Volunteers supporting the Children’s Hearings System in Midlothian have been praised for their commitment.
In Midlothian, Children’s Panel and Area Support Team members give their time to make a vital contribution to the lives of troubled and vulnerable children and young people, and during the recent national Volunteers’ Week, Boyd McAdam, the national convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland, added his thanks for all they do.
The recognition of their commitment comes ahead of this year’s recruitment drive, where more than 500 new Children’s Panel members of all ages and backgrounds will be sought to ensure the system continues to offer the best possible support.
Most recent figures highlight that across Scotland 15,329 children and young people were referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration in 2015/16, resulting in 34,896 Children’s Hearings taking place.
The system, which deals with troubled or at risk children and young people who are in need of care or who have offended, relies on the generosity, skills and commitment of those who volunteer their time – like Alison Hinds (55) from Penicuik.
Alison, who is a research network manager with the University of Dundee, has been a member of the Children’s Panel for five years.
She said: “I had always been interested in the Children’s Panel and decided to apply after my children went to University. I wanted to give back to my local community and help support children in my area.
“Being a panel member is extremely rewarding but can be quite challenging at times. When you see a child that has turned their life around thanks to the hearings system it makes it all worthwhile.
“I’ve learnt a lot about childhood development and being a panel member has opened my eyes to what some families in my community are dealing with. It is a privilege to be part of something that is making a positive difference to children’s lives.”
Mr McAdam said: “Collectively, we have a network of almost 3,000 volunteers across Scotland either as panel members or as Area Support Team members. They devote their time to help vulnerable children and young people who face challenges in their lives.
“Our Children’s Panel members are drawn from local communities and sit on children’s hearings where they make decisions to improve the lives of these children and young people. Our Area Support Team members work tirelessly to lead and support our panel members at a local level, from providing pastoral support and local learning and development opportunities to performance feedback and rota management.
“Their commitment and contribution is remarkable, and it’s important it is recognised and valued. I’m delighted we have an opportunity this Volunteers’ Week to do that. The system wouldn’t exist without them, and their dedication means that children and young people who are troubled or at risk can be cared for and protected. For that, I would like to personally thank all our volunteers and would encourage anyone who thinks they could make a difference to consider applying.”
Recruitment for new Children’s Panel members will open in August. To find out more and to register your interest, please visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org.