Language leaders – leading the way

Posted on 30th Nov 2023
A happy young girl holding a paper heart in her hands

The Language Leaders are leading the way in making language in the Hearings System more accessible, personal and caring.

The group – which is made up of young people with lived experience and adults with lived and professional experience across the Hearings System – is making great progress and SCRA is proud to be part of the group.

The aim is to make sure that all children and young people who attend Hearings are supported to understand and be included, by transforming the use of written and spoken language.

The Language Leaders also aim to avoid additional distress and traumatisation for children and young people.

The group which is backed by the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership (CHIP), recently launched their new principles at SCRA’s Staff Event.

The principles are:

  • Words will be personalised to meet the individual needs of the child, including taking account of the child’s own wishes and use of language
  • All language used will be clear, easy to understand and will support children to be involved in decision making
  • Reports, letters and discussions will reflect the strengths and positives in children’s lives, ensuring they are balanced against any challenges and risks
  • Only language which is non-stigmatising and protects children from blame or distress will be used

Collette Gallagher represents SCRA on the Language Leaders, she said: “Language is a powerful tool for communication but sometimes the way that it is used in and around hearings can exacerbate and perpetuate stigma and create barriers for understanding.

“At SCRA we are individually and collectively committed to changing this. I feel confident that we will be able to do this with the support of the Language Leaders. I am looking forward to continuing our journey of change with them.”

Although the principles have been launched, there’s still work to be done!

Language Leaders are continuing to work with organisations and those responsible for reform across children’s care and the Children’s Hearings System, to explore how they use language in every part of their work. This will include how they write to children, what language (including legal terms) are used in meetings and Hearings, and so much more.

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