Shelagh Young, Home-Start Director for Scotland1.Start where you are and do what you can

In Scotland’s Year of Young People let’s hear it for the teenagers fighting period poverty in their schools, the children bringing playfulness to elderly people in care homes courtesy of thoughtful early years staff, the members of the Children’s Parliament reminding us that every child has rights and the many younger parents who accept support from Home-Start so they can give their own children the best possible start in life. It only takes a little effort to do a good thing. Stuck for ideas? Keep an eye on social media using #YOYP2018 or maybe also volunteer or fundraise for Home-Start. We’re already looking for people to Kiltwalk ( with us. It’s going to be a busy year.

2. Be human

Let’s hear it for inspiring schools like Burnside Primary in Carnoustie which is constantly tweeting and blogging reminders of how small everyday acts of kindness and careful ways of connecting with children bring great social, emotional and educational results. Their top tip for 2018? Put connection before correction. When a child’s behaviour causes concern they are saying: “I am here and you are safe”. Who doesn’t want to hear something like that when they feel sad, angry or wobbly? Find out more by following the Burnside team on twitter at @BurnsidePS or just take this idea and run with it.

3. Be playful

It’s going to catch on big time in 2018. Princess Charlotte’s January 2018 nursery debut starts with a “stay and play” session for her parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Early years staff who haven’t already invested in crowd control measures be warned: Meghan Markle only had to brandish a Scottish made handbag for stocks to sell out in days. If two year olds are set to become the must-have accessory of the year then make the most of it. Our Big Hopes, Big Future attainment focused programme funded by the STV Children’s Appeal majors on learning at home through play so join us in funding it, delivering it and promoting it. Play builds brains and not just the children’s.

4. Embrace digital

Addictive smartphones and children farmed out to Nanny iPad aside, digital tech has a lot to add to our quality of life. A woman called google moved into my house last year. Like most women she is incredibly reliable and a mine of useful information. Her voice activated listening ear means less screen time for me with no loss of instant access to healthy recipes based on the depleted contents of a weekday fridge. Sadly she wasn’t around when my children needed the sort of consistent parent that responded to late night homework questions with the calm confidence of an android driven by Wikipedia. Even more sadly she cannot wash, dry and sort socks. Parents are still needed.

5. Box clever

A 100% approval rating from parents for Scotland’s baby box scheme was never predicted by the naysayers. Seems as if people really do appreciate a wider range of inclusive, quality benefits free at the point of delivery. Now we’ve established that unexpected fact it’s time to think bigger. Let’s move beyond fighting to protect the NHS and the skirmishes around childcare provision to explore what other goods and services should be universally available and free at the point of delivery. If we want to make sure Scotland truly becomes the best place to grow up in we have to think bigger.

For more information about working with investing in or volunteering for Home-Start please visit our website at 

Shelagh Young is Home-Start UK’s Director of Scotland