Twenty two year old Hannah is a fourth year law student at the University of Stirling and has taken part in children's Hearings in Central and West Lothian since May 2019. When she’s not studying for her degree, Hannah works part time for a chemical manufacturing company in Grangemouth.
“I decided to volunteer for the Children’s Panel because I really enjoyed a Family Law module I studied at university and thought it would be a great way to get relevant experience in the area."
Hannah believes the strength in the Children’s Hearing System lies in its focus of keeping the child or young person at the heart of every discussion and decision.
“A children’s hearing provides an informal and “less scary” environment where the child or young person can express their own opinions and wishes about their situation to normal people, rather than professionals.”
Hannah, like the hearings experienced children and young people we have spoken to, believes that the Children's Panel would benefit from increased diversity.
“I think it is so important that the Children’s Panel is more representative as it shows children and young people of all ethnicities and backgrounds that they are represented too.
“I think it is especially important that there are younger people on the Panel too, as the child or young person may feel more trusting towards someone closer to their age and may feel they have a better understanding of the problems they face. I also think that younger people can provide a different perspective to older generations.”
For Hannah, being a volunteer Panel Member has not only allowed her to positively change the lives of children and young people in her community, but has also changed her own life for the better.
“The Children’s Panel has had a massive impact on me – far bigger than I ever thought it would. Not only have I met some of the kindest people ever, I’ve also gained a fountain of knowledge in so many different areas.”
“Having had a very sheltered and comfortable upbringing, it has been eye-opening to see and hear the difficulties some children and young people face, sometimes from before they are even born. It is truly inspiring to see how resilient and strong these young people and children are despite the difficulties they may face.
“It can be so rewarding to know you are actively making an effort to try and improve circumstances in a young person’s life, and how these efforts follow through and you are able to see a real improvement in a child’s circumstances because of measures put in place by the Panel.”
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