Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) has launched an ambitious national campaign, to recruit new volunteer Children’s Panel Members to support children and young people in their local communities.

This year, the organisation aims to recruit over 700 trainee Panel Members from across Scotland.

CHS 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. The organisation also has a legal obligation to have at least one male Panel Member at every children’s hearing, and this year, it is looking to raise greater awareness of the importance and impact of the role amongst men.

Children’s Hearings Scotland 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.”

Stephen Haggarty, a Panel 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.

Applications for new Panel Members open on 12 January 2022 and close midnight on 9 February 2022.

To find out more about the role and what is involved visit the CHS website volunteering with us pages.

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