At OHOV, we’ve had a wee break and been able to reflect on all that our young, hearings experienced board members achieved in 2022. Here are just a few of the highlights of the ways in which they have influenced change in adults and systems, improved existing provision for children and supported each other and children involved in hearings.

Influencing change in adults and systems 

Our board members have been at the heart of work to reform children’s hearings and the legislation governing it. Their 40 Calls to Action informed the issues list for consideration by the Hearings System Working Group and they have built up a meaningful, trusting relationship with the chair of this group, Sheriff David Mackie,  and the key manager involved from Promise Scotland. Our board members will meet with David Mackie again in early February to consider his recommendations to government for reform. You can read more about this on our website.

Board members have had the opportunity to influence practice through presenting at numerous events in 2022, including the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice National Conference, the first anniversary event on Advocacy in Hearings and sharing their views with panel members and reporters in Glasgow.

Three of our board members are working alongside young adults from the Voice Inclusion Project and a Champs Board, and five professionals from key agencies across the hearings system to ensure the language used in hearings is understood, supports involvement and does not stigmatise or traumatise children. You can read more about this co-produced, ‘word busting’ approach and watch this space!

In addition to all of this, the young people have responded to the consultation on the Child Care and Justice Bill, built animations to influence and train panel members, recorded podcasts, which will be shared soon, on improving hearings and Keeping the Promise in the hearings system, and been involved in recruiting and selecting a new chair for Children’s Hearings Scotland and board members for the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration.

Supporting each other and other children

As part of a design workshop in 2022, board members designed a prototype for Voice Magazine, written by young people with experience of hearings to support children and young people attending their hearings. The magazine will be published quarterly and available online and in all hearings centres. You can see a copy of the first edition as well as the story of how this came about on our website.

Another area our young people have been keen to progress has been how they support and mentor each other, especially younger or less experienced board members. We have co-designed a peer mentoring programme and you can find more details on our website. This, alongside recruitment of new board members and our Participation Development Worker, Amy, has allowed us to increase our reach and influence whilst ensuring this is done safely and in a trauma-informed way.

We continue to be curious and to share expertise on what works well for children in their hearings. The last two years have been unprecedented in the challenges children have had in sharing their views at decision-making forums like hearings. Our board members have helped to shine a light on those challenges through co-designing the focus, questions and methodology used in research into their experience of virtual hearings. Find out more in this update from the SCRA research team.

Improvement work 

Our board members have created the prototype for a pilot project in Fife, which will try out ways that young people can have more control and say over how, where and when their hearings are run. We hope to share more progress on this early in 2023.

OHOV has brought focus to improvement work across safeguarding, advocacy and the work of Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS)  and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), through their 40 Calls to Action . These were published two years ago and board members will be meeting with SCRA and CHS again in Spring to review their progress against these calls and to consider where the priorities for further improvement work should be.

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