Children’s Hearings Scotland launches drive to recruit 500 new Panel Members
Children’s Hearings Scotland have launched a national campaign to recruit over 500 new volunteer Children’s Panel Members to play a crucial role in supporting infants, children and young people across Scotland. In Ayrshire, Children’s Hearings Scotland are looking to recruit 45 new Panel Members.
This new campaign aims to attract a diverse range of applicants, with an emphasis on recruiting more men and young people.
Children’s Hearings Scotland National Convener and Chief Executive, Boyd McAdam, said, “We are a listening organisation. What we are hearing loud and clear from children and young people attending hearings is that they want to see more diversity on the national Children’s Panel.
“Whilst the average age of Panel Members has fallen in recent years we know we need to do more. We also wish to increase diversity in terms of life experience that people across Scotland can bring to the role.”
James, Panel Member in Ayrshire, believes that “it’s very important to have someone to support children. Children’s Hearings Scotland volunteers do this without knowing the child or young person or their families. This ensures a panel can make a decision with and for the child in their hearing. Panels are made up of all different people with all different views but always with the best interests of a child or young person at the heart.”
To support recruitment, the campaign has been redesigned for 2019 with a focus on the types of qualities everyday people have and can bring to the role.
Boyd adds, “It is important that we reach as wide a range of people as possible because we need those who can relate to infants, children and young people and can make the very best decisions with and for them. This can be tricky for us as we know that there are some common misconceptions about being a Panel Member, such as ‘you need a law degree’ or ‘you have to have worked in children’s services’. Neither of these is the case. You need qualities like empathy, compassion and the ability to listen.
“The public are also sometimes unfamiliar with what Panel Members do and the Children’s Hearings System more generally. So, I’m asking the Scottish public to get behind our young people and to find out more. Think about what you might be able to contribute and help us spread the word about this important role.”
North Ayrshire Councillor John Sweeney, representative on the Ayrshire Area Support Team, said: “Each year, more people are needed to continue the great work of the Children’s Panel. Potential volunteers often worry that they lack the experience or qualifications to get involved as a Panel Member but this simply isn’t the case. Full training is provided, but what matters most is the desire to make a difference to the lives of children and young people who are in need of care and support.”
East Ayrshire Council’s Children’s Champion and Depute Provost, Claire Leitch, said: “As a community we all have a role to play in giving our young people the best possible start in life. This includes offering guidance and helping those who are in difficulty. Being a Panel Member gives people a chance to make a real and positive difference to young lives while helping to make our communities happier, safer places for all to enjoy.”
Councillor William Grant, Children and Young People Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council, said: “This is an extremely important and rewarding role and a great opportunity to help us deliver positive and far-reaching outcomes for infants, children and young people in our local community.
“Volunteers are essential to ensure the consistent and smooth operation of the panels, so I would encourage people to apply and help us support Scotland’s young lives.”
Children’s Hearings Scotland is the organisation responsible for recruiting, training and supporting volunteer Panel Members. There are 2,500 volunteer Panel Members in Scotland who make decisions with and for infants, children and young people in their local community.
In 2018/2019 31,653¹ children’s hearings were held across Scotland supporting 12,869¹ children and young people. 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 85% of all referrals were on care and protection grounds.
Applications close midnight on 17th September 2019.
To find out more about the role and what’s involved visit: www.childrenspanelscotland.org.
If you're interested in becoming a Panel Member, we recommend attending an Information Session in your area. Details for Information Sessions in your area are below:
- 10 September 2019, 7 - 9pm, Greenwood Conference Centre, Greenwood Gate, Dreghorn, Irvine, KA11 4GZ
Louise Farmer, Communications & Engagement Lead – 07508 799405 / 0131 244 3696 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathalie Helene, Communications Officer – 0131 244 3696 / Communications@chs.gsi.gov.uk
Notes to Picture Editors:
Two campaign images can be found via the following link: https://we.tl/t-xED2xcY7u2
Notes to editors
Notes to Editors:
- Case studies featuring Panel Members are available upon request.
- Top myth busters and facts about the Children’s Panel
About Children’s Hearings Scotland:
Children’s Hearings Scotland is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting around 2,500 skilled volunteer Panel Members who take part in children’s hearings and make high quality decisions with and for infants, children and young people.
The organisation also recruits, trains and supports a network of 22 volunteer-led Area Support Teams (these are teams that support Panel Members at a local level) made up of around 400 volunteers.
Children’s Hearings Scotland’s vision is of a Children’s Hearings System where everyone works together, making sure that all infants, children and young people are cared for and protected, and their views are heard, respected and valued.
CHILDREN’S PANEL - MYTH BUSTER
You have to be retired to be a Panel Member…
This is a common misconception about being a volunteer Panel Member on the Children’s Panel. In fact, anyone can be a Panel Member as long as you are: 18+ years of age, live and/or work in the local authority area in which you wish to volunteer.
You need to have an education in child services, or a career in child protection…
Wrong. We’re looking for people who have the ability to relate to infants, children and young people in their hearings. And, for common every day qualities such as empathy, compassion and good listeners.
Many people are put off volunteering as a Panel Member because they don’t think that they’re qualified enough to make the legal decisions required with and for infants, children and young people. However, our Panel Members receive free and thorough initial and ongoing training which makes them comfortable, competent and confident to take part in children’s hearings.
You need to have lots of free time to be able to volunteer…
Panel Members are asked to prepare for and take part in children’s hearings and as with all volunteering roles, you do need to commit some time to the role. However, many of our Panel Members are actually in full time employment (those interested in volunteering with us will need to talk to their employer about securing some hours off).
Children’s hearings usually take place on weekdays during daytime hours and Panel Members are normally asked to attend either a morning or an afternoon session once or twice a month.
We find that many organisations are supportive of their employees wanting to volunteer and offer time off to do so.
You need to be a lawyer or know Scots law inside and out before applying…
You don’t need to be a lawyer or know Scots law inside and out to volunteer with the Children’s Panel. Our Panel Members receive thorough initial and ongoing training, at both a local and national level, as part of their volunteering role that will set them up with sound knowledge so that they feel confident in making the best decisions possible with and for Scotland’s infants, children and young people.
A children’s hearing is only for children and young people who have committed an offence…
The majority of children and young people attending hearings have been referred because there are worries about their welfare, or they need care and protection. Reasons for referral are often very complex.
The Children’s Hearing System and children’s hearings are designed to make sure that infants, children, young people and their families get the right help and support when they need it.
TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S PANEL
- The Children’s Hearings System is Scotland’s care and justice system for children and young people.
- The Children’s Hearings System is ground-breaking in its approach to caring for infants, children and young people.
- A children’s hearing is a legal meeting. At every children’s hearing three volunteer Panel Members (who are part of the Children’s Panel) are present.
- Children’s hearings formally recognise the rights of infants, children, young people and their families. The UN Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) is central to the decisions made by the Children’s Panel and supports Panel Members to make the best decisions with and for infants, children and young people.
- Panel Members read reports, hear information from professionals and listen to children, young people and their families at hearings with the aim of making the best possible legal decisions with and for the child or young person.
- In one year alone, 31,653¹ hearings were held supporting 12,869¹ children and young people throughout Scotland.
- All Panel Members receive thorough training and are supported to ensure that they are equipped, competent, and confident to make decisions with and for children and young people.
- Panel Members are appointed for an initial three year period after completing their training. Every three years Panel Members are reappointed if they would like to continue.
- Children’s hearings usually take place on weekdays during daytime hours. Panel Members are normally asked to attend either a morning or an afternoon session once or twice a month.
- Almost anyone can be a Panel Member, as long as they are 18+ years of age, live and/or work in the local authority area in which you wish to volunteer, and able to attend training between December and May.
Ready to apply? childrenspanelscotland.org