28 March 2018
Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst has hailed a recent visit to Scotland by those involved in the Island’s care of children as a ‘turning point’ for Jersey.
He made the comments after a recent trip to Edinburgh, where a delegation of officials, charity workers and young people with care experience, from Scotland and Jersey, gathered to learn and exchange ideas about children’s services.
Looking back on the weekend’s visit, which he described as a ‘powerful experience’, he said: ‘As we have already said, young people’s voices must be at the heart of what we do to improve services for children in Jersey. But while it is important for the Island to acknowledge its mistakes from the past, it is crucial that we must also not be afraid to learn from others who have gone through similar experiences. That vital important turning point was reached at the weekend and it has given us hope for the future.’
When addressing the delegation in the Scottish capital on Friday he said: “We are here because of some of the greatest difficulties our Island has ever faced. The young people I have met have given me hope for the future. We often hear negative reports in the media about young people but the young people who I have met since the Care Inquiry are the opposite of that and what I hear from them gives me hope for our future.”
Senator Gorst added: “For us, we are starting a journey from pain and we are hopeful about where we can get to and for me that hope has grown hearing about the journey that Scotland has been on. Understanding that listening and then changing what we do, because we have listened to each other, has reignited and grown that hope.”
Accompanying the Chief Minister on the visit was Deputy Sam Mezec, chairman of the Care of Children in Jersey Review Panel.
Referring to their different political opinions, Senator Gorst said at the event: “We may not always politically align but that is irrelevant compared to the greater mission that we have and greater challenge we face and I get a sense that, after today, that is the destination that we are both aiming for because we are on this journey together.”
Reflecting on the official visit to Scotland, Deputy Mezec said: “We’ve learnt so much and are determined to improve our services in Jersey so that every young person can thrive and feel loved.”
Children’s Commissioner for Jersey, Deborah McMillan, who was also on the visit, said: “We have all been very inspired from what we heard in Scotland and at times the stories almost brought us to tears. It made us really think about our role as corporate parents.
“We have done a lot of talking - now there is a need to take action and show this change on the ground.”
Three young people from Jersey with experience of the care system in the Island joined the delegation and afterwards spoke about what they had learnt.
Jake Le Caudey, who has just started a new job as a Youth Support Worker for Barnardos Jersey, said: “I met many individuals who are care experienced in Scotland and who are all working towards the same goal, which is to help other people who are in care.
“I know that if those in care are given positive encouragement they will thrive. I want to help make it better for other people in care.”
Ryan Williams is currently a Family Support Worker for Children’s Services and has 22 years of care experience. He said: “One thing that struck me from this visit is how Scotland is engaging with so many people through social media and maybe that is something we can learn from.”
Jay, a young student from Jersey with care experience, added: “The support young people in care receive in Scotland is amazing and hearing that there is going to be change in Jersey is even more amazing. I think Jersey has taken a big step today and, with Scotland, will be taking a journey together and that journey starts today and I couldn’t be more excited for it. I want to help share that passion to others so they feel proud to live in care.”
Scotland’s Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd said: It has been a day of strong voices and powerful stories. It was a privilege to listen and learn. I will take away three words – hope, pride and love.”
Further representatives at the learning/exchange visit in Edinburgh were:
John Hodge, Director of Jersey Shelter Trust
Nick Cook and Tina Gaudion of Barnardos Jersey
John Scally, Executive Director of Caritas
Steve Harvey, Chief Executive Officer Brig-y-Don Children’s Charity
Reverend Tony Morling, Methodist Church Jersey
Susan Devlin, Managing Director of Children’s Services, States of Jersey
Andrew Heaven, Director of Children’s Policy, States of Jersey
Maree Todd, Scotland’s Minister for Childcare and Early Years.
Carly Glover, National Policy Manager for the early intervention charity Peeple.
Who Cares? Scotland Who Cares? Scotland is a national voluntary organisation, working with care experienced young people and care leavers across Scotland.
On Thursday 29 March, the Chief Minister will attend the Care of Children Review Panel, public hearing, between 10am and 11.30am in the Blampied Room in the States Building.