Hearing and Helping

by Mairi McManus, Managing Director


Mairi McManus, Managing Director

I chose to volunteer as a panel member for Children’s Hearing Scotland. Why? Well my initial interest was sparked by a good friend who volunteered a couple of years ago and he frankly kept banging on about what a valuable thing it was to do and talked very eloquently about what Scotland’s children deserve.

As the Managing Director of a successful online book retailer then perhaps I could say that I’m just a little bit too busy for the whole volunteer thing nice idea though it is 🙂 On the other hand I work for a company who pride ourselves on our social conscience (which is one of the many reasons I’m very proud to work here). Also I’m the eldest of four children. When I look around at my brother and sisters who each have two children (making up six wonderful nieces and nephews) I’m very much struck by how lucky those children are to be unconditionally loved by their entire extended family. Unfortunately not all children in Scotland are so lucky.

So what does a children’s panel member do? Well simplistically what happens is three of us sit at every children’s hearing, these may be called for issues ranging from non attendance at school to severe neglect or abuse of a child. Prior to every hearing we receive all the relevant paperwork (on some occasions this doesn’t all actually fit through my letter box!) and have a responsibility to be fully prepared for each hearing and to collectively make a decision about the future of that child…… I can’t lie, sometimes these hearings are hard going. It’s always very difficult to hear of a child being mistreated in any way, however very often the parents may also have experienced or are experiencing very difficult times and therefore it’s important not to judge. I guess that takes me onto why I do it and what value I personally get from each experience.

I genuinely believe that in a leadership role one of the most important things you need to do is listen first before forming judgements and taking action. The second is the old cliche of not judging a book by it’s cover (very apt I know!). Working with the Children’s Panel absolutely helps to reinforce both of those concepts every single time I prepare and attend for hearing. I consider myself really lucky to work for an organisation that values this type of activity. Without companies like ours then volunteers would be very restricted and I believe that it’s really important that the Children’s Hearing System in Scotland has variety of volunteers from all backgrounds and stages of life.

If you would like to find out more please visit http://www.chscotland.gov.uk/