Volunteer Panel Members needed to support Fife's children and young people

Children's Hearing Scotland - panel members wanted

Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) has launched its biggest ever national campaign to recruit new volunteer Children’s Panel Members to work with children in their local communities, including here in Fife.

Panel Members are volunteers from local communities who take 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 a huge impact.

Children’s Hearings Scotland National Convener and Chief Executive, Elliot Jackson, says: “The Children’s Panel is a really essential service in Scotland, and couldn’t operate without volunteer Panel Members.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we were lucky to have truly committed volunteers who made sure we could continue to support children and families in need of care and protection. They embraced different ways of volunteering, including online hearings, and I am really proud of everything they were able to achieve in what has been a really tough year for Scotland.”

The campaign aims to attract a diverse group of volunteers, to ensure Panel Members reflect the communities they live in, and who have the right qualities.

Elaine, a Panel Member in Fife, said: “It is so important that Panel Members are representative of Scotland’s communities. Having a wide variety of gender, age, ethnicity and backgrounds is vital to allow different mind-sets, points of view and opinions be heard and considered when making those decisions.”

Elliot explains: “We asked young people with lived experience of the hearings system what specific traits they wanted to see in their Panel Members. They were crystal clear and told us that it doesn’t matter what your background, your profession, or your age is – what matters are the qualities that you can bring to the room, such as compassion and empathy, being a good listener, someone you can trust.

“If you want to make a difference in your local community, I ask you to consider applying to volunteer as a Panel Member. You would be joining a vibrant community at an important time.”

In 2019/20 2,094¹ children’s hearings were held in Fife supporting the 528¹ referred 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, approximately 84%¹ of all referrals were on care and protection grounds.

Applications open on 14 January 2021 and close midnight on 15 February 2021.

To find out more about the role and what’s involved visit: https://chscotland.gov.uk/