Vik - South Lanarkshire

Vik, aged 31, has been serving as a Children’s Panel member in South Lanarkshire since December 2012.

Working as a firefighter, Vik has always been someone who enjoys helping people and so took the opportunity to apply for the panel after hearing an advert on the radio last year.

He explains, “The way my working pattern is, I often found that I had a lot of spare time between shifts and always thought volunteering would be a great way to spend the time. It’s important to me that I’m able to give something back so when I heard about the Children’s Panel, it seemed the right fit and I chose to apply.”

To serve on the Children’s Panel, volunteers have to carry out thorough training and extensive preparation in advance of each hearing to enable them to make difficult and emotional decisions about the welfare of the child.

For Vik, being part of such a stringent training process was invaluable in helping prepare him for the role, “I participated in a fast-track training course so it took a lot of dedication and effort to get through it at such a rapid pace but it did make me appreciate the extent of the commitment I was undertaking.

“There was a huge amount to take in but the training itself was very well-designed and I learnt a great deal about the system and what is expected of us as panel members. I also felt incredibly well-supported by everyone involved in the training and getting to build a network with other members based in my area was hugely beneficial. I know now that I could approach that network for help or with any questions which is very reassuring.”

Vik also feels fortunate that his work have lent their support to his decision to join the Children’s Panel.

He continues, “I think firefighters have a similar mindset as panel members in that both jobs are about doing the best for people so my station commander and colleagues are very understanding about my involvement. Whilst working shifts means I generally don’t have any problem juggling panel commitments with professional commitments, it’s encouraging to know that my employer is supportive.”

To become a Children’s Panel member you don’t require any qualifications but it is good to have an ability to listen and to have empathy for children who may need support to make positive changes in their lives.

Vik would encourage others with a desire to help young people in their communities to consider joining, “being a panel member certainly isn’t for everyone – some of the cases can be very difficult to hear but it’s important to remember it’s about trying to make small changes to better someone’s life.

“You need to have a certain strength of character but I think someone who is patient, understanding and is able to listen and be open-minded would be an ideal candidate. If you’re able to commit fully, you’ll get a lot out of it. For me at least, knowing I am part of something which is helping to improve children’s lives is incredibly rewarding.”

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