Monklands volunteers are wanted to join the children’s panel in North Lanarkshire.

Residents from the area who are “good listeners and good at making important decisions” are being asked to consider taking on the volunteer role, making legal decisions to help and support young people.

New panel members from all backgrounds are wanted, with Children’s Hearings Scotland looking for 700 new members across the country in their biggest-ever recruitment campaign.

Mark Hamill, the committee officer for the North Lanarkshire panel, said: “Helping young people enjoy a brighter future is the key objective of the children’s panel.

“Its members help ensure the correct decisions are made, no matter how big or small, that will help care and protect children and families who desperately need it.

“The decisions can have a lasting effect on a young person’s life – such as being taken into care, or moved into a loving and stable foster home allowing them to develop in a safe and nurturing environment.”

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He added: “Being a Panel member can be a hugely rewarding experience as you act as a force for good to help young people; and with everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, many need good support to help them achieve their potential.

“We need volunteers who care about young people and our communities, and through their own backgrounds and life experience can connect with young people.”

Volunteer panel members receive full training; and the new campaign aims to attract a diverse group of volunteers who reflect local communities, and who have the desired qualities in panel members.

Children’s Hearings Scotland chief executive Elliot Jackson said: “We asked young people with experience of the hearings system what specific traits they wanted in panel members.

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

He added: “The children’s panel is a really essential service and couldn’t operate without volunteers.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’re lucky to have 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’m really proud of everything they were able to achieve in a really tough year for Scotland.

“If you want to make a difference in your local community, consider applying to volunteer as a panel member; you’d be joining a vibrant community at an important time.”

A total of 1774 children’s hearings involving 597 young people took place in North Lanarkshire during 2019-2020; with 84 per cent of all referrals across Scotland being on care and protection grounds.

More information is available at www.chscotland.gov.uk/volunteering-with-us/panel-members/ and applications close at midnight on February 15.