Flora Henderson, Alliance Manager, explores how working together as an Alliance can strengthen the service we deliver.

Delivered by the In Care Survivors Alliance, Future Pathways was set up to offer something tangibly different to people who experienced childhood abuse or neglect in Scottish care settings. The aim was to directly reduce the inequalities that come from such experiences. 

Our vision was for people to have fuller, healthier and more independent lives. 

And that this could be achieved by focusing on what was most important to someone and by providing tailored support according to the personal outcomes or goals they wished to progress. 

It is known that the impact of childhood abuse is individual and wide ranging. No two people were alike in their experiences, therefore a personal response was vital. Having consulted with people about what was important to them, the challenge was to respond to a wide range of needs in a personal way. It was hard to see how a single organisation could respond.   

Early evidence highlighted the importance of this: by the time our first scoping report was completed, it was clear that people usually had multiple needs and few supports. Indeed, we found that people had shown great resilience in the face of services that did not always understand or respond to their needs. More of the same would not do.  

In an alliance, each partner is required to act in a certain way to achieve a common goal. 

The Scottish Government identified that alliancing had the potential to offer something new and different. The initial test was whether alliancing would enable partner relationships that allowed for a flexible response to individuals. Done well, it is a culture of innovation and learning, with all partners sharing risk as well as opportunities, never losing focus of the person’s needs and requirements.  

In Care Survivors Alliance brings together four partners:  

While each organisation has specific qualities, experience or remit that we can draw on, we also know that working together enables more effective support for those who access Future Pathways. 

Each partner can share learning, knowledge and expertise to strengthen the service we deliver.

Our collaborative approach also extends to our network of Delivery Partners and beyond. These are the organisations, services and individuals from which we commission support. Over time, we have developed and strengthened our network and we now work with around 62 active Delivery Partners. This commissioning model also offers the flexibility to respond to individual need, offer real choice to people and to truly tailor our support. For example, our network includes organisations and practitioners working across counselling, therapy and record searches, as well as in life coaching, or creative writing services. 

Our hope was that alliancing would lead us to a style of working that fostered inclusivity and learning.

There is a sense that a consistent priority placed on relationships and learning. There are examples of support being offered in new and different ways, improving the response to individuals.  

We have more to learn about the unique contribution that Future Pathways and our partners make in understanding what is most important to someone and convening support around them accordingly. 

Collaboration is essential to any alliance model. This is clearly the case for Future Pathways: our aims can only be achieved through the joint working and shared values of our four Alliance partners. We are committed to building relationships, learning from each other and reducing barriers to support where we find them. 

Alex has been working with us for about a year. We helped him to write a book – and he’s already planning the next one.

Alex is in his early 70s, and had never written a book before. However, when the idea came up during a call with his Support Coordinator, he was interested. Alex says, “I knew I had enough stuff to say, but I just wasn’t sure I was ready at that time.”

Alex decided to go for it, and the book was recently printed. It’s called ‘Priests Don’t Dae That’. It’s about Alex’s life, mainly his childhood in the 1960s. He wrote it with the help of Lea Taylor from the Book Whisperers. The Book Whisperers help people to write books. 

The writing and editing process worked well. Alex explains: “I’d put pen to paper, and then I would meet up with Lea and give her my pages. She would then put it all together for me. And she designed the book cover for me too.”

Book cover with text: Priests Don't Dae That. Alexander Buchanan.

It took Alex just a month or two to write the book: “Once I started writing, it came quite easily.”

Lea really enjoyed the process too. She told us “It was a joy working with Alex on so many fronts.” Lea told us how dedicated Alex was to writing his book. She said that “best of all was witnessing such a wonderful change in him as the work and his confidence progressed.

His story was fascinating, and I’m delighted to have helped Alex produce this powerful piece of work.”

The people at the Book Whisperers believe that just the process of writing a book can make you feel better about things, and that was true for Alex: “It was a great experience. I wish that I got it all out sooner, honestly, but I’m glad I have done it now, and I’m now more level-headed. I’m very thankful to Future Pathways and to the Book Whisperers.”

And what’s next for Alex? “I might write another couple!”

Dan Ross Motivation and Life Coaching
Man with white skin, short blonde hair, wearing a black t shirt is smiling directly at the viewer.
Dan Ross is a transformational life coach, helping people to move towards their goals using the resources and relationships they already have. As Dan says:
“My work is all about working in the here and now, and making a plan for the future.” 

He has developed a programme called “Ignite Your Inner Warrior.” The programme is about helping people to discover their inner potential.

Previously Dan was a counsellor, working in crisis settings. This gave him a wealth of experience of working with people in challenging life circumstances, which he is able to apply in his current role as a life coach.

The process

Dan works with people from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences, and feels that it is important to treat everyone equally. Central to Dan’s work is developing a mutual, trusting relationship with people so that they can work effectively together.

The process starts with a free session before starting to work together. During this session Dan meets the person he will be working with, and together they explore if life coaching is right for them. They also talk about how they will work together. Dan finds this helps people feel less anxious about it.

During sessions, Dan works with people to become more aware of their limiting beliefs. A limiting belief is a state of mind which can block someone from moving towards their goals. Sometimes people are not aware of their limiting beliefs.

By helping people see these blocks, Dan helps people transform their beliefs about themselves into more positive ones. Dan encourages people to identify values they wish to develop and embody. He says:

“The values you choose should be the opposite of your limiting beliefs. For example, if you struggle with people pleasing, one of your values could be assertiveness.”

Dan supports people to master their values and make them part of their identity and everyday life. He helps them to reframe their thinking and find new perspectives on challenges. This can help people to feel more able to work through self-criticism, and to feel more in control of their life.

Dan also runs a free mindset group for people he works with. People in this group attend events and workshops, and take part in challenges like cold water exposure, climbing mountains, or even free-falling.

Working with Future Pathways

Dan heard about Future Pathways when a Support Coordinator, Andrew, called him to enquire about his services. Andrew was working with someone who wanted to explore how life coaching could help him achieve his goal of becoming a motivational speaker. Dan describes his experience of working with Future Pathways: 

“It has been first class. The Support Coordinators have been personable and positive. I have had no communication issues at all. Any questions I had were quickly answered.”

Dan believes that life coaching is most impactful when people are ready to commit to change in their life, and he feels that everyone Future Pathways has connected him with has been ready to work together.

He also encourages the people he works with to stay connected with Future Pathways, and to share how they are doing with their Support Coordinator. This helps Dan work alongside Future Pathways to help people achieve their goals. 


Many people who Dan has worked with have achieved things that might have seemed impossible before their work together. For example, some people have started businesses or overcome fears to complete personal challenges. Some people tell Dan that his coaching has changed their life. It’s clearly a very successful partnership, which we hope will continue and develop for many years to come.

Find out more about Dan’s work at www.danrossmotivation.co.uk
Pat has been working with us for about a year and a half. He wanted to share his experience of working with Future Pathways.
How long have you been working with Future Pathways?

About a year and a half now.

How did you find out about us?

It was a friend. He got me to go to Wellbeing Scotland, and they told me about Future Pathways.

How has Future Pathways helped you?

Well, I didn’t really have much self-confidence and stuff. My Support Coordinator helped me to learn to ask for help. It’s a thing I found hard before, because of the way I’ve been brought up in life: basically, help always cost me something.

How did you manage to make that change?

One of the first things my Support Coordinator did is she got me a laptop: it’s a type of thing I would never spend money on just for me. She got me to understand that I’ve got to look out for me as well. And in the long run, that will help everybody else.

I found it great just sitting on the laptop. I like to learn, but I never had the confidence to learn and I was never encouraged. A website about photography came up. Years and years ago, I had a small camera and I loved it. I would just go out and walk and take photos.

So Future Pathways helped me get a camera, which helped me. It gave me a reason to get out there and do something just for me, basically.

How is life different now?

It’s definitely different. See the name Future Pathways? It’s like before, my pathway was always leading around about and coming back again, but they helped me make a different pathway, which has opened up the inner belief in me. I can do this, I can take photographs, I can do whatever.

I’m going to start a writing course in a couple of weeks, and that’s something I would never have even considered. I’ll be nervous! I’ll be uptight still, but I’ve got the belief to try it.

It’s great that you’ve got more self-confidence and you believe in yourself…

A while ago, my boy got me and my partner a Christmas present: a flight to Dublin. I never used it, because I didn’t have the confidence. But Future Pathways helped me, so I went for it, me and my partner. It’s the first time that we’ve been on a plane. I’m over 50 years old, and it was the first time I was on an aeroplane, the first time I’d looked at the clouds from the other side.

It was only a short flight, but it’s something I would have never attempted, never thought about. But now I know I can do this. It’s the simple things in life, that other people take for granted… they’re the most important things for me.

We work with Matter of Focus to help us evaluate the difference we make and see how we can improve. We spoke to Ailsa Cook, Co-Founder and Director of Matter of Focus.
Can you tell us a bit about Matter of Focus and the work you do? 

Matter of Focus is a purpose-led company and B Corp based in Edinburgh set up by myself and co-founder Sarah Morton in 2017. We support public and third sector organisations to understand, evaluate and track the difference they make.  

Sarah and my paths had crossed several times during our long and established careers in academia, where we had both kept one foot firmly planted in the real world of influencing policy and practice. We both really knew that organisations needed better tools to evaluate their own impact, tools that would empower them to learn in real time thereby deepening their understanding of their work, which is what’s required to really make the best difference possible. So that is what we set out to provide. 

Matter of Focus offers a practical and meaningful approach to understanding and evaluating change, along with expert support, and we have developed our own software OutNav to hold the approach and help organisations embed ongoing self-evaluation, learning and improvement. 

How have you worked with Future Pathways so far? 

We’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Future Pathways since 2018. They were aware of my expertise around evaluating personal outcomes and approached Matter of Focus when they were looking for support with their evaluation and research, which they knew was an important part of their work to build the evidence base for a new and pioneering service.  

Initially, we produced a scoping report to really understand the service; looking at the context in which Future Pathways was working, understanding how they make a difference and their progress towards that. This involved speaking to people that used the service as well as staff and other partners. Since then, we provided ongoing support and supervision for Future Pathways’ researcher as they were using OutNav to embed evaluation into their work. 

In 2020 we helped Future Pathways to produce their own impact evaluation, which was a substantial piece of work that mapped out how the service made a difference and brought together lots of feedback, data and evidence from across their work. 

Recently we’ve been working very closely with the Impact and Evaluation Lead to supplement the information they had available to evaluate the impact of Future Pathways. This included running focus groups and workshops and doing some additional analysis. We see ourselves as a learning partner for Future Pathways offering a bit of additional input at key points. 

We recently worked together to develop the Stepping Stones report. What can you tell us about the importance of collaboration when evaluating impact? 

We believe it’s important for organisations to own their own evaluation: that they are clear about what they need to know and what their data is telling them and, critically, that people in the organisation are really involved in making sense of that data because that’s what leads to meaningful and efficient learning and improvement. However, we recognise that evaluating complex relational services is incredibly challenging. We have been able to bring specific expertise, guidance and an approach to evaluating complex interventions. With Stepping Stones, we were also bringing objectivity: people could tell us things they might not tell Future Pathways directly and we can see the service with a bit of distance and fresh perspective. Coupling this external lens with Future Pathways ongoing self-evaluation over quite some time is really powerful 

What did we learn together about Future Pathways impact in Stepping Stones 

This evaluation has cemented understanding of how Future Pathways makes a difference. We can be confident that their genuinely trauma-informed and relational approach to care coordination works and makes a difference to people as, building on previous evaluations, the evidence is now clear 

Additionally, the Stepping Stones report has strengthened understanding about Future Pathways’ role within the wider system and the impact they have had by working closely with Delivery Partners to make sure they’re able to support people effectively. They really understand what they need to do next to shape the system.    

Future Pathwayscommitment to understanding the difference they make and their focus on embedding and sharing ongoing learning is inspirational and exemplary. We’re proud of our learning partnership. 

Our latest Quarterly Report is now available to view. It covers our work from January to March 2023. It shows what we’ve learnt, and includes key stats and feedback from those who access Future Pathways. 

This quarter:  

28 people started working with a Support Coordinator.  

More people heard about Future Pathways through word of mouth than from anywhere else.  

259 people accessed support from our delivery partners.

We worked with 70 active delivery partners. 

People told us they wanted to improve their mental health, their living environments and develop new skill.

People told us working with Future Pathways made a positive difference to their lives. For example, by giving them sense of pride in themselves or their achievements, and ways of coping.  

People told us where they heard about Future Pathways
Future Pathways linked people with a range of delivery partners this quarter 
People told us what they hoped to gain from working with our service
People told us about the most impactful support they accessed through Future Pathways 
Our full report features further infographics, feedback and a breakdown of our financial spend. Read the full report.
Rikki heard about Future Pathways in 2017, after contributing to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. He started working with a Support Coordinator called Lara.

Rikki had been struggling with his mental health and particularly with flashbacks. Lara put Rikki in contact with the Anchor, the Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service. Through the Anchor, Rikki accessed EMDR therapy. This is a type of therapy which can help people process trauma. Rikki found that this experience helped him to look at past experiences from his present perspective, as an adult. Together Rikki and Lara also explored how complimentary therapies, such as reiki and mindfulness techniques, could benefit his mental health. This helped Rikki find useful approaches to cope with flashbacks.

“I used to see one wee thing on the TV and I was back there in my mind. Now I have the techniques so that the flashbacks don’t stay with me.”

Volunteering has always been important to Rikki. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rikki volunteered to meet and greet people at his local hospital. After accessing support from Future Pathways, Rikki wanted to do something to support Future Pathways.

“You looked after me. You have got me to this stage. Now I want to give something back. I want to share what Future Pathways has done for me.”

Lara encouraged Rikki to get involved with Making Pathways Together. Through this project, people who have accessed support from Future Pathways gave us feedback to help us improve the service. Rikki also got involved in our survivors’ voice group, Voices for a Better Future. This group brings together people who are registered with Future Pathways with the aim of improving services for other survivors.

Currently, Rikki and other group members are working with Future Pathways to develop peer support within our service. Although at first Rikki felt hesitant to get involved in the group, being part of Voices for a Better Future has helped him feel more confident and helped Rikki move past feelings of shame and embarrassment that have affected his past relationships. 

“It has given me a lot of confidence. My life experiences are what I bring to the table.”

Being part of this group has also helped him develop relationships with people who also want to make a positive change.

“We became closer as a group. The respect is there. […] It is all about helping others […] We laugh together. Sometimes there’s a bit of emotion. People want to be heard. I can’t advise but I can sit there and listen.”

Overall, being involved with Voices for a Better Future has been a very fulfilling experience for Rikki. 

“Just being at the meetings, I know I am there for the right reason, to make people realise that they have a voice […] I feel passionate about Voices for a Better Future. There are a few tears, but we are doing it to better people’s lives.”