Launch of Bairns’ Hoose Highland

Launch of Bairns' Hoose in Highland
Caption: (Left to right) Maree Todd MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport; Donna Munro, Lead Officer Child Protection Committee at Highland Council; Mhairi Grant, Independent Chair of the Highland Child Protection Committee, Detective Chief Inspector Calum Smith, Public Protection Unit, Highlands and Islands Division of Police Scotland; Derek Brown, Chief Executive of The Highland Council.

Scottish Government Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Maree Todd visited Inverness last week (Friday 24 May 2024) to launch the Bairns’ Hoose programme for Highland.

The Minister addressed around 70 members of staff, managers and leaders from across the Highland partnership at the Highland Council Chambers before heading to a private visit at the Inverness Bairns’ Hoose to meet staff involved in the Scottish Child Interview Model and Bairns’ Hoose locally.

The Minister said: “It is the Scottish Government’s ultimate ambition that every child and young person who have witnessed or experienced harm, can access Bairns’ Hoose services to support their wellbeing.

“Implementing the Scottish Child Interview Model is a key step towards delivering a child-centred approach to justice, care and recovery for children and young people who have experienced trauma.”

She added: “I am pleased that the programme has now been launched in Highland, bringing us towards our aim of Bairns’ Hoose happening wherever the child is."

Bairns’ Hoose is a Scottish Government initiative based on the Icelandic ‘Barnahaus’ model – the child’s house.

It’s about connecting services around the needs of the child by bringing together child protection, health, justice, and recovery services in one setting.

Highland Council’s Executive Chief Officer Health and Social Care & Chief Social Work Officer, Fiona Duncan, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to launch Bairns Hoose within the Highlands. It is important to reduce the number of times children are asked to retell their stories as this can be difficult and retraumatising. Instead, trauma-informed practice is prioritised to support the child’s recovery in a safe, respectful, friendly, and welcoming environment.

“Implementation of the Bairns’ Hoose standards which will be overseen by Highland Child Protection Committee and the Public Protection Chief Officer Group, ensuring services and communities are involved in developing and supporting approaches to improve outcomes for children and families.”

Divisional Commander Highlands and Islands, Chief Superintendent Rob Shepherd, Police Scotland said: “The Chief Officer Group fully supports the launch of Bairns’ Hoose in Highland. It is the beginning of our journey rather than the completion of a project. This is the start of a conversation across our Partnership about how we implement the standards, recognising the challenges of our geography and how we make best use of resources collectively.”

With funding from the Scottish Government, Highland’s first step in rolling out the standards has included developing premises in Caithness and Inverness, creating safe spaces to support children and young people involved in interviews using the Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM) - a trauma informed approach to gathering evidence from children and young people who have witnessed or experienced harm.

Independent Chair of the Highland Child Protection Committee, Mhairi Grant, said: “Bairns’ Hoose standards will need to be considered locally, acknowledging the uniqueness of Highland areas and what communities need.

“Having safe and welcoming spaces is one of the key standards and we welcome the new spaces. It is important we celebrate and highlight the achievements of each community as the standards develop locally.”

Highland is currently piloting the Model with six forensic interviewers trained across Police Scotland and Highland Council’s Social Work Service. SCIM will continue to be reviewed and developed across Highland as findings from the pilot emerge.

A local launch of Bairns’ Hoose in Caithness took place on Thursday 23 May in Wick Town House followed by the Highland-wide launch on Friday 24 May in Inverness.

29 May 2024