The search for new Children’s Panel members in Eilean Siar got underway today at the launch of a new campaign.
Children’s Hearings Scotland appealed for volunteers with the help of Angels’ Share actor Paul Brannigan, who spoke of his difficult upbringing and stressed the importance of the panel in giving children and young people a voice.
Brannigan, who went in front of a panel as a child, believes ordinary people who have compassion for the struggle vulnerable children face make the best panel members.
The national Children’s Panel is made up of 2,500 volunteers, who play a crucial role in helping neglected, troubled and abused children and young people who face serious problems in their life.
To ensure the system offers the best possible support, 500 new volunteers from all backgrounds, particularly men, are needed nationally this year.
Paul Brannigan said: “I know what it feels like to be depressed and upset. It’s very hard for a kid to find inner strength when you think no one cares about you or what happens to you.
“The panel gives children a voice and a chance to speak about what they want to happen to them, which is so important.
“That’s why people from all backgrounds are needed. If you can relate to a person, and can have a rapport with them, you can make a difference.”
Boyd McAdam, National Convener and Chief Executive, Children’s Hearings Scotland said: “This is a unique role, and one which can make a huge difference to the life of a vulnerable or troubled child.
“Our new campaign is appealing to people to be the barrier between a child and a situation that could put them at risk. If you have empathy towards the issues some children and young people face and feel you can make decisions with the child or young person and their family on what needs to be done, we want to hear from you.
“No two panel members are the same. We need people of different ages, from different backgrounds and a good mix of males and females to make sure children and young people who attend hearings are listened to by people with different experiences.
“Compassion and an ability to listen are key, and the comprehensive training we provide gives volunteers all the skills they need to deal with the complex and challenging cases they will face.”
Applicants need to be 18 or over and no qualifications are required. The deadline for applications is 22 September 2014. To find out more about becoming a panel member, text CHILD to 61611 or visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org.