Keeping The Promise – Autumn round up of improvement and reform activity

Posted on 24th Oct 2023
A young boy makes a love heart with his hands

We are more than half way through The Promise Scotland’s Plan 2021/24 and SCRA’s journey of improvement is well underway. Our autumn update provides a round up of our latest improvement news…

Taking Control of My Hearing Project in Fife
We are excited to announce a new Keeping the Promise Project in Fife called Taking Control of My Hearing. The project aims to increase meaningful participation of children and young people in their Hearings by ensuring that they are better prepared. The project, which will initially start small, is aimed at children aged six years and above coming to their first grounds Hearing. The project has been co-designed with young experts from Our Hearings, Our Voice and has two strands to it:

  1. Pre-Hearing visits to the Hearing centre have been redesigned and re-imagined to improve the experience for children and young people. This will include more in-depth Pre-Hearing planning.
  2. A Taking Control of My Hearing Scrapbook, designed by young people from Our Hearings, Our Voice in response to what young people have told us they need. The scrapbook will be sent out to children and young people to support them to prepare for their Hearing and empower them to take control of their Hearing.

The Project Team are excited to be in the final planning stages of the project and are aiming to launch the project at the start of November 2023. We look forward to sharing with you very soon the impact this has for the children and young people coming to Hearings.

Promoting Solicitor Good Practice in Hearings
We are proud to be leading a multi-agency project aimed at promoting solicitor good practice in Hearings. We are working with our partners from Children’s Hearings Scotland, Clan Childlaw, Civil Legal Assistance Office, Children 1st and colleagues from advocacy organisations, together with young experts from Our Hearings, Our Voice.

Children, young people and their families must have the right to high quality legal advice and representation. Upholding the rights of children in Hearings requires a unique skill set, so we will work with young people, solicitors and other key partners to develop a Good Practice Guide which will be made available to all solicitors in the Hearings System. We will  engage with young people about what skills and qualities they want Children’s Hearing solicitors to have, then work with solicitors to turn the good practice guide into a tool to support solicitors to develop these skills. We are also as a group considering what we can do to ensure children and young people know about their rights to a solicitor at Children’s Hearings.

One of our partners in the project, Clan Childlaw recently designed and published an animation, Alright? The animation calls attention to the challenges young people face when seeking legal representation. The powerful animation reflects on what it is like to be in their shoes. It shares young people’s experiences of legal representation and articulates what they want from their solicitors. It contains an important message about the need for solicitors who care about the young people they support. Young people want solicitors who are able to communicate and connect with them, and are highly skilled at upholding their rights.

Language That Cares
Our Language that Cares Project, a multi-agency project, let by SCRA’s Keeping the Promise Operational Lead, Collette Gallagher aims to change the language used in and around the Children’s Hearings System to prevent misunderstanding, distress or re-traumatising children and young people. Unintentional use of professionalised language compounds a sense of children feeling different and children themselves told the care review that it can feel belittling and have an impact on their sense of self. Words to describe their lives, like ‘unit’, ‘placement’, ‘contact’ and ‘respite’, are not the same as those used by their non-care-experienced peers.

At the heart of the work are a group known as ‘Language Leaders’ made up of Hearings-experienced young people and professionals from the Hearings System. The Language Leaders launched their Language Principles in September 2023 at SCRAs Staff Event and further promotional activities are planned.

A number of language awareness roadshows have taken place and awareness sessions delivered to SCRA staff. Next steps are to build on the progress that has been made with further training and to develop a language guide for SCRA. The language guide will, we hope, prove to be a key turning point in terms of language and will also be used to support improvements to our communications with children, young people and their families.

SCRA is continuing to work with our partners in the Children’s Hearings System and Scottish Government in relation to the Hearings for Children report. The Scottish Government is expected to give their response to the report by December 2023. In the meantime, we are working internally and with our partners to prioritise and sequence the recommendations in the report and to identify which ones can be worked on now without the need for legislative change. Work is also going into setting up with Programme Management Framework that will oversee delivery of Hearings for Children. Watch this space for more information.

If you have any questions or comments about our work to Keep The Promise, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

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