Opinion

Scotland's promise to care experienced children shows how politics can give us hope

True change is afoot north of the border, showing that politics can improve lives

a young child is hugged from behind by a parental figure

Scotland's promise to care experienced children shows how politics can give us hope. Image: Canva

There is a certain level of hopelessness that a lot of people approach policy and politics with. There is the idea that one vote can’t make a difference or that nothing really changes but there are some policies, like the Scottish government’s Promise to care experienced children and young people, that put that belief firmly in the realm of the unrealistic pessimist. We have seen true change over the last several years. The kind that will impact and improve the lives of thousands of children and young adults across Scotland.  

When I was a kid in care there was no guarantee that my brothers and I would end up in the same place and after the age of seven, we were often split up. Now the Brother and Sisters Act has changed that. I was rarely able to attend the hearings which controlled my life and was often penalised for missing school if I did go to them. The restructuring of the hearing system changed that. We have been a minority voice, a small group pushing for change for so long that so many of us lost hope of it ever happening and yet here we are. It may be slower than we would like but we cannot deny that it is true change, true reform for the benefit of the minority.  

Politics can seem overwhelming, not because there is a lot of information but because it can be very hard to get motivated to listen those who have never experienced what we have. This often seems to leave us with those pushing us with “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, just vote” which creates a sense of awkwardness when we don’t know who to vote for or those that make us feel guilty for not registering and then act as though we deserve every hardship that may come afterwards. Instead, I’d suggest a third path. 

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

Politics is a game of compromise, it always has been. When it comes down to representing millions of people and being an individual standing amongst those millions, nothing is going to be perfect. 

Find the thing you care about most.  

For me, obviously it is quality education and fair wages for fair work. So I hunt for those that have the policies I agree with whose beliefs align with mine in a broad sense. There are some pages and websites I rely on that summarise everything because manifestos are time consuming and I have my 20-minute commute to absorb what I can before I need to focus on other things. Everyone has their own way of doing things. We all have our own beliefs and things that we are passionate about.  

Sometimes we might struggle to see any path in front of us that leads to true change but it is always there, waiting for you to take that first step.  

Have hope, register to vote.  

Susan Loughlin is one of the leadership team of the National Society of Apprentices that encourages people to register to vote.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

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