Our Hearings, Our Voice have continued to be involved in the research being carried out by Catherine Nixon at the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration into the impact of Virtual Hearings on children’s participation and rights. Members were initially involved in the research design phase (see our website for more details). 

Since then the project has involved a survey completed by foster and kinship carers, interviews and focus groups with residential and foster carers and most importantly interviews and sessions with children and young people who have taken part in virtual hearings. Members of OHOV worked with the research team to review the research questions used in these methods of gathering information and have also taken part in sessions themselves to share their own views about their experiences of virtual hearings. They also worked with Catherine to co-produce a Participatory Toolkit which has allowed children and young people to share their views through creative methods and shared activity. This Toolkit will be able to be used in all SCRA’s research work with children and young people in the future.

Initial findings were presented by Catherine at the Coronavirus, Children and Care Conference at Northumbria University in December 2022. OHOV acted as advisors on the messages to be conveyed about the use of virtual hearings at this Conference and their voices were also included as both the consultation on resuming face-to-face hearings and the data collection sessions undertaken as part of the virtual hearings research were included in the presentation. 

While many of the findings focussed on the barriers to participation that young people had experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, members of OHOV asked that the conference be left with the message that choice was needed about how young people participate in their hearings, and this includes asking about preferences for using digital technologies.

Information from the consultation work carried out in July 2021 has also formed part of an analysis of how the use of virtual hearings affected the participation and rights of children and young people. The plan is to publish this piece of work early this year.

Catherine will continue to work with OHOV this year with members being able to be involved in the analysis and write up of the final results ensuring that we are continuing to #KeepThePromise by placing children and young people’s voices at the centre of the work that we do.

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