An urgent plea has been made to encourage anyone with “compassion and commitment” to volunteer to join the Children’s Panel.
Children’s Hearings Scotland is particularly keen to hear from men as the deadline approaches.
The national body has issued an urgent call for people who have compassion, the ability to listen and an interest in the welfare of children and young people to come forward. Applications for this year’s round of recruitment need to be returned by 30th September and 560 new panel members are being sought nationally, including in Shetland, to ensure the system continues to offer the best possible support.
Men in particular are being urged to apply, as by law both men and women are required to sit on each hearing, but there are typically more applications from women.
Luke Suddaby, 26, from Shetland, has been a member of the Children’s Panel for just over a year.
He said: “Sitting on a children’s hearing can be very challenging but also very rewarding. There’s a lot to learn but you have loads of support throughout and being in Shetland means you get to know the other panel members which really helps.
“You develop your decision-making skills and ability to react to difficult situations on the spot which helps you grow in confidence within the role. I’d encourage anyone thinking about joining to go for it.”
Applications can be made at www.childrenspanelscotland.org. The application process takes around 45 minutes and can be completed in stages, allowing the applicant to save their application at any point and go back to it later.
The website also contains information on what being a panel member involves, including a short video on what happens at a hearing.
Boyd McAdam, National convener and chief executive, Children’s Hearings Scotland said: “This is the year you could make a difference. I’d wholeheartedly encourage anyone who has considered becoming a panel member in the past to visit our website, find out more and consider applying.
“The contribution our 2,500 panel members make each year cannot be underestimated. It can at times be a challenging role, but it’s also hugely rewarding and can turn around the life of a child who is neglected, abused or troubled.
“With the deadline fast approaching, we’re especially keen to hear from any men who have empathy towards the situations some children and young people in Scotland face.
“If you bring compassion and commitment, we’ll provide the training and support. Please consider applying before the deadline if you think you have what it takes.”