Volunteers needed for Children’s Panel

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A NATIONAL search for new Children’s Panel members has been launched, and volunteers are needed in the Glasgow and East Renfrewshire areas.

There are currently 2,500 volunteers across the country, each attending hearing to address the needs and behaviour of neglected, troubled or abused children facing problems.

New volunteers are recruited each year, and men in particular are welcome to apply for a place on the panel.

Bernadette Monaghan, national convener for Children’s Hearings Scotland, said: “We’re appealing to those who want to help improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people to consider becoming a panel member.

“Although it can be complex and challenging, being involved can be hugely rewarding. It won’t just change a child’s life, it’ll change yours too.”

East Renfrewshire man Bobby Caldwell has been serving on the local panel since January this year.

The 55-year-old father of two has worked in the voluntary sector throughout his life, and finds being on the Children’s Panel very rewarding.

He explained: “With both my children now teenagers, last year seemed the right time to get involoved so I made the decision to apply.

“I participated in a fast track training course, so it was intensive but very good and clear from the start what was expected of us as panel members.

“While I think you will probably always be nervous going into your first panel, the training certainly prepares you the best it can.”

He added: “There’s always a need for new panel members and I think anyone preparesd to listen to the child’s views would make a good recruit. You need to be able to understand why a case has come before you and how best you can help.

“It’s both a worthwhile and necessary job, and gives you a sense of having made a positive contribution. That’s why I hope to contribute for many years to come.”

The deadline for applications is September 27. Applicants need to be 18 or over but no qualifications are needed and volunteers from all backgrounds will be considered.

To find out more, call 0844 848 3407, text CHILD to 61611 or visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org.