People needed now to help kids

VOLUNTEERS are being sought for the East Renfrewshire children’s panel as part of a nationwide campaign.

The month-long drive aims to attract 600 volunteers across Scotland — six of which are needed in East Ren — to join the 2,500 volunteers already attending hearings.

The panel meets regularly to address the needs and behaviour of young people facing problems, including abuse or difficulties at home, school truancy and committing offences.

Catherine Smith, chair of the ER children’s panel advisory committee, explained: “The children’s panel relies on attracting fresh volunteers and we need adults from all backgrounds to apply to ensure the system offers the best support.

“We’re not looking for people with specialist skills, simply those with the capacity to care about, and communicate with, children and families.

“It’s a vital role that helps us ensure that vulnerable children in East Renfrewshire have access to the care, support and direction they need”.

Clarkston man Kevin McPhail joined the panel six years ago after replying to a similar recruitment drive.

Father-of-three Kevin (49) commented: “I had just left the armed forces and was looking for something to do in the community – the children’s panel was something I was really interested in.

“The best reward you can get from being a panel member is the satisfaction of seeing a child happy.

“It’s very worthwhile when you see a child that others may have written off turn their life around”.

No qualifications are needed to join the panel, as full training on dealing with difficult situations is provided.

Kevin continued: “I usually sit on one panel a month which I find very manageable. I get the reports ten days in advance so I have time to read through and go back to them before a hearing.

“I tend to spend about three or four hours on preparation but everyone is different”.

To find out more about volunteering for the East Ren children’s panel, call 0845 601 2770 or text CHILD to 61611.

Further information is also available at www.childrenspanelscotland.org.