Here’s a quick summary of just a few of the exciting projects the Our Hearings, Our Voice (OHOV) gang have been involved in lately…

Solicitors guide
 Board Members Ben and Ange have been working with Gordon Main from OHOV and  Collette from SCRA, plus some key organisations, to develop a good practice guide for solicitors to use in Children’s Hearings. This work has come about from children and young people saying time and time again that this is an area that needs to be improved. Ben and Ange have been considering the skills and qualities that they’d like to see solicitors demonstrating in Children’s Hearings, building on what other children and young people have already said. They plan to develop a ‘good practice guide’, training and other resources for solicitors. We’re delighted that this issue is being given time and attention and are excited to see what Ben and Ange come up with

Vincent and Dame Marsha Ducky are working on a Pre-Hearings scrapbook for children and young people to fill in before going into a Hearing. The idea behind it is to provide a child-friendly, personalised, and easy-to-update document that follows a child throughout their time in the Hearings System. Among a range of interactive features, the scrapbook will include space for children to share what’s important to them, write down any important decisions that are made during a Hearing, and ultimately to give children more control over their Hearing. The scrapbook will be trialled in Fife and we’re looking forward to hearing what children think of it.

Western Isles project
Understanding My Hearing (Before, During and After)

This project is closely linked to OHOV’s 40 Calls to Action and what OHOV board members have been saying for a while – children and young people need more help to understand the decisions that are made about them in Hearings. Ben is working with Hearings-experienced young people, adults and professionals in the Western Isles to pilot ways of making sure support is in place so that children are ready for their Hearings and understand what happens during and after they take place. This is all linked to the work on child friendly language (Language Leaders) and the scrapbook mentioned above. Well done Ben!

Virtual Hearings
Most of the board initiated and were involved in research into Virtual Hearings undertaken by Cat and Kirsty from SCRA last year. They were interested in hearing the good and bad parts of Virtual Hearings from the perspective of young people. OHOV board members shared their thoughts and Cat has been writing up the findings in a report. Recently, she enlisted the help of Zodie, Vincent, and Harry Dexter to add some artistic and editorial finesse to the report. It’s great to have such a talented and artistic group who can lend their talents to all kinds of projects.

Window displays
On the theme of art and creativity, if you’ve been in Glasgow city centre lately you may have spotted the incredible window displays Vincent and Dame Marsha Ducky put together in the Bell Street Hearings centre. One display highlights the link between the 40 Calls and the recommendations made in David Mackie’s report. The other window is a celebration of all things OHOV, with photographs of our work, copies of VOICE, props, merchandise, and an abundance of rubber ducks (naturally). Both window displays are attractive, eye catching, and informative. Reception staff in Bell Street say that they’ve received loads of great feedback from families and professionals visiting the Hearings centre. Great job V&D!

A few week ago Ben, Zodie, Vincent, Duck Armstrong, Dame Marsha Ducky, Harry Dexter, Mustang, and new board member Officer Quacks got together at The Studio to work with Jennifer Orren from SCRA on two leaflets she’s updating; ‘going to court’ and ‘going into secure care’. Jennifer says the feedback OHOV gave her was invaluable.

After the meeting we got to ‘Xcape Reality’ at two escape rooms; Misery and Starcrew. Well done for both teams for working together to escape in time! Looking forward to getting together for more fun team building activities like that in the future.

Language Leaders
The work of our language group continues to develop as we learn more and more about the language we’d like to see adults using in the Children’s Hearings System. Part of this learning has come from the virtual bin, where currently 95 words have been binned with a total of 1364 total ‘bins’ by visitors to the app. Duck Armstrong attended the CYCJ National Youth Conference and skilfully delivered a powerful presentation on language to professionals attending the event. The presentation was a huge hit, with delegates commenting on how much they’d learned about language and how they could change their practice as a result. Well done!

A huge part of the work OHOV does relies on board members participating; whether that’s through attending meetings, sharing their ideas, creating content, or empowering each other, participation is at the heart of our work. We really appreciate our board members taking time out of their busy lives to take part in the different projects they initiate or are invited to get involved in. At the aforementioned CYCJ National Youth Conference Dame Marsha Ducky worked closely with Kirsty from SCRA to facilitate a discussion with professionals about what helps and hinders young people participating in projects like OHOV. A big thank you to Dame Marsha for undertaking this task so confidently.

Panel Member Recruitment
Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) have been working hard on attracting the right people as panel members and have just launched a new recruitment campaign. Harry Dexter worked with other Hearings-experienced people to focus on the values that are so important to this work.

SCRA Staff Event 2023
OHOV board members Ben, Vincent, and Dame Marsha took centre stage at the recent SCRA Staff Event in Perth Concert Hall, where they had the opportunity to interview Principal Reporter Neil Hunter, Children’s Minister Natalie Don MSP, and Sheriff David Mackie. Vincent and Dame Marsha Ducky also shared some of the language work they’ve been involved in to 200 delegates as part of the ‘Language Leaders’ group.

CELCIS Webinar
Board member Dame Marsha Ducky, joined by Gordon Main and Amy Miskimmin-Logan recently presented the work of ‘Language Leaders’ at a webinar facilitated by CELCIS. The presentation covered our four language principles, findings from our ‘virtual bin’, and what this work means for change and improvement in the Children’s Hearings System.  Participants were invited to consider their own use of language as well as what supports or hinders meaningful participation of children in their work.

Interview with Who Cares? Scotland
Board member Andrew recently conducted a fascinating interview with the Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland, Louise Hunter. Among other questions, Andrew asked Louise about her work for Who Cares? Scotland, along with her professional background and interests. Louise explained her passion for social justice and offered advice for young people hoping to get involved in activism. Andrew and Louise’s interview will be published in Issue 4 of OHOV’s ‘VOICE’ magazine.

Social Work Scotland Event – Glasgow
Board member Dame Marsha Ducky is really developing a flair for public speaking. Having contributed to research by SCRA and Families Outside, Dame Marsha was able to use their own experience and expertise to deliver a presentation on the barriers and facilitators to meaningful participation at the Social Work Scotland conference in Glasgow. Dame Marsha stated that a flexible approach to communication, regular check ins, and support with travel can help young people get involved in participation, while tokenistic consultation is a real issue that frustrates many young people who want to be fully involved in driving change. Dame Marsha talked about the importance of being listened to by the right audience, and cited OHOV’s work with Sheriff David Mackie and Promise Scotland as a key example of this.

Language Residential Weekend
OHOV recently joined professionals and board members from Each and Every Child, The National Leadership Network, The Care Inspectorate Young Inspectors, and Champs boards from North Ayrshire, Stirling, and Falkirk for a language residential. It was an unforgettable weekend of building connections and learning, interspersed with fun, food, and friendships old and new. Some highlights from the weekend included teambuilding activities, poetry and art tables, discussion groups, and sharing the work on language each organisation had already completed. We loved meeting lots of friendly new faces and bonding over our mission to positively change the language that children and young people encounter in the Hearings System. The group will come back together with national and local leaders and policy makers on 5th December to drive forward our learning. A huge thank you to Each and Every child for facilitating the event.

Watch this space for more updates about the ongoing projects OHOV become involved in. We have a couple of exciting items in the pipeline and look forward to sharing more information soon!

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