The annual recruitment drive for new Midlothian members of the Children’s Panel is underway, with the current head urging locals to join.
As part of a national drive, the Children’s Panel in Midlothian is looking for new members to come on board, training from January to April to become members by June. There will be three open evenings in the coming weeks for people to see what the role involves.
Lead panel representative for Midlothian, Andrew Ketteringham, said: “Panel members are from any walk of life, with a willingness to try and help the most vulnerable children in Scotland. At the moment in Midlothian we have got 60 panel members.
“We have 12 panel sessions each week, which each need three panel members to be at so that’s 36 panel members a week required.
“With everyone doing two a month we can just about cover it at the moment. But there are always people leaving who just can’t commit any more.
“We have had seven leave in the last year. And I know of another three leaving this year.”
The role is completely voluntarily, although travel expenses and loss of earnings can be claimed back.
Andrew explained why he is a Children’s Panel member.
He said: “I have been a panel member for 13 years, and lead for just over two years. I find some sort of fulfilment from it. It can be hard work. There is a lot of preparation.
“You have to read through reports which can take two or three days. And then the hearing itself lasts half a day. Then you have to write up reports after the hearing.
“But it’s very rewarding knowing that you are making the best decisions you can through your training and listening carefully to who is saying what to make the best decision for the child in front of you at the time.
“It’s knowing you are making a difference.”
The Children’s Panel recruitment information evenings in Midlothian (all 6.30pm): August 30 at Penicuik Town Hall; September 3 at Midlothian House, Dalkeith; September 12 at St Margaret’s Primary School, Loanhead.