Comhairle nan Eilean Siar would like to thank the dedicated volunteers who sit on the Children’s Panel for the Western Isles. The children’s hearings system is unique to Scotland.  It relies on volunteers who give their time to undertake extensive, rigorous training and then sit on hearings as panel members.

These volunteers have shown great dedication and during lockdown they have adapted to ensure this vital system does not suffer as a result of the current situation.

Children’s Panel Member Tim Langley said: “Panel members are used to, and trained for, face-to-face hearings where it is easier to communicate with children and parents, which helps panel members make better-informed decisions.  It was a great wrench to then have to conduct hearings by Vscene, but Children’s Hearings Scotland provided comprehensive guidance, and the close-knit group of local panel members rose well to the challenge, although not all had the technology available.

 "These are emergency measures, and no one is suggesting that they are an ideal substitute for face-to-face hearings, but they enable us to continue to make vital, urgent decisions to keep children safe and to protect their wellbeing. We do it because we all feel that we are making a positive difference to children’s lives.”

The longest serving member of the Children’s Panel is Lorna Macaulay who has been a member for 22 years. She said: “It is vital that Children’s Hearings continue all year round and we all knew we had to find a way to adapt to the current situation.  The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland have done an excellent job in quickly setting up a system through Vscene which has allowed us to carry out hearings safely. They really do deserve credit as we have been able to carry out hearings with panel members across the Western Isles with no problems.

"I have found the change really comfortable and although it is very different to how we would usually work it certainly hasn’t led to any disadvantage and is working effectively. I think in some ways it is better for the families as they are in the comfort of their own home during the hearing. “

*****

Comhairle thanks Island volunteers

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar would like to thank volunteers across the Western Isles for all the vital work they do in our Communities. To mark Volunteer Week from the 1st to the 7th of June the Comhairle has been sharing some of the brilliant work being done by island volunteers on Social Media.

These Social Media posts have been met with great support and gratitude from the wider community for the work being done by island volunteers. The Comhairle has not been able to feature everyone and recognises that the social media coverage only highlights a small number of the brilliant volunteer projects currently on going in the Western Isles.

The Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Norman A. Macdonald, said: “We are incredibly fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who work all year round to provide support to people in our communities. Their work has never been so important and during Lockdown they have stepped up once again. The fact that so many people have been willing to volunteer during our fight against this virus, is a clear indication of the strong sense of identity and togetherness that is present in Western isles Communities.

"We also recognise that there are many other volunteers who are in vulnerable or shielding groups at the moment who would love to help but can’t. We thank them too for their efforts throughout the year.”

Morag Duncan is a Spiritual Care volunteer at the Western Isles Hospital

NHS Western Isles would like to express sincere and widespread thanks to all our team of volunteers. We wouldn’t be who we are as an organisation without the support of our excellent volunteers.

NHS Western Isles is proud to celebrate our wonderful volunteers on Volunteers Week (1 – 7 June) and we would like to thank each and every one of them for the support they have provided over the years #VolunteersWeekScot

Volunteers’ Week takes place from 1 – 7 June every year. It’s a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

NHS Western Isles has 70 volunteers serving across the organisation, an increase of around 50 per cent in just two years.

Our volunteers are based in a variety of settings across our primary and secondary care services. Some examples of volunteers include: a group of Paths To Health Walk Leaders that are now in place in all of the rural districts; experienced and keen gardeners who have come forward to volunteer in the Hospital Garden, in partnership with the Stornoway Rotary Club; and our outstanding League of Friends volunteers who present a friendly and welcoming face at the Western Isles Hospital Teabar.

We also have volunteers who support our patients within their own homes, for example, a group of Breastfeeding Network Peer Supporters who were trained in the autumn last year in conjunction with the Health Visitors and Breastfeeding Network UK. This excellent service has continued, using remote access, during this period of lockdown.

We would also pay thanks to the sterling work that our lay representatives fulfil on key committees. The gathered professional wisdom and skills deployed in their former careers is crucial to the success of our committees.

NHS Western Isles Vice Chair Gill McCannon said: “We at NHS Western Isles are grateful for the dedication and hard work of all of our volunteers. Volunteering is about working side by side with others, connecting with your community and making a difference, which you certainly do.”

Spiritual Care volunteers are skilled and trained in listening and responding to the needs of patients in acute care in NHS hospitals across Scotland. They offer support to people of all faiths and those of no faith.

Morag Duncan, a native of Benbecula, has been living in Stornoway for 28 years and is a Spiritual Care volunteer at the Western Isles Hospital.

Morag explains: “I love being around people and I’m involved with many organisations in a volunteering capacity.”

Morag has been engaged in volunteering activities, in all types of settings, since she was a young woman. She has been a befriender for most of her adult life and said that the feeling of being able to help someone is unlike any other.

Morag volunteers in a specific and very important role within the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, and has been part of the volunteering team for five years. She supports patients every Sunday to attend the hospital chapel Sunday service.

Morag liaises with Helen Gallacher, the Hospital Chaplain, to find out which patients within the hospital would like to attend the chapel service each Sunday. She also organises any wheelchairs that may be needed to transport the patients from each ward to the chapel.

The strong relationship she has with staff is very important to meeting patients’ needs.  She explains: “The needs of the patients vary from requiring medical equipment to go with them to the service, down to needing blankets to retain a comfortable temperature or needing glasses to read the service hymns.”

It takes a fair bit of coordinating but the benefits for the patients are very visible for all involved in their care.

Morag says: “Many inpatients I engage with have been unable to share public worship with other people for a long period of time, sometimes years, due to loneliness and isolation. The joy it brings them to be a part of this worship is very heartening.”

With regard to the staff-volunteer relationship within the hospital, she says that the volunteer team at the hospital is fantastic. She explains that the staff give great encouragement to every volunteer, and that the clinical staff very much appreciate and support the added value the volunteers bring to the hospital as a whole.

Finally, reflecting on what impact her volunteering has had on her personally, Morag says: “Helping others has always been part of my life and I often feel I can intuitively see the need in others. I often feel like I make people’s days a little better and that I actually get more from it than the patients do.”