At least 700 volunteers wanted
Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) has launched an ambitious national campaign, to recruit new volunteer Children’s Panel members.
This year, CHS aims to recruit over 700 trainee Panel Members from across Scotland.
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.
Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland national convener and chief executive, said: “The Children’s Panel is a statutory service in Scotland, and couldn’t operate without volunteer 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 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.”
Stephen Haggarty, a member in North Lanarkshire, said “As someone who has experience of children’s hearings, I’d say that it’s vitally important that panel members are relatable, approachable, that they are good listeners and are focused on the needs of the child or young person. It is a challenging role but incredibly rewarding too.”
Children’s Hearings Scotland is the organisation responsible for recruiting, training and supporting volunteer Panel Members. There are 2,500 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 8,977 children and young people.
The majority of hearings during the pandemic have been held virtually which was a massive undertaking for our volunteers who managed to continue providing their support throughout. 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% of all referrals were on care and protection grounds.
Applications open on 12 January 2022 and close midnight on 9 February 2022.