CHS celebrates Pride Month - The importance of Inclusivity
At Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) our priority is to ensure children and young people feel listened to, are kept safe and that their best interests are upheld during children’s hearings. Our Panel Members, who make legal decisions with and for children and young people, are recruited from all walks of life. We want our Panel Members to reflect Scotland’s communities to build and retain children and families trust and confidence in their decision making.
As June is Pride Month, it is the perfect time to reflect on the values of CHS and the work being done to redesign the children’s hearing system, placing inclusion and the voice of lived experience at its heart to #keepthepromise to Scotland’s children and young people.
This year is a significant year for the Pride movement and the LGBT+ community as we commemorate 50 Years since the first Pride took place in the United Kingdom. This year is about commemorating the achievements in that time and looking forward while recognising the challenges still faced by the community nationally. As our understanding of identity and relationships has grown over the years, so too has our language and actions.
The language and ways of communicating during a children’s hearing are so important for all involved. Inclusive and positive language can help children and young people feel valued and that they are playing an active part. We strive to keep children and young people at the heart of all decision making, consistently working in collaboration with those with lived experience to make sure we continue to move forward in our practices and learning.
As language is so central to our learning, our Children’s Hearings Scotland Learning Academy have a focus on embedding inclusive and supportive language in all programmes and courses. Our community is made up of over 3000 volunteers in various roles, Panel and Area Support Team Members all are expected to understand the need for inclusive language and approaches. Our aim is for our volunteers and staff to set examples of what is empathetic and acceptable behaviour towards anyone regardless of background, gender or sexual orientation.
We launched our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in 2021 which included our priorities to offer a safe space for staff, volunteers alike to take part and raise issues close to their heart that will influence CHS’ culture and actions for the better. As well as language, our plans focus on communication, training and support, and on volunteer and staff recruitment and retention. Front and centre is our Participation Group provides opportunities for people with lived experience to shape and contribute to our work.
Pride Month reminds us that being welcoming, listening and responding to the needs of those we seek to support is the only way forward. So much work is still to be done to improve the lives of children and young people but small steps in the right direction can make the world of difference. By continuously improving our best practice, enhancing our learning and pledging and acting to #keepthepromise, we will create a better, safer, and more inclusive future for all.