A joint Who Cares? Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar exhibition “Journeys in the north – the local story” was visited on Friday [15th February] afternoon by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and care-experienced young leader Louise. 

Large numbers of care experienced young people and their friends and fellow young leaders came together with service providers, carers and professionals for the interactive event.

This one-day event at St Columba's was one of a number of ambitious events taking place across Scotland to mark Care Day 2019. Care Day is a celebration of Care Experienced people across the world. Care Experienced is a term used to refer to anyone who has experience of care in their lives. This includes foster care, children’s homes, secure care, kinship care or living at home with social work involvement.

Care-experienced young people and their friends and fellow young leaders in the islands have worked with artists, musicians and story-tellers over several months to create and curate a powerful range of art work for the exhibition, from film and music to sculpture, stories and textiles – all on the theme of the journeys that matter in our lives.

A strong partnership between Who Cares? Scotland and the Community Learning and Development Department within the Comhairle has been at the heart of that work, creating a host of group opportunities for large numbers of young people.

Leading charity Who Cares? Scotland, an organisation that works for and on behalf of Care Experienced people, has celebrated those who have backed Care Day 2019 nationwide, and the children and young people at the heart of the events.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “Care-experienced youngsters face more obstacles in their lives than most, and we as a society need to reflect on how we can do better for them in the future. The artwork and creativity on display in today’s exhibition told some very powerful stories and it was a great honour to officially open it alongside Louise.

“Every young person should have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. However, for far too many young people in care, and through absolutely no fault of their own, that has not been the case.”

Alison Frizzell, who works for Who Cares? Scotland locally, providing support to children and young people including those with experience of care, said: “People across the islands have been working to recognise and support Care Experienced people. We do this through listening to them, amplifying their voice and making sure they are a valued part of the community. We want Care Experienced people to feel free to be themselves.

“Today’s exhibition in Stornoway was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate care-experienced people and their friends and fellow leaders, by bringing together young leaders, young friends, amazing creators, and all the range of partners who can help support them in shaping their wonderful lives going forward.”

Duncan Dunlop, CEO of Who Cares? Scotland said: “There are communities across Scotland celebrating Care Day and their Care Experienced people.

“Where people stand up to recognise Care Experienced people and the need for a lifetime of equality, respect and love, we will commend them. This has been done in the Western Isles and we know that our members across the islands will feel more accepted as a result of this.”

The first Care Day took place in 2015 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Scottish Parliament cross party support for the passing of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill 2014.

This was a very significant moment as the evidence of 21 Care Experienced campaigners helped change the Bill’s course and secure more rights for Care Experienced people in Scotland.

Care Day takes place on the third Friday in February each year and has continued to go from strength to strength.  It is now recognised across the UK and internationally as an opportunity to celebrate the lives and voices of Care Experienced people.