VOLUNTEER bosses have launched a massive recruitment drive to urge people in Glasgow to sign up to the Children's Panel.

Nearly 4000 children's hearing were held in the city last year, supporting 2640 children and young people.

But the system needs more volunteers to listen and make legal decisions in their best interests.

Children’s Hearings Scotland National Convener and Chief Executive Elliot Jackson said: “The Children’s Panel is a really essential service in Scotland, and couldn’t operate without volunteer Panel Members.

"Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we were lucky to have truly committed volunteers who made sure we could continue to support children and families in need of care and protection.

"They embraced different ways of volunteering, including online hearings, and I am really proud of everything they were able to achieve in what has been a really tough year for Scotland.”

There are a range of reasons that a child or young person may be referred to attend a children’s hearing; in the last year, approximately 84% of all referrals were on care and protection grounds.

Glasgow currently has 412 Panel Members but needs 120 new members to manage around 40 hearings in the city a week.

The campaign aims to attract a diverse group of volunteers, to ensure Panel Members reflect the communities they live in, and who have the right qualities.

Michael, a Panel Member in Glasgow, said: “I attended a children’s hearing when I was young, for non-attendance at primary school.

"The reason I wasn’t going to school was because I was a young carer.

"Going to the Children’s Panel made a huge difference to my life, because I was able to explain my situation, was listened to and then I got support that I needed.

“The reason I decided to volunteer to be a Panel Member was due to my personal experience."

Applications open today and close midnight on February 15, 2021.

To find out more about the role and what’s involved see: www.chscotland.gov.uk

Elliot added: “We asked young people with lived experience of the hearings system what specific traits they wanted to see in their Panel Members.

"They were crystal clear and told us that it doesn’t matter what your background, your profession, or your age is – what matters are the qualities that you can bring to the room, such as compassion and empathy, being a good listener, someone you can trust.

“If you want to make a difference in your local community, I ask you to consider applying to volunteer as a Panel Member.

"You would be joining a vibrant community at an important time.”