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The Children's Panel - life changing

Children’s Hearings Scotland attends 15th Kilbrandon Lecture 29 November 2017

Kilbrandon Lecture 24112017
National Convener Boyd McAdam with the First Minister and panel member Ian Hart,
at the Kilbrandon Lecture in

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave the 15th Kilbrandon Lecture, which focused on the welfare of children and young people in Scotland, and the Kilbrandon principles underlying Scotland’s approach.

An important annual event, the Kilbrandon Lecture is given by a different person every year. It considers a range of issues that impact on a child’s upbringing and explores how together we can make Scotland a better place to grow up. The lecture also marks the legacy and impact of the report of the Committee headed by Lord Kilbrandon, which led to the establishment of the Children’s Hearings System in 1971.

This year, a number of people from the Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) community attended the lecture, including some from Area Support Teams, the national Children’s Panel and the national team.

The First Minister’s lecture centred on her vision of a fairer and more prosperous Scotland for this generation and the next. Throughout the lecture she reinforced the message that children and young people should have a voice in the decisions that affect their day to day lives – a message that will resonate with the CHS community and underpins our values.

The lecture covered a range of topics including ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ and its guiding principle that children get the right support from the right people at the right time, with the First Minister emphasising the importance of joint working. The Care Review, which is currently being supported by Fiona Duncan, was also highlighted as an important piece of work that will be driven by the involvement and views of children and young people who have experience of care. Their views and stories will shape what best care in Scotland should look like.

Reflecting on the lecture, Boyd McAdam said, “I’m delighted that the First Minister has paid tribute to the 3,000 plus volunteers who last year gave up over 360,000 hours of their time because they believe so strongly in making a difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people in Scotland.

“Like the First Minister and the Scottish Government, we look forward to the publication of the Care Review.  As an organisation, we wish to invest in the recommendations and outcomes of the report. The Children’s Hearings System has to respond wherever possible to the experiences and expectations of children and young people. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that we can support and meet this objective.”

In her speech, the First Minister talked, in detail, about the Children’s Hearings System as a system highly regarded by ‘observers from across the world’. She thanked the expertise, dedication and compassion of everyone involved with children’s hearings from reporters to volunteers to staff.

Speaking about the valuable contribution our volunteers make to the system she added, ‘But of course it is people who make that system work. That includes the Area Support Team volunteers who help to monitor and support children’s panel members. It also includes the panel members themselves who give up so much of their time. The positive difference they make through their contribution – to those children, to their families and to local communities – is extraordinary.”

Ian Hart, a Panel Member of 42 years, attended the event. He said, “During the 42 years I have been a panel member, there have been huge changes. Not only to the system to bring it up to date with a changing society, but also with the children with whom we are working.

“I am a supporter of the Kilbrandon principle where the difficulties that children experience in the community should be laid at the door of that community to deal with. In this very important work where you are making crucial decisions on behalf of vulnerable children and families, it is essential that voluntary services continue.”

You can read the full transcript of the 15th Kilbrandon Lecture here.

Find out more about what it’s like to be a panel member.