Updated: Apr 25, 2022
As Scran Academy today publishes their three year vision document ' Oor Scranifesto', Founder John Loughton Reflects:
What Scran does has never been more needed. We founded our organisation because for too many young people and families, society stacks the odds against them in life. Almost half a decade on since I and my co-Founder Elaine founded Scran Academy, it’s even tougher for these same people to get on. Young people and families’ across Edinburgh live in the least affordable local authority in Scotland, and despite huge areas of affluence, Edinburgh has the 4th highest level of child poverty nationally - with 1 in 5 children below the poverty line. This has been exacerbated by the covid19 lockdown and worsening cost of living crisis, but for many there has always been a cost of living crisis. The fact we even force a ‘cost’ to live as a phrase is saddening, and we see every day the inhumane consequences this has on individuals. Whilst we entered the pandemic unequal, we exit it even more unequal. The Edinburgh Poverty Commission identified that in the 5 years leading up to the pandemic, there was a 28% rise in children living in poverty and this will continue to increase.
Living in poverty greatly increases the risk of exposure to traumatic experiences, educational disengagement and wider social exclusion. For young people it is a life of constant uncertainty and insecurity. Young people’s core needs are unfulfilled, talents are left hidden, potential left unrealised, their voices ignored and basic rights undermined. We see a tightening benefit system that is attacking our poorest folk with real terms cuts, unmoving poverty-related attainment gap, social housing crisis, increasing drug and alcohol misuse and youth employment still way below that of employment generally. Literacy figures have fallen to 67% and numeracy figures fallen to 74% in school age children – these are even worse in areas of multiple deprivation. Public Health Scotland figures show that at the end of 2021, over 50% of young people referred to mental health support in Edinburgh were waiting over 18-weeks, with 1 in 5 waiting well over a year. Our services are creaking, and it is those in poverty and struggling that pay the greatest price. This has major impacts on small voluntary agencies like ours, as we have no choice but to become a constant crisis response service, helping people in extremely vulnerable situations. We are proud to be there for them, but sad, no darn angry, that we have to be.
It is this stubborn structural unfairness that frontline services like Scran seek to combat. That’s why we talk about hand ups, and not simply hand outs. Young people are the best people to change their own lives, and our job is to get alongside them. Our new three year plan ‘Scranifesto’ is our first ever future vision document as we grow. This will help guide our burning passion and core values to help people change their own lives. We watch the same people in the same areas be failed by the services that are supposed to serve them generation after generation.
However I am fuelled by hope. Despite the shadows of my own memories of growing up, I’m not bitter, I want to make better. Scran set up as a social enterprise model, because we instil the idea of being a solution, working for change and living with dignity.
Our approach going forward is to Empower, Together, Forever.
Empower, because we know that giving local communities choices, resources, support and love, they are their own answers. Empowerment is taken and not given, and what I’m determined to be part of is a movement that enables people to help themselves – redressing the balance. Young people engage with us in ways they don’t any other service, and that’s no accident. We focus on what they CAN do, and the assets they possess.
Together, because it takes a village to raise a child. We work equally alongside young people and families directly in a spirit of love, trust, unity and leadership. We are youth-led and listen, and ensure that the self-directed development that happens is meaningful. But also together in the sense that Scran are working hard to establish the links with education, health, business and others to have a truly collaborative approach. This spirit came alive during lockdown, and something we will seek to escalate.
And Forever – at our heart is a mission for long-term impact. We work to enact progressive system change that radically rewrites how we tool up young people and invest in the communities that need us most. That is what will create a truly sustainable society that (literally!) caters for the future.
Love you bye,
John Loughton BEM
Founder, Scran Academy