“There’s this quote that kept me going through the hardest days of being in here, ‘Don‘t give up. Although things are stormy now, even in Scotland it can’t rain forever.’ I added even in Scotland, that’s my bit, but all the other bits was online, and that quote gave me hope.”

Young person in the Good Shepherd Centre

Talking Hope promotes more hopeful conversations with and about young people supported by services. It explores the important factors in achieving hope identified by young people, their families and the staff who support them. This toolkit is aimed at staff, but the focus on hope and wellbeing is for everyone.

Talking Hope has run alongside the emergence of the Promise in Scotland, which came out of the independent care review. Talking Hope also started in secure care in Scotland and has continued to work closely with 3 secure care centres as well as community based partners (see below). Talking Hope has also run alongside the development of the secure care pathways and standards.

All of this connects to children’s rights and you can read more about rights in our participation page.

Learning about hope

“The advice I would give other young people would be—just try. It doesn’t mean because you’ve tried and you’ve messed up that you’re not going to get to where you need to be in life. Because there’s so many times that I’ve gone so far forward and then I’ve been like ‘Oh, do you know what? I’ve made a mistake there.’ You get knocked back a couple of steps, but get back up on your feet and go again and just keep trying and trying and trying. It’s all you can ask for and all you can do.”

Young person in Stepdown at St Mary’s (18)

Together we learned a lot about hope through conversations involving young people, families, staff. We learned to think about hope and hopelessness not so much as opposites, but more as two things that we all experience, and which sit alongside each other. As the young person above suggests, we all make mistakes and can’t get it right every time. We all just need to try to do the best we can with what we have and know. It is also important when hopelessness kicks in, to remember more hopeful times:

We need to learn to sit with hopelessness. It’s natural as a human, and you know throughout life you get days where you are hopeless, you might have difficult visits or you go through life and you need to remember that ups and downs are always going to be part of this work”

Steering group member

The most clearly established theory of hope is by Snyder. In his article ‘Hope theory: rainbows in the mind’ (2002). Snyder’s theory tells us that hope involves settings goals, identifying pathways to achieving them and building the motivation to work towards them. We found that goals are important. They require moving beyond a criticism of existing practices to envisaging a better future, and we will revisit goal setting throughout this website.

Hope is empowering our families to focus on strengths and positives in their lives and using these strengths to reach their goals and become their own person”

Family support worker, East Ayrshire

Kitty Te Riele (2010) suggests in her article on the philosophy of hope in working with marginalised young people that more attention should be paid to the ways in which social context – the situations that people find themselves in – can affect hope. We agree and we talk about this more in the section on transitions, change and hope.

We also like Maria Popova’s (2016) words on hope. She says we need critical thinking alongside hope.

Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety.”

She says that we need to think critically about what is lacking with ourselves and the world, and to work out how to make things better. This fits with the goal setting that can generate hope.

A hope reservoir

During phase three, partners began to talk about a hope reservoir. The idea was that as we all move between hope and hopelessness in our lives, we need something to help hold onto hope, including hopeful moments captured in words and images; somewhere we can dip into to remember more hopeful times. This website has been built as a kind of hope reservoir. We would encourage you to think about building a hope reservoir in your work with young people and your colleagues. Even just for yourself!


Participation and hope

about finding ways to ensure that everybody has a voice, and that voices are listened to

Transitions, change, hope

about maintaining hope during times of change and moves between services or settings

Hopeful leadership

about practices and ways of working that promote hope within and between organisations

The Talking Hope project started in 2018, funded for six months by the EU Social Innovation Fund and the Scottish Government. The second six-month phase, in 2019, was funded by the Scottish Government and The Good Shepherd Centre. After a two year gap, phase 3 ran from October 2021 till July 2022, with additional partners and funded by the Scottish Government and includem. Talking Hope is guided by a multi-agency steering group with representatives from each partner agency. We are still meeting and working out next steps.