Volunteers needed to support Scotland’s children and young people in Caithness
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Today (Wednesday, January 12) Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) launches an ambitious campaign, to recruit new volunteer Children’s Panel Members to support children and young people in their local communities.
This year, CHS aims to recruit over 60 trainee Panel Members in Highland and Moray. Nationally, the organisation is looking to recruit over 700 trainee Panel Members.
The organisation is looking for people over the age of 18, from a diverse range of backgrounds, that reflect the children, families and communities of Scotland, that they support. CHS also has a legal obligation to have at least one male Panel Member at every children’s hearing, so this year the organisation is focused on raising greater awareness of the importance and impact of the role amongst men.
CHS national convener and chief executive, Elliot Jackson, says: “The Children’s Panel is a statutory service in Scotland, and couldn’t operate without volunteer Panel Members making decisions with and for children and young people.
“We are a forward-looking, inclusive organisation. One that puts the views of the children and young people we exist to serve, at the heart of everything we do – including recruitment.
“This campaign is centred on what young people who have experience of children’s hearings, are telling us they want to see in their Panel Members. Qualities like being caring, compassionate, empathetic and a good listener. If you want to make a difference in your local community, I encourage you to take the opportunity this year to apply to join our wonderful volunteer community.”
Panel Members are volunteers from local communities who takes part in children's hearings. Their role is to listen and make legal decisions with and for infants, children and young people. They are there to ensure that the young person is at the heart of every decision made – because every decision, no matter how big or small, has an impact on the life of the child or young person in the hearing.
Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, said: “Panel Members play a critical role in ensuring children and young people’s views are heard by placing them at the heart of their hearing. This is a unique opportunity to join a diverse, empathetic, caring panel who will listen to children and young people.”
Billy Wilson, a Panel Member in Highland and Moray, said “I knew the value of the hearing system and the difference it could make as it impacted and changed the life of one person close to me in childhood.
"I decided to become a Panel Member because it can make a difference to the lives of children, young people and their families with decision made compassionately but objectively and always with the best interests of the children and young people at the forefront of decisions.”
CHS is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting volunteer Panel Members. There are 2500 volunteer Panel Members across Scotland who take part in children’s hearings and make decisions with and for infants, children and young people in their local community.
In 2020/21 16,248 children’s hearings were held across Scotland supporting 8977 children and young people. The majority of hearings during the pandemic have been held virtually which was a massive undertaking for volunteers. There are a range of reasons that a child or young person may be referred to attend a children’s hearing; in the last year, approximately 85 per cent of all referrals were on care and protection grounds.
Applications for new Panel Members open on January 12 and close at midnight on February 9.
To find out more about the role and what is involved visit: chscotland.gov.uk/