Panel Members celebrated in Scottish Parliament
The outstanding work of Panel Members at children’s hearings has been recognised at 'A celebration of the Children's Panel' at the Scottish Parliament.
More than 100 Panel Members joined MSPs and stakeholders from across children’s services at the Parliamentary Reception, sponsored by Rona Mackay MSP, who herself served as Panel Member from 2010 to 2016.
Twelve Panel Members received special recognition on the night for their exceptional service, spanning the whole of Scotland from South Lanarkshire to Eilean Siar.
Care for children 'an inspiration'
Ms Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, told the audience of around 150: “Panel Members are making some of the most difficult and important decisions of any public servants. They come from all walks of life and do an incredible job.”
Natalie Don MSP, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise, had been due to address the event but was unable to attend.
Ian Donaldson, Deputy Director of Children's Rights, Protection and Justice at the Scottish Government, addressed the audience on her behalf.
Mr Donaldson said: "Panel Members continue to give so much to the children that the hearings system exists to help. Your care and concern for Scotland’s children, and the desire to help them when it is most needed, is an inspiration."
At the heart of the event were four powerful speeches by members of the CHS Participation Group – young adults who have experience of the hearings system and who are directly involved in shaping improvements to hearings.
Each told the story of their encounters with the system as children, which included both good and bad experiences.
Among the Panel Members honoured for their exceptional service was Stephen Phillips, who has served in West Dunbartonshire since 1980 and in the past two years has averaged more than 100 hearings a year.
He said: "It's a privilege to be trusted with the details of people's lives, and the feeling you get of doing something useful for people is very rewarding."
Carol Murchison has been a Panel Member in West Lothian for 23 years. She said the standout lesson from her volunteering is the “incredible generosity, professionalism and supportiveness” of Panel Members.
“They show their knowledge, skills and experience, but not only that: they support other Panel Members, especially when times get tough.”