John Swinney MSP, has spoken at a youth and children’s work conference in Scotland to strengthen the bond between government and the Christian community.
The Deep Impact conference, held annually is a national training weekend in Scotland for Christian youth workers, organised by youth agencies and the Evangelical Alliance.
This year, Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills – John Swinney MSP – joined the 350 volunteers to deliver a speech of encouragement.
In a keynote speech, the Deputy First Minister said that the Deep Impact conference was a “great example of Christian service” and that the Scottish Government “appreciates the valuable contribution our Christian communities make to Scottish society, including supporting many of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities”.
Swinney said: “Deep Impact is a wonderful celebration of best practice in the Christian youth and children’s work sector, and I look forward to opening the conference this weekend. It is a great opportunity to thank volunteers in person for the valuable work they do across a range of different projects throughout Scotland.
He praised them for promoting interfaith dialogue, “a goal the Scottish Government strongly shares and promotes as a way to strengthen and enhance connections across communities, lower barriers, eliminate fear and increase understanding.
“It is extremely welcome to see the partnership the conference has with YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youthwork. Constructive partnership between church-based community projects, the wider voluntary sector, and our statutory agencies is important as we seek to fulfil our shared vision of making Scotland the best country in the world for children and young people to grow up.
“The Scottish Government values our relationships with our Christian communities and appreciates the valuable contributions they make to Scottish society including supporting many of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.”
Ali Laing, Chair of the Deep Impact planning team, said: “Sometimes people are under the mistaken impression that the church has retreated from serving the local community over recent years. The numbers around Deep Impact show not only is that not the case but Christian youth and children’s workers make a significant impact in communities across Scotland.”
Fellow SNP politician, Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, also attended, saying: “I’m delighted to welcome delegates from across Scotland to Deep Impact, which is once again being held in my constituency.
“I have spoken at Deep Impact in the past, to welcome all delegates, and it’s good that Deputy First Minister John Swinney will be doing that this year.
“The majority of delegates are volunteers, many of whom are working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in Scotland. They are absolutely instrumental, and I’m sure that if they did not serve people as they did then we would notice a massive gaping hole.”