A revolutionary new approach to supporting children who are victims and witnesses of crime is to be opened in the west of Scotland.
The UK’s first “Child’s House for Healing” will be based on the internationally-renowned Barnahus, translated as Child’s House, approach first developed in Iceland.
The house will help children recover from impact of crime and also support them to be able to provide evidence in any trials.
The project has been awarded £1.5 million from money raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It will be delivered by Children 1st, Victim Support Scotland, Children England and the University of Edinburgh.
Now widely used across Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, the Barnahus is a child-friendly, safe and welcoming place for children to go to, as an alternative to the courts, social work offices and police stations that Scotland’s child witnesses currently have to navigate.
Scotland’s social work, justice and health professionals have been exploring a number of joint approaches to reduce the trauma experienced by child victims and witnesses in recent years, including piloting to improve Joint Investigative Interviews and recording children’s evidence in advance of court sittings.
Every year, 12,600 children in Scotland require special measures to give evidence in court. By sharing the learning from the House for Healing, it is hoped it will become the catalyst for similar projects elsewhere in the UK.
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive of Children 1st, said:
By creating and testing a new approach, the centre will transform our systems of justice, health, care and protection so that every child victim and witness is kept safe from further harm, gets justice and is supported to heal.
We and our partners want to offer our heartfelt thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. With their help, we will offer children and their families the support they need to recover, repair and move on with their lives.
Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, said:
Many people would be shocked to see the heart-breaking harm that court processes and procedures can do to children who have already undergone terrible experiences.
Sadly, in our work we see it every day.
Kate Rocks, Chief Social Worker, East Renfrewshire, said:
This project will make an enormous difference to the way our most vulnerable children are supported and will reduce the delays and trauma they currently suffer.
Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government, Cabinet Secretary for Justice said:
The Scottish Government supports the concept of a Barnahus for Scotland and is committed to bringing forward Scottish Barnahus Standards to support a trauma-informed, co-ordinated and effective response for child victims and witnesses of violence and abuse by placing the child or young person’s rights, wellbeing and best interests at the centre.
Image: Children 1st
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