Children’s panel volunteers praised

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It was the end of an era for Dumfries and Galloway’s Children’s Panel Advisory Committee (CPAC) last week following implementation of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act.

This removed from local authorities all duties and responsibilities for supporting the administration of the children’s hearings system.

At a reception for CPAC members, Alex Haswell, Director of the Chief Executive Service for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “Our children’s hearings system in Dumfries and Galloway has relied on the skills and commitment of the members of our Children’s Panel.

“Our dedicated volunteers, drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, have freely given their time to attend hearings and undergo vital training. Their experience, knowledge and common sense have made a real difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable children.

“I fully appreciate the amount of dedication and professionalism required for them to perform to an excellent standard. I’d like to thank them all very much.”

Mr Haswell paid tribute to two people in particular. Geraldine Simpson became a panel member in 1984, was appointed area tutor in 1989, joined the CPAC in 2001, and became chairman of the training sub-committee in 2003. Phil Hughes was appointed to the CPAC in 2001, becoming chairman in 2006.

Mr Haswell said: “Phil and Geraldine have striven to ensure that we have always worked in the best interests of children. They have been passionate advocates for vulnerable at-risk children. They have demonstrated commitment, energy and integrity. They have made an outstanding contribution to the children’s hearings system.

“It is through work such as theirs that Dumfries and Galloway Children’s Panel Advisory Group earned a reputation as a powerhouse of support for volunteer panel members.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Children’s Panel can phone 01387 260 033 to find out more and register an interest.