At Our Hearings, Our Voice (OHOV) we have always tried to follow Laura Lundy’s model of participation[i]. We provide safe, inclusive space for children to express their views as well as options, information and control over how they amplify their voice. This can be meaningless unless their views reach the right audience with the power to make changes for children and are taken seriously and acted upon (have influence).
We believe this has been put into action through building meaningful relationships across time with a key audience; those individuals responsible for consulting on, designing, and ultimately recommending reforms to laws around Children’s Hearings.
OHOV board members begun this journey with retired Sheriff David Mackie in November 2021 around the time he took up his role as Chair of the Hearings System Working Group (HSWG), which will make recommendations to Scottish Government for reform to the Hearings System in April 2023.
You can read more about that first encounter here.
Since then David has met with the young people on multiple occasions, usually supported by Christina Spicer, Public and Policy Manager at Promise Scotland. These meetings focused on a range of outcomes from helping David and Christina to understand OHOV’s Calls to Action for Hearings, to supporting the board members to learn about design and to build prototypes for change, to testing out emerging change proposals.
The Issues List for HSWG (the themes they wanted to dig into) was mapped against OHOV’s 40 Calls to Action so we are confident our board members are being actively listened to. This earlier OHOV news item gives more details on some of the other engagements our board members had with influential audiences for HSWG.
At our most recent meeting on 11th February, David and Christina shared four key proposals for reform of Hearings with eight of our board members. The young people were encouraged to sense check each idea to see if it fitted with their previous ideas and the 40 Calls to Action; to step into others’ shoes and consider what excited or concerned them about the idea; and to try and break it by thinking about how it would work in real life.
The Promise Team left with rich ideas which will be supplemented by individual consultations which we are having with board members who were not able to attend.
David Mackie, as always, said that he was leaving with ideas that he could only get from speaking with young people with lived experience of Hearings.
ere is his response to an interview with one of our board members, Ben[ii], who asked:
“As the chair of this group you have worked hard to build a relationship with us at Our Hearings, Our Voice. Why have you done that, and what have you got out of it?”
“I’ve done it because it’s all about you. Your voice has informed the Independent Care Review and it should continue to inform the redesign. What have I got out of it? Every single time I meet you I come away with some perspective or idea that just would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t been with you; it’s happened today again. I find you an inspirational group, and I’m not just saying that, I really mean it. You are inspirational – you open my mind up.”
Sheriff Mackie will make his recommendations for legal reform of the Hearings System to Scottish Government in Spring 2023. You can read Ben’s full interview with him, including his motivation to be involved in Hearings reform, in the second edition of OHOV’s Voice magazine, to be published in late March 2023.