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The Children's Panel - life changing

Actor Brannigan launches search for Children's Panel members 25 August 2014

Angels’ Share actor Paul Brannigan has backed the call for people to join the national Children’s Panel.

Brannigan went in front of the panel as a child and believes ordinary people who have compassion for the struggle vulnerable children face make the best panel members.

The actor launched the search for the 500 panel members needed to ensure the system offers the best possible support, as a new campaign was unveiled highlighting the abuse and neglect some children and young people face.

Paul has openly spoken about his difficult upbringing in Glasgow’s east-end and the impact it had on him as a young child, leading to him attempting suicide when he was ten because he didn’t feel wanted.

Paul 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. 

“I remember going to meetings where people were trying to communicate with me, but they didn’t understand me.   

“I attended a couple of panels, but I probably didn’t attend enough, and think more intervention would have put me on a different path.  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.  People who have had experiences like mine probably think they couldn’t do the job, but they have the best insight in to what children who are at risk and are vulnerable are actually going through. 

“If you can relate to a person, and can have a rapport with them, you can make a difference.”

Paul has used his passion and experience to help young people, and now volunteers his time with the charity Progrez, helping children from a range of backgrounds into work and education.

He continued; “Vulnerable kids who are dealing with a lot of trauma need to be treated with great care.  Even if they want to change, they need support.  Everyone deserves a break in life.”

The three week recruitment drive is being led by Children’s Hearings Scotland, the body responsible for the 2,500 volunteer panel members who attend hearings to address the problems children and young people face in their lives.

Men in particular are being urged to apply, to ensure hearings have the right representation as law requires both men and women to sit on each hearing.

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 or young person.

“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 15 September 2014.  To find out more about becoming a panel member, text CHILD to 61611 or visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org