We know that children who grow up in areas of high social deprivation face challenges and that, unless well supported, they are less likely than their more advantaged peers to be successful in later life. We also know that many of these communities are working with organisations and agencies to try and tackle the many challenges these children face, but that they often don’t have sufficient resources to produce the outcomes they want to achieve.
If we want to create a new future, the evidence from Europe, America and elsewhere tells us that we are going to have to have to work in different, more creative and more joined-up ways. We need to develop new approaches that reshape roles and responsibilities and which bring together the many different agencies and organisations that are currently involved in delivering services to and helping children in these areas.
Children’s Neighbourhoods are now working with a range of players, locally, regionally and nationally, to generate a coherent response in services to ensure that all resources are pulling in the same direction. This is, of course, a slow task and so far we have invested our time in building trust and relationships to create the conditions that will promote authentic collaboration and partnership working across the neighbourhood.
The Children’s Neighbourhood in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock is an example of a ‘backbone organisation’ that brings together different resources, brokers and facilitates connections, dialogue and activity. We have undertaken a detailed analysis of context and developed, in partnership with local organisations and services, what CNS is aiming to achieve in the short, medium and long term. We have also mapped out how we might best achieve it. We are also researching and evaluating our work and progress to ensure that our learning responsive and proactive and are fed into future developments.
This is an important priority that will allow us to ensure we develop local evidence-based solutions as well as drawing on the wider evidence, principles and frameworks. With its track record in out-of-hours provision and community relationships, Dalmarnock Primary School is the heartbeat of CNS. The school and its head teacher works with the CNS Coordinator and the CNS team, based in the University’s of Glasgow’s Social Research Hub at the Olympia Building in Bridgeton, to make it all a reality.
We have already undertaken some work on play and are in the process of working with our partners, and informed by the data, to identify key priorities across the most significant phases of children’s lives and into adulthood. These will drive our future activities and our plans going forward.
Children’s Neighbourhoods is not a quick fix, rather a long-term investment in sustainable cultural change. We believe, and the emerging evidence suggests, this is a model that can make a difference to the lives of young people and their families locked in poverty and can play a significant role in achieving the Scottish Government’s 2030 child poverty targets. CNS is also flexible enough to travel and therefore has the potential for roll-out to other areas, both urban and rural.
In CNS we believe we have developed a uniquely Scottish approach to put poverty in its place!
A version of this article was originally published as an Agenda piece in The Herald on 09/02/18.