A national campaign to give a stronger voice to young people in care and leaving care by tackling the discrimination head on has been supported by Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) community.
Steven Mills, the Student President for Education and Welfare, has been spreading the word across the university campus, encouraging the RGU community to take the pledge to listen to children in care.
Developed by WhoCare’s? Scotland, ‘It’s Time to Listen’ is asking communities across the country to listen to a child in care’s side of the story, and to back the campaign to help stand up to ignorance about why children end up in care.
The campaign has been widely endorsed across the university with hundreds of staff members and students signing the pledge to show their support, making RGU the first university in Scotland to take the campaign onto campus.
“Children in and from care need to be better understood across the country and made to feel like they deserve to be part of the community,” says Steven, who has also been working alongside the Study Skills and Access Unit to raise awareness of student care leavers.
“This cause is very close to my heart as my mother is a child minder so I have been brought up around children in care and know how important it is that they are listened to, as chances are, their stories are quite different to what we think we know about them.
“I am delighted that so many people from the RGU community have signed their pledge to show their commitment to stamping out the stigma which children and young people in care face.”
There are more than 16000 children in care in Scotland and 450 in Aberdeenshire alone, with 65 care leavers. Research shows that almost half of children in care are afraid of prejudice, bullying or being treated differently if people find out about their care background.
RGU is dedicated to providing an accessible student environment for all students, including those who have a history of being looked after at home, in residential care, foster care or kinship care.
Duncan Dunlop, CEO of WhoCare’s? Scotland, said: 'It is fantastic that RGU is the first university in Scotland to take the 'listen' campaign onto campus.
“Only four percent of Scotland's care leavers go to university which means that the majority don’t. It's not because these young people don't have what it takes to study, it's because there isn't enough understanding of their day to day lives and the effect which coming from care has on how they feel – this needs to be tackled immediately.
“Increased understanding of these young peoples’ needs will go a long way in helping reduce the stigma which they feel. This partnership with RGU is a huge step in the right direction and we hope it can continue into a longer term relationship, and indeed inspires other educational establishments to get involved too.”
The campaign aims to help dispel the myths about children in care by simply getting people to pledge to listen to their side of the story. It is urging people to help by showing children and young people in care and who have left care that they deserve to be part of the community.