NO2NP ROADSHOW: INVERNESS

The Waterside Hotel on the banks of the River Ness was the latest venue for the NO2NP Roadshow on Tuesday night this week.

Simon Calvert from The Christian Institute welcomed everyone and explained that the aim of the Named Person scheme was to “police children’s happiness” but that there was no way it was the role of the state to do this. Named Persons would effectively be “looking over parents’ shoulders” to see if they were “ticking all the boxes”.

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Gordon Macdonald from CARE for Scotland then spoke about the background to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (which introduced the Named Person scheme) and the “totally inadequate scrutiny” given to the Bill in its passage through Parliament. Even some MSPS who voted for it are now realising that they had been too enthusiastic about it, thanks to the NO2NP campaign.

He said opposition to the scheme, both inside and outside the Scottish Parliament, has been increasing, something that is “unusual” once a Bill has been passed. Gordon went on to speak about the judicial review of the legislation, which is currently on its way to the Supreme Court. He said that although the courts have rejected the judicial review so far, the situation has improved. The most recent ruling has restricted the level of interference: medical records of a general nature cannot now be shared.

And the court has recognised that the Named Person scheme must be interpreted in light of human rights and data protection legislation. Gordon stated that not only was there an inappropriate level of interference in family life under the scheme, it was also unmanageable.

Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who gave a critique of the radio interview Government minister Aileen Campbell had given following the court’s ruling last month, during which she had repeatedly said that the scheme does not infringe upon parents’ rights and responsibilities for raising children in any way.

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However, Lesley pointed out that, while existing law allows the state to override parents where there are child WELFARE concerns, the Named Person is now legally responsible for a child’s WELLBEING.

Although the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) team acknowledges that there is a difference between welfare and wellbeing, the Scottish Government and even the judiciary are constantly conflating and confusing the two. Welfare has a clear legal understanding (it is threatened when a child is at risk of significant harm) but wellbeing by contrast is not commonly understood in any context.

Indeed, on the Scottish Government website, wellbeing is described as “a complex, multi-faceted construct that has continued to elude researchers’ attempts to define and measure it”.

Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute then provided some practical points for people to get engaged with the campaign, including helping out with the NO2NP Action Day in Inverness City Centre.

If you live in the Inverness area and would like to help raise the profile of the NO2NP campaign this Saturday, get in touch with us at admin@no2np.org – it would be great to see you there!

NO2NP ROADSHOW: GALASHIELS HIGHLIGHTS

The latest NO2NP Roadshow event was held on a beautiful, sunny evening in Galashiels last night.

Gordon Macdonald, who is CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer, spoke first. He said that the family is the fundamental unit in society and, as such, deserves respect. This respect for the family is “integral” to key human rights documents, but we have seen a reinterpretation of them in recent years which marginalises parents. The Named Person legislation is a really significant shift away from child welfare to a wellbeing model that is very vague and broad. We are seeing a fundamental shift in the ideology of how the state relates to all children, he explained.

Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who as usual highlighted what the local authority for the area was doing about the scheme. Borders Council has devised a “Cootie Catcher” so that children can learn how to assess their wellbeing. The Council has also created a snakes and ladders type game called “On the trail of the Wellbeing Snail”, where cards are selected when a player lands on a square that determines whether they make progress or go backwards.

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Wellbeing snail

The notorious SHANARRI wellbeing indicators of safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included are key to this game and are intended to show children when a “wellbeing outcome” has been achieved. Examples included whether a parent had washed their child’s gym kit the night before and whether a parent had listened to their child if they were upset.

Lesley went on to explain the Wellbeing Wheel, the My World triangle, the Resilience Matrix and Genogram, all part of the Scottish Government’s “toolkit” for assessing, analysing and addressing every child’s perceived “wellbeing” needs.

After Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute brought everyone up to date about the judicial review appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session last week, there was the usual lively Q&A, when those who had come raised a wide range of concerns about the scheme.

The NO2NP Roadshow will be calling at the Gracefield Arts Centre, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries next Wednesday, 17th June at 7.30pm – we look forward to seeing some of you there!

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NAMED PERSON APPEAL HEARING: Campaigners back in court today

Campaigners opposing the Named Person scheme are back in court today for an appeal hearing after their legal challenge was rejected last year.

Lord Pentland rejected arguments that MSPs had exceeded their powers, breaching human rights rules and data protection laws, in a Judicial Review aimed at having the legislation overturned.

Now three judges will consider the proposals again.

The legal action is being brought by The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust and the Family Education Trust, with the support of academics and individual parents, all of which support the NO2NP campaign.

Community Law Advice Network (Clan Childlaw), a charity that provides legal help for children, also raised concerns about the scheme and announced it will intervene in the case.

Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute, said: “We’re asking the court to make a ruling that the imposition of a Named Person on every child in Scotland is unconstitutional and a breach of the right to a private family life.

He said they wanted the “court to look behind the Government’s rhetoric and see how this is not about protecting vulnerable children. It is about making the state a co-parent, with power to second-guess and over-ride parenting decisions about what makes a child happy. It’s Government-approved-parenting writ large”.

He added: “The trigger for intervention by the Named Person is not where there is a ‘risk of harm’. The threshold at which the Named Person can intervene in the lives of Scottish families is merely the ‘promotion of well-being’.

“The Named Person is, in effect, legally empowered to police the happiness of Scottish children. He can access and share their confidential medical data, their school records, he can question children and give them advice and supply services to them without their parents’ consent – all on the basis of what he thinks is most likely to make them happy. That is an outrage. Thousands of people across Scotland know it is an outrage, and that’s why they’ll all be hoping our judicial review succeeds.”

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