It is six weeks since face to face Children’s Hearings started to resume across Scotland – and lots of activity has been going on in the background to make this happen. It has been a gradual process – we are opening centres on a phased basis and only when it is safe to do so.
We have been working hard over the years to make our Hearings rooms feel more homely, friendly and less formal – but all of these things need to be re-visited to make the rooms safe at the moment. We need to make sure rooms are big enough to allow everyone to be 2 metres apart, we need to cut down on soft furnishings, take away toys and books – anything that could allow the spread of germs.
Not all of our Hearing centres have reopened yet. In some areas, we are having to use alternative buildings where our Hearing rooms just aren’t big enough to allow people to be two metres apart. In some places we are still trying to identify a suitable, alternative venue and we are working really hard with our local partners to make this happen.
Some of our Hearing centres are undergoing a revamp, with walls being knocked down in two of our centres (Dumbarton and Paisley) to ensure there is enough space in the Hearing room for everyone to attend and participate safely.
In the areas that have opened, we have used all of the space available – staff areas, meeting rooms etc to allow full social distancing, we have plenty of hand sanitiser, masks for anyone who wants them and lots of signage to keep everyone safe.
We have been working with young people from Our Hearings, Our Voice and have had feedback from a number of other groups of young people about what they would need to see in place to make them and their families feel comfortable coming back into our centres and this has been key to our work.
Alongside face to face Hearings, virtual Hearings are still taking place. We are also holding blended Hearings. This is where some people are in the Hearing room and some people are taking part from another room in the building and participating via video link.
If are due to attend a face to face Hearing or a virtual Hearing and have any questions beforehand, you can contact your Reporter. Local contact details are available here.