29 August 2023

Child victims to get support through justice system at first Bairns Hoose

29 August 2023

Child victims of violence and abuse will be given support at Scotland’s first “Bairns Hoose” which could save them going to courts and police stations to give evidence.

They will be able to get all the protection, care, justice, and recovery support they need under one roof at the facility, which opened in the west of Scotland on Tuesday.

It is hoped the initiative will help prevent children from being retraumatised by their experience of the criminal justice system.

The Children 1st Bairns Hoose has been designed in a trauma-sensitive way to feel safe and welcoming so that children feel at ease as they give evidence, receive medical care, take part in child protection processes and get support to recover from their experiences.

It will transform the way that children experience the child protection and justice process

It is based on an internationally renowned approach first developed in Iceland, called Barnahus.

Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “It feels like an incredible achievement to be opening Scotland’s first Bairns Hoose today.

“It will transform the way that children experience the child protection and justice process, from one that can cause them more trauma and harm to one that will offer them hope, healing and recovery.”

Social work, police, justice, and health professionals from four local authorities in the North Strathclyde area will support up to 280 local children and young people aged up to 18 a year through the Bairns Hoose, alongside the Children 1st Bairns Hoose team.

The building has an interview room where police interviews can be carried out, and a court room with a video link to court.

Children who have experience of current child protection systems say the Bairns Hoose will be “life-changing”.

Jasmin, now aged 18 and using a pseudonym, said: “When I went to court, I had to sit in an empty box room with no windows, no sweets or anything and a few broken toys.

“I was nine years old. If you’re coming from dealing with something terrible you don’t want to come to somewhere broken when you already feel broken.

“It’s good to know kids can come to the Bairns Hoose and it’s a safe place.”

The Bairns Hoose project is led by the charity Children 1st alongside Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, and Children England – with £1.5 million of funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

It is designed to feel like a family home and its exact location is not being disclosed to protect the safety and privacy of the children it is supporting.

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “Victim Support Scotland is proud to have been involved in this ground-breaking project which will demonstrate a gold-standard of support and care for children who have been harmed, all under one roof.

“Navigating Scotland’s justice system is confusing, often retraumatising and complex.

“Victim Support Scotland is committed to working with partners so that children and young people can access services which will help them to get the support they need to recover and thrive in a trauma-informed environment that meets their needs.”

As the first of its kind, the Children 1st Bairns Hoose will test new ways of protecting children and providing the support they need to recover from trauma caused by abuse and harm.

Children 1st are also working with national partners the University of Edinburgh, Victim Support Scotland and Children England, so that their learning can become a catalyst for rolling out Bairns Hoose for every affected child in Scotland and beyond.

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