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Making it easier for children to give feedback

Children’s Hearings Scotland is making it easier for children and young people to give feedback on their experiences of hearings – whether good or bad.

Over the past year, staff from CHS’s Practice and Standards team have been reviewing our complaints and feedback channels and procedures, a process that included talking with young people who have lived experience of children’s hearings.

The work was part of a wider programme of activity focused on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child under CHS’s Promise Programme, which was launched in 2021.

Children’s views

It became clear that young people sometimes left hearings feeling they were unable to express their views. They told the CHS team that the problem was less about being able to complain, more about being able to tell organisations and people involved in the hearings system how they felt at all.

It was also clear that young people sometimes did not know who to give feedback to – which organisation was responsible for the different parts of their care and support.

Child-friendly portal

With the help of young people, CHS has developed and launched a new feedback and complaints portal on our website, which is now being tested and refined in collaboration with children and young people.

CHS is also working closely with the Scottish Children’s Reporter’s Administration (SCRA) to develop a single point of entry for children and families wishing to provide feedback about their hearing, regardless of which organisation will eventually receive and respond to the feedback. Such a system was recommended in the ‘Hearings for Children’ report of the Hearings System Working Group, published in May.

“If we are going to improve hearings for children, it is vital that they are encouraged and supported to provide feedback. We need to make it a routine part of their hearing journey, not just when things go wrong but also when things go well.

“We need to remove barriers to providing feedback and also show that children’s feedback does make a real difference.”

– Stephen Bermingham, Practice and Standards Team, CHS

Case study: hearing from Harmeny

Following feedback about a hearing from a young person, two CHS colleagues recently visited the Harmeny residential school in Balerno, Midlothian, to hear more from the young person and from others, about how hearings could be improved. The CHS visitors were given a tour of Harmeny by the children and have made a short video summarising what they learnt, to share with all the Harmeny residents and close the feedback loop.

"It is crucial that we learn from children’s feedback and to do this effectively we need to remove barriers.

"This can mean getting feedback at a time and a place that works for the child and in an environment where they feel comfortable and have the support of trusted adults.

– Mel McDonald, Practice and Standards Team, CHS