Excerpt from Jack McConnell’s speech to Barnardos Annual Conference

Voluntary sector

100 years ago, homeless and orphaned children relied on charity.

Charities were the mainstay of supporting children in need.

But that role then passed to the statutory sector as part of the welfare state developed.

Now this is changing again.

We are moving away from a reliance on state delivery towards a much more flexible model of provision.

And, within that model, the voluntary sector has got a big role to play.

It’s the job of local authorities to co-ordinate services locally – to set the strategic overview. But, to actually deliver those services, they need a strong and dynamic voluntary sector that is able provide those services in innovative and creative ways.

I want to see the balance continue to shift. I want the voluntary sector to take more responsibility for the delivery of services for vulnerable children with the local authority taking more responsibility for the strategic over view of these services

The Scottish voluntary sector has proved time and again that it can respond quickly to new risks and threats and that it can provide high quality, imaginative and flexible public services.

In Scotland we are lucky enough to be blessed with a large charitable sector and a strong tradition of volunteering.

The work of government has always been supplemented by our voluntary sector.

And I believe this can be a powerful coalition – much more powerful than government on its own – in taking care of, and transforming the lives of, our vulnerable young people and many others.

Charities like Barnardos help build community life, they create opportunities – and they deliver vital public services, to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The strength of charities and volunteering is not just that they work for the benefit of others or that they give up their time for free – their strength lies in the ethos and the values they enshrine.

In the case of Barnados, those values have held good for over 100 years.

Our challenge is to imbed those values in all we do and have every one delivering.

All doing your bit to deliver a seamless journey for our looked after children. From childhood – to adolescence – to confident adult.

I am not complacent about how difficult this can be, but I am determined to do all we can to make it happen.