Call for new Children’s Panel members

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Children’s Hearings Scotland has issued the call for new Children’s Panel members needed to help vulnerable children and young people in Angus.

The Children’s Panel, Scotland’s largest legal tribunal, improves outcomes for troubled or at risk children and young people who are in need of care or who have offended.

This year’s recruitment campaign is focused on highlighting what it means to be a panel member in a bid to attract the right candidates – and Children’s Hearings Scotland appealed to those with compassion, empathy and the ability to listen to come forward.

To equip each applicant for the role, there is an initial training programme, spread over two years. Once trained, panel members must commit to on-going training as well as preparation ahead of attending one to two hearings sessions per month.

The recruitment drive is being supported by panel members across Scotland who have spoken of their motivations for getting involved and how they fit panel responsibilities around existing work commitments, including Emma Clayton from Bogindollo.

Emma, 38, has been a member of the Children’s Panel for five years and is an operations manager. She applied to become a panel member as she wanted to help support children in her local community.

She said: “As my family grew I had cut down on my hours at work but I wanted to do something else worthwhile. I saw an advert in the local paper for the Children’s Panel and decided to apply.”

Emma believes the work and training she does with the Children’s Panel has also allowed her to gain skills that she can use in her profession.

She said: “My employers are very supportive of my role on the panel and they recognise how important the hearings system is. The training you complete is second to none and encourages you to build skills and knowledge that benefit both your working and personal life. My confidence has grown and I have become much better at managing people and situations – knowing when to take a step back and look at the full picture before making a judgement call.

“Being a panel member is so rewarding and I would encourage anyone who was considering applying to go for it. It is not for everyone but it is a great thing to be part of. I know that if the Children’s Panel can make a change to a child’s life at the right time it can transform their future and put them in better stead for adulthood.”

There are currently 2,500 volunteer panel members across Scotland, however new recruits from a range of backgrounds are needed each year to ensure the system continues to offer the best possible support.

Boyd McAdam, National Convener and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland, said: “Without the support and commitment of our volunteers, there wouldn’t be a hearings system in Scotland. The role is unique, and those who give their time are unswerving in their dedication to improve the lives of those children and young people who are vulnerable or troubled.

“This year, we want to be clear about the commitment involved in being a panel member in a bid to ensure people who apply understand what being a panel member involves. We’re indebted to the many employers who give their employees time off to attend children’s hearings, and would encourage potential applicants to talk to their employer prior to applying.

“Although the commitment is considerable, it is equally rewarding, if not more so. By giving your time, you can help make a real difference to the life of a child or young person facing an uncertain future.”

Applicants need to be 18 or over. The deadline for applications is September 25. To find out more about becoming a panel member, or to apply online visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org.