range of organisations, including Social Work Scotland (SWS). They aim to have a focus on ‘building back better’, drawing on their organisational experience and the voice of lived experience to offer transformational initiatives going forward. 

Sylvia gave the background to MsMissMrs, a grassroots, place-based organisation with women at the heart with focus on physical, social and emotional wellbeing to help women achieve and help them overcome barriers. Just prior to the school closure, Sylvia’s organisation had worked with schools and ensured during lockdown that they supported the most vulnerable families. Sylvia gave an example of support that had been offered to two specific families experiencing a range of challenges and the difference made by providing relationship-based support, working in partnership with school, providing financial and practical support. 

Lynn clarified that the SIP is the collection of the 14 organisations, whereas the cross-cutting delivery circle is those members plus representation from public sector organisations across education and health. The key is how to take a coherent policy narrative and make it coherent on the ground. A greater appreciation of the role of communities is needed, drawing on the expertise of organisations to deliver outcomes. Lynn drew the LG’s attention to the ‘community around child’ presented in the paper.

Michael asked Lynn what would she would most want input from the LG on and she advised the following:

  • want the LG view on the proposals and the framing narrative
  • are we headed in the right direction?
  • is this aligning with what LG members are seeing themselves?
  • how do we empower front line staff? 
  • how do we collectively develop a values- based approach to change? 
  • are we missing anything? 

Questions and discussion:

The following key points were made in the discussion:

  • there is strength in the policy landscape but we have vulnerabilities in consistency of delivery in Scotland. Our organisations are rules bound- are there things we can do about how authority is delegated? How can we learn lessons from inconsistent and patchy delivery of policy? 
  • a lot of this is in common with the work of The Promise. How we do we ensure coherence? 
  • a lot of work has been at community/organisational level but the challenge is how we measure the difference it is making to vulnerable children and families. There are currently a number of measures which aren’t fit for purpose and we’re not necessarily measuring what we value
  • our work with CELCIS and SG Improvement Collaborative supports us with implementation. Learning from GIRFEC implementation in Dundee showed that there had been too much bureaucracy and that the focus needs to be on working with families
  • the Promise Team welcomed the presentation and would welcome a discussion with learning from partners on facilitation and design of services
  • Laura Ann Currie suggested that learning and development colleagues would be helpful in looking at concepts of empowerment, etc. Jackie McAllister acknowledged in ‘chat’ that she had been in touch with those colleagues following Laura Ann’s introduction
  • Iona stated she agreed with the direction of travel and noted that the key is how we make the change. She stressed the importance of the issue of resources, the management of money and accountability. The fit with The Promise is important and she is interested in how the two mesh together
  • in addition to her comments made in chat, Annie reflected on the organisations that are members of Children in Scotland/the Strategic Forum, as SCVO is not children’s-services specific. Annie advised that she would be happy to put Lynn and colleagues in contact with these colleagues. Amy echoed this offer in the chat
  • Lynn confirmed she would follow up with the offers of help and support made in discussion and in the chat and would welcome further joint working. To help with this, Michael advised that the secretariat would share the notes from discussion and chat with Lynn and colleagues via Jackie McAllister

Comments from chat:

SWS have been working on using an implementation frame to think about the barriers to self- directed support (SDS) - may be a good focus for a future meeting as it would have relevance across a number of policy areas’

Recognition of the barriers identified on page 3 of the paper. Also strongly support what has been said about procurement. Lots of learning from the adult services sector in respect of SDS - it's never really been implemented successfully and a lot of that is precisely because of the challenges of shifting power. There are many, many third sector orgs, beyond the SIP membership, that are working (or trying to work) in the ways described- how is the Circle engaging with those organisations and drawing them in to assist in this push for change?’

Eddie Follan stated that COSLA would be happy to have a more detailed discussion and noted that it’s important to look at what we are doing well in relation to leadership and to strengthening partnership. We need to make sure there is a synergy with work already under way. 

Sara Dodds would be keen to have a discussion as there are lots of connections on the importance of relationship-based working with work SG is taking forward on adverse childhood experiences and the National Trauma Training Programme.

Amy Woodhouse offered to make the links with Children in Scotland and the  Strategic Forum

What does your experience tell you are barriers to families and young people getting the help they need? Bureaucracy is often a factor as well as resources. Many of the rules and systems that might be experienced as barriers were first put in place with the aim of ensuring greater safety and minimising risk. Maybe it's time to rethink what we could do differently without being reckless.


  • LG Members and SG colleagues who volunteered follow up discussions in the chat during the meeting are: Alison Gordon, Eddie Follan, Thomas Carlton, Amy Woodhouse, Annie Gunner-Logan, Helen Happer, Sara Dodds
  • LG Secretariat to forward on note of the meeting to Jackie McAllister for sharing with Lynn, Sylvia, David and Norman

Coronavirus (COVID- 19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework – update and discussion

Michael talked through the new Strategic Framework and the different tiers, and stated that SG are working towards the publication of a table to set out implications of the different tiers for children and young people. A draft of this was circulated on Monday 26 October. The next stages include the laying of related regulations and the adjustment and development of guidance. An ‘easy read’ version for CYP will also be produced as the Children’s Commissioner had highlighted the need for this. Michael stressed that there is continued commitment to engaging with LG on this. 

Carolyn Wilson noted that the summary table for CYP won’t cover everything and urged LG members to ask if there is anything they are unsure about. A lot of detail of how different aspects will operate will be laid out in guidance.

Questions and discussion:

It was asked if outdoor play spaces will be included and whether they will be prioritised for staying open. Carolyn advised that this had been explicitly covered and that there is a request that spaces stay open at all levels. She advised that guidance on this is being finalised. 

There was the question of when the guidance will be available and if it would cover study as well as work. The guidance is expected early in the week beginning 2 November. Kate Smith advised that informal childcare advice is on Parent Club webpages and is being updated at the moment. Kate confirmed that informal childcare can cover work/ study/ training where required. She advised that more detail will be posted on the Parent Club website with specifics for tiers (full question and answer is provided in the chat comments below)

Annie raised issues around day services and respite services for disabled children and young people which haven’t been able to open and the impact that this is having on families. Iona advised that it is her understanding that it should be a local decision and that services should be able to open. Annie will link Iona up to the relevant conversations. Iona advised she will follow up with Sara Hampson in DCAF who has been working on guidance related to children’s services. 

Debby Wason advised that in the next few weeks, Public Health Scotland will be reporting on risks of transmission between children of primary school age and below and that this should help inform policy decisions and guidance going forward, for example not having to send whole classes home, which would hopefully have a positive impact on CYP’s wellbeing.

Iona advised that SG is also reviewing existing guidance to check it complies with the guidance on face coverings and aligns with the levels, e.g. guidance on home visiting, checking interim child protection guidance, children’s residential care guidance, etc. SG has also been working with Social Work Scotland on sections 16 and 17 of the Emergency Powers Act. Iona thanked those who had contributed to the review and advised that it would be circulated for comment and would hope to conclude as soon as possible. 

Michael advised that he is happy to follow up on any additional queries and asked members to let the secretariat know if there are any other questions or issues emerging. He reiterated his thanks for help from members and colleagues with providing views in the short time frame and thanked Iona and Carolyn for their work. 

Comments from chat:

The CYP summary will be really helpful. Will outdoor play spaces be included? Would welcome this.

When will the guidance be available? Informal childcare covers childcare for work but doesn't currently mention study - some students are parents and need informal childcare to allow study.

There are also huge and ongoing issues relating to day services & respite for disabled children. Many are only just getting to the point of sign-off for re-opening, they may now be very fearful that it will all be shut down again. Meanwhile many families are still supporting their disabled children 24/7 and have been since March.

Kate Smith clarified that informal childcare can cover work/ study/ training where required - more detail will be posted on Parent Club website with specifics for tiers.

It is the length of time it takes to get a decision in places, where people disagree about risk tolerance, and fears about what might happen if areas move up a Tier.


  • LG members to email LG Secretariat inbox with further queries or comments
  • Iona to follow up with Sara Hampson, GIRFEC Unit regarding day and respite services


Michael asked members to advise the Secretariat of any themes or issues that they would like the Advisory Group to explore with children and young people.

He advised that the next meeting is on 12 November (14.00-16.00) and agenda items include an update on child health data.    


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