Our board of young people at Our Hearings, Our Voice are committed to driving improvements in the Children’s Hearings System and one of the ways in which we approach this is by influencing key professionals and stakeholders. 

We’re always looking for ways to develop and strengthen connections with other agencies so OHOV board member Ciara Waugh and Participation Development Worker Amy Miskimmin-Logan were happy to be invited to speak at the Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) staff day in Edinburgh on the 6th March.

It was lovely to see lots of familiar faces in the room and catch up with CHS staff members with whom we’d worked on various projects in the past. CHS National Convener/Chief Executive Elliot Jackson kicked off the day by welcoming everyone and introducing the theme of the day: ‘Creating Connections’. There were many new members of CHS staff in attendance and during a fun ice breaker activity we had the opportunity to circulate the room and meet them.

Over the past few months OHOV has been working closely with CHS’ most recently appointed Participation Co-Ordinator, Angela Phillips. Angela started the presentation by talking about the CHS participation strategy and standards, and the importance of supporting young people to engage in meaningful improvement activities.

Ciara then started the OHOV segment of the presentation by talking about the 40 Calls to Action, which were created by OHOV three years ago. The 40 Calls are a list of improvements that our young people would like to see implemented, with the help of our partners and key policy makers. Ciara spoke to CHS about their potential role in bringing these changes about, and shared some examples of improvement work that OHOV had already been a part of. Reflecting on a recent ‘scrapbook’ for child-friendly Hearings project she’d undertaken in collaboration with SCRA, Ciara said: “As a young person, I believe that change is more meaningful when it comes from young people. We didn’t just pose the problem, we got to be part of the solution and that really matters.”

Ciara and Amy then talked about times in the past where OHOV and CHS have worked collegiately towards improvement. For example, OHOV board members designed and created animations that were used in the training of new panel members. One of our board members, Andrew, was also involved in CHS’s most recent recruitment campaign, while Ciara and board member Poppy interviewed for the recruitment of Katharina Kasper, CHS Board Chair. More recently (and still ongoing), our group ‘Language Leaders’ is made up of young people with lived experience of Hearings, along with professionals from CHS, SCRA and other organisations.

With a view to the future, Ciara returned to the 40 Calls to Action and focused on a few examples of calls that specifically relate to panel members. She asked CHS staff to consider and write down what they could do as either individuals, or as an organisation, to make these asks a reality. Finally, in accordance with the ‘Building Connections’ theme of the staff day, Ciara posed one last question: “We would like to know if you have any good ideas for how OHOV and CHS can work together and connect in the future. We are often approached by organisations and asked to take part in improvement work on a specific thing. While this is important, we would like to see more of a balance in the future between projects focusing on issues that have been decided by professionals, and projects about things we’ve already mentioned are important to us.’ We were encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive responses we received, with suggestions such as ‘co-design learning resources with OHOV’, ‘including young people in the development of training’, and, ‘help hold us to account on delivering for young people: we need to drive this for and with you.’

 We really enjoyed meeting everyone at the CHS staff day and were grateful for the opportunity to build and maintain good relationships with them. We look forward to working with CHS on more improvement work in the future.

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