Why not apply to join the Children’s Panel?

12 September 2017

National search for 500 new Children’s Panel volunteers is underway. A Children’s Panel member, who went through the hearings system as a child, urged people across Scotland to consider the unique volunteering role.CHS NEWS

Barry Black, 22, from Aberdeen, who has been a panel member for a year, joined with the National Convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland Boyd McAdam to launch the annual search for 500 new volunteers last month.

Figures highlight that, on average, over the last three years, a quarter of the total applications received (26 per cent) were from males – a figure Children’s Hearings Scotland is keen to increase in 2017 to ensure each panel continues to have the right representation.

The national Children’s Panel, Scotland’s largest lay tribunal, improves outcomes for vulnerable children and young people who are in need of care and protection or who have offended.

Barry was referred to the panel as a baby and believes his life could have taken a different course had it not been for the Children’s Hearings System. 

Now moving to Glasgow to work towards a post-graduate degree at the University of Glasgow, Barry highlighted that those with compassion, the ability to listen and a genuine interest in helping vulnerable children and young people should consider applying.

Barry said: “The Children’s Hearings System is a very unique system, and it’s a privilege to be even just a small part of it. 

“I had always been aware of the Children’s Panel as I am someone who personally benefited from panel intervention.  I was referred as a baby, and I believe that my life could have turned out very differently had I not been. I applied to get involved because I wanted to give something back and help make a difference.

“Since becoming a panel member I have developed into a more confident and empathetic person. I understand how to deal with and resolve difficult situations and am grateful to have been able to gain skills which I can use in life. I’d encourage those with an interest to find out more.  If it’s something you’ve considered, then you’re probably right for it.”

There are currently over 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 support.

This year, Children’s Hearings Scotland is also keen to hear from those interested in supporting the work of the panel through becoming a volunteer Area Support Team member.

Boyd McAdam, National Convener and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland said: “The motivations of our panel volunteers are all different.  For Barry, it is the desire to give something back.  For others, it’s about being able to help a child or young person who is facing challenges in their life, or about making a valuable contribution to their community.

“What unites our volunteers is their genuine compassion and dedication.  We need people from all backgrounds to make sure we continue to help change the lives of those children and young people who attend children’s hearings for the better.

“For those interested in taking the next step, I’d encourage them to visit our recruitment website, or head along to one of the local information evenings being held across the country to meet other panel members and find out more about the commitment required.”

Applicants need to be 18 or over. The deadline for applications is 26 September 2017 For more information visit childrenspanelscotland.org