Our Voices ...
What has it meant to our board members to work with The Promise? What are their hopes for the future? Here’s what they had to say …
“I am grateful to David for all the effort and time he has given up to work with OHOV. It’s been a pleasure working with him. I hope that the next generation get more support than what we got. There’ll be more support in place to help them understand things better, like understanding the decisions that are made.”
“It’s been a good experience to work with someone who’s been a judge. He knows what he’s talking about. It’s good that he recognises that there needs to be changes made.”
“I hope they manage to have the same people supporting children right through their time in hearings for consistency so the child will know who they’re dealing with. You ask for continuance but you don’t really get it.”
“I’d like to change the stigma around hearings. People assume you’ve done something wrong but they should really be about making the right decisions for your life. It doesn’t always feel like that.”
“I believe that all of the recommendations can be instrumental in bettering the hearing system, as long as they’re all done right.”
“David Mackie has been a breath of fresh air for me as a young person. I feel I’ve been fighting for so long to make things better and David truly feels like someone who is standing there with us and not just watching from the side lines.”
“Working with David Mackie has been refreshing; he made all the young people comfortable enough to share our experiences with him then put them into practice and put out recommendations that I believe will positively change the hearings system for the better.
“I believe a children’s hearing in the future will look disability friendly with ramps for all necessary buildings aids and sensory toys for neurodivergent children, advice boards for young people who want to make a change and for young people suffering with mental health a large OHOV display with tips for young people and opportunities to get involved in projects and many more young people friendly opportunities of support and advice that meet the needs of young people all across Scotland.”
“David has taken into consideration and actioned what everyone’s saying and what could be done better for hearings.”
“I’ve been told some positive things in hearings before, they’ve talked about how much I’ve matured and grown up and that made me feel quite good about myself and how far I’ve come. When people use the right language it can make a positive difference to me, like being recognised for your efforts.”
“I think they should be able to record hearings because some children might not get paperwork so they’ll be able to go back and listen to the meeting. Paperwork is more difficult to understand, some people have different ways of processing information. Recordings are more accessible. The changed role of the chair is a good idea too; having someone who’s more experienced and has more understanding of what they’re doing and can get to know you.”
“In five years from now when attending a hearing I will feel comfortable and welcomed entering the room because I already know who the panel members are. I have seen a photo of them and I know what they do to keep themselves busy, e.g. hobbies. I will be given a chance to say what I want to happen in my life. The panel members will be interested and listen to what positive experiences I have had and what I’ve achieved since my last panel.”
“The world is in a continuous state of change and at times turmoil, especially for those going through things in the hearing system. To accept this change and roll with the punches is integral to adapt and to listen to the young people who have experienced them and not acting to the ease of those who will carry those things into law.”
“Working with David has been rewarding. We’ve met with quite a lot of significant people in enforcing this change but none of them have quite put the effort in like David Mackie has, in the way that he’s taken on all our experiences and fed it back to us and is asking for the change, which I found much more rewarding than getting empty promises. This whole thing is proof that he has listened to us.”
“Children get heard and whatever they say gets considered, not swiped off to the side. Don’t assume that what children say is irrelevant or stupid because of their age.
“Working on this has been interesting. There are some good ideas and some need modified. I like how they met regularly with us but gave us choice about how we took part.”
“I think In five years I would like the hearing system to be around the child who they are discussing the future of. And they have a say in that idea because if they don’t then there is no point in having a hearing system”
Change is needed due to the fact that from my own personal experience within the panel at such a young age can be quite an overwhelming and sometimes traumatic experience and every time I had to attend it was during and some do the reforms for the children’s panel have the potential to counteract these negative impacts that the penal could have if the reforms were not introduced.
I hope Sheriff David Mackie’s group achieves the goal of making the children’s hearing system a more relaxing and comforting environment to all.
I have really enjoyed getting the work with Sheriff David Mackie and the Hearings system group a really good chance to network with good folk and it gives a chance to put all of ours great intellectual minds together to better the journey through the CHS for those after us that need the CHS to protect them and if the opportunity arises to work with these great people again I wouldn’t miss it.
“I hope the changes made mean that children are actually heard. This is massive, massive! So important. This is the main thing that needs to change. It impacts on the child now and on their mental health and coping skills in the future. We need to have a say to ensure we feel in control.”
“It’s good to know there are people that care and listen to us. Good that they also focus on building adults’ understanding of the changes needed.”
“I really enjoyed how he understood what we were saying and applied his experience and knowledge too.”
“The hearings system is a bit rubbish. It really needs to start listening to the person that’s most important- the child.”
“My hope is that children would feel comfortable in a hearing, listened to and feel more important.”
“Change is needed right now due to the cost of living crisis. More children will need help and this will be difficult for the system to cope with. The whole hearings system has been in disrepair for a while.”
“I hope the reform achieves good decisions for the child and acknowledging them as much as it can and not just following the views of the adults. I hope in the long term it makes it easier for the kids to cope with the hearings system.”
“Being part of this has been enlightening as it has given me more insight into the wider issues within the hearings system, not just from my point of view or personal experience.”
“I just think that before anyone gets involved with a child’s hearing they need to understand it’s about the child. You may have opinions but always focus back on the child. That’s not how things happen at the moment. How many times do lawyers talk about the child in a way that shows they have low expectations of our brain capacity? And also at the moment children are all treated the same, the recommendations are always the same for all children, they don’t see us as individuals. They think all children in the hearings system are the same.”
“I would hope that the professionals in the room would address the child directly rather talking to the adults in the room. I also think the child should be told the decision first, before the adults, and asked about their opinions on it. I want the system to be less judgemental and stigmatising. Parents need more help, they should be told what they need to do to get their child back. I also don’t think you should have an order against, for instance, your grandparents or wider family. If you’re taken from your parents the order should only apply to them. I think LAAC reviews should be more about the later life of the child. What happens when you grow up and don’t have support from your parents? Not just emotional support but financial as well? I also think the first ever hearing a child goes to, the child isn’t prepared for it. They need more preparation. I would like set panel members. And to meet the chair, panel, and reporter before the hearing. I would like professionals to meet the child in a more child-friendly way, without causing upset. Also, I think as well as having relevant qualifications, the professionals involved in the CHS should have appropriate qualities for working with children.”
“Working with David has been good. I like that we’ve been able to get involved without going to a hearing; there are other ways to get your voice heard. I’ve enjoyed the partnership with David.”
“Change is needed in the CHS because for so long it was very centred around the thoughts, beliefs, and wants of adults, rather than children.”
“Working with the HSWG has been interesting and almost uplifting, to see adults really pushing for change and other methods of support throughout the hearings system. I feel that I’ve been able to contribute in these sessions.”
“My vision of a children’s hearing in the future would be beanbags in the room, it would be very colourful and we could sit wherever we like and to have posters about telling us our different options. There’d be certain language we would use and if you don’t like looking people in the eye you could look about because there are hundreds of colours and things that are eye catching, so you could take your head out of it for a little while to distract yourself.”
“On the role of the chair – This idea links to the idea about being able to contact a member of the panel if decisions aren’t being followed through. Maybe the app could be used to contact the chair as well. I think it would be good to have a familiar face, it would make you feel more comfortable. Every time you went they’d be there so you don’t have to talk to a stranger or repeat yourself all the time. The only thing is, you might not get along with the chair you’ve been given, which would be an issue. I’d like to be able to trust the chair to tell them how I feel, knowing he or she would put the issue across in my own words and not in their words. I think you should have the option to choose your own chair. If it was me I’d want to meet the different chairs and ask them questions, spend time with them, and then pick the one I trusted.”
“On how we prepare the chair – This is a good idea. They’re getting the proper training they need. They should know about the risks that could happen in a hearing. I also think the rest of the panel should be trained to a higher level as well to make sure they have the right skills. I would be worried that some people might apply for the job because of money and not because they care about young people. In an interview they might seem like they care but you never really know.”
“On having the power to raise issues – At the moment you can only ask for an appeal for the ‘big decisions’ that are made in a hearing, not for anything else. This would be a good way to bring up other issues you’re not happy with. At the end of the hearing maybe we could get the number of a person we could contact from the panel, someone who was actually there at the hearing. I wouldn’t want to contact someone who wasn’t actually at the hearing. As for risks, the young person could abuse the system by taking their anger out on the panel and using it for the wrong reasons.”
“On recording hearings – At the moment they force you to go to the hearing and you shouldn’t have to if you don’t want to. Talking about things that make you uncomfortable makes you feel really small. It would be better to have the choice to miss the hearing and watch it back. You could speak to your social worker before the hearing to tell them what you want to be said. I would want to meet with my social worker afterwards as well so if I watched the hearing back and saw something I wasn’t happy with I could talk to my social worker about it as well. On the other hand, lots of people could then access the recording which invades your privacy. The young person might not like someone they don’t know listening to details about their life. I’m not sure what the solution would be to that.”