The Public Affairs Awards 2017
Best Best Campaign in Scotland
The 2017 Public Affairs Awards are dedicated to celebrating the best work that the Public Affairs industry has to show. As Media Partner, PubAffairs is contributing to reward excellence by showcasing winning entries in a number of categories.
Campaign: Better Care for Children with Shorter Lives
Brief and objectives
CHAS is Scotland’s only hospice service for children and young people with life-shortening conditions for which there is no known cure. CHAS runs two children’s hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, as well as services in hospitals and a home care service, CHAS at Home.
Long standing Scottish Government guidance required the NHS to fund 50% of agreed service costs for adult hospices in Scotland, while children’s hospice services were expected to make do with just 25%. In reality, during 2015 CHAS actually received just 13% of its service costs, meaning the system was short-changing more than 15,000 children and young people who – according to ground-breaking independent academic research – need our help.
In the run-up to the May 2016 election we developed a public affairs engagement programme with key Holyrood health spokespeople and civil servants, with the explicit and ambitious aim of securing a pre-election political commitment to doubling the proportion of public sector funding received by the charity to 50%.
We had a short window to raise awareness of the issue and persuade MSPs that the status quo needed to change. Then we had to find a way to translate political commitment into a new financial reality that every NHS board in Scotland could get behind.
That meant we had to go further once the commitment was in place, by making sure that our key public sector partners and stakeholders fully understood how we were going to use the new resources to transform children’s palliative care services across Scotland.
Securing the funding
Our main objective was to influence the Scottish Government and Parliamentarians to take action, and to do that we had to make CHAS’s funding relevant to the 2016 election by making it an issue for all the main parties at once. Support for CHAS had to become politically unarguable.
We therefore drafted and media-launched CHAS’s first ever Scottish Parliament election manifesto, ‘Better Care for Children with Shorter Lives’ in March and sent copies to more than 400 Scottish Parliament election candidates, asking for their support.
At the same time we organised a bespoke ‘Policy Engagement Event’ on 19 April at CHAS’s Rachel House Hospice, as an opportunity for CHAS staff, volunteers and families to meet and question key MSP candidates ahead of the election and to harness their energy to push for practical support. Crucially for success, and after tricky liaison with party campaign teams, we secured the appearance of the Health Secretary and the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, as well as prominent Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green speakers.
The event still had to deliver something unique, so we worked hard to ensure that it avoided the negativity of tone prevalent at regular short campaign hustings. We carefully fostered a mood that made vulnerable children and families feel comfortable enough to engage with the politicians, while ensuring they had time to tour Rachel House and meet with families to hear directly about their experience of caring for a child with a life shortening condition.
We knew that the panel session, chaired by prominent Herald journalist Stephen Naysmith, would be a success when the opening line from one of the politicians was: “Usually we come to these pre-election events and just argue. Tonight I’m here to listen to you.”
This activity directly led to the inclusion in the SNP’s general election manifesto, launched a few weeks later, of a commitment that public funding for children’s palliative care would be placed on an equal footing to adult hospices.
Yet the devil is in the detail. Intense discussions with government officials on the true scale of that funding commitment followed before, at SNP Conference on 14 October, the Health Secretary announced a flagship funding package for CHAS totalling £30 million over the next five years!
Sustaining awareness of impact
That £30 million gave CHAS the transformative boost its service users need, but our next challenge was to demonstrate clearly what we planned to deliver for them, and how.
So, we launched an ambitious new Strategic Plan, Reaching Every Family in Scotland, detailing exactly how we’ll work with our partners to do more with the new resources. We also needed to ensure that a parliamentary audience would read and understand it so we coincided its launch with an equally ambitious national campaign, Keep the Joy Alive, which unveiled a new look for the charity, created by the children we support.
These were “officially” launched in June as part of a hugely successful collaboration with our national media partner, The Daily Record that included an interactive sticker campaign. To ensure that our stakeholders engaged with them, we sent every one of our parliamentary stakeholders a unique sticker pack, encouraging them to write a name tag in the new CHAS letters and send them back to us.
We also brought the Keep the Joy Alive sticker campaign to Holyrood with a drop-in event in June 2017 that allowed MSPs from all parties to design their own CHAS name labels before joining us for a media photo-call with our new larger than-life-logo. A parliamentary motion lodged by the event’s sponsor welcoming the campaign was signed by 25 MSPs.
As a consequence, we’ve received exceptional visibility for the Strategic Plan, ensuring that our stakeholders across Scotland know what CHAS is doing to deploy its new statutory funding effectively to reach more potential service users.
From a standing start in early 2016, we:
- Raised national awareness of our need for better funding in a way that meant decision-makers couldn’t say ‘no’.
- Secured an unprecedented third sector funding package worth £30m to transform CHAS services.
- Ensured that everyone in parliament and our stakeholder network knows exactly how we’ll use those resources to fulfil our aim of reaching every family in Scotland who needs our support.