Children 1st has urged the Scottish Government to deliver a world-leading model of support for victims and witnesses following a meeting with the Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise, Natalie Don MSP at Scotland’s first Bairn’s Hoose on Friday.

During the minister’s visit, she was taken on a tour of the Children 1st Bairns Hoose in North Strathclyde, which the charity opened in 2023 in partnership with Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and Children England.

Based on the international Barnahus model, first developed in Iceland, the Bairns Hoose is a place where child victims and witnesses of violence can get all the protection, care, justice, and recovery support they need under one roof.

The Bairns Hoose draws on a strong and committed partnership across police, justice, health, social work and the third sector leaders to deliver this transformation

The charity’s Bairns Hoose recovery workers have supported 263 children to date.

The Scottish Government has committed to rolling out the Bairns Hoose model and is funding Pathfinders across six local areas which will provide coordinated comprehensive support for children and young people in the justice system.

Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive of Children 1st said: “We are delighted to explore the opportunity for Scotland to deliver a world-leading model of support for child victims and witnesses through Bairns Hoose with the minister.

“The development of the Scotland’s first Bairns Hoose has been informed by the voices of thousands of children that Children 1st has supported over many years to recover from the impact of abuse and from the extra trauma that the justice system creates.

“As the Scottish Government rolls out this approach it must remain true to the guiding principles of Bairns Hoose. More investment and transformational change is necessary and Bairns Hoose cannot simply be delivered through minor adaptations to the current system. We know this is only a first step in a long journey, and we are committed to making sure this goes all the way.”

Natalie Don, minister for Children, Young People and the Promise said: “The Wee Hoose is a significant milestone and the culmination of many years of hard work from Children 1st and a range of partners. It is important that children in North Strathclyde who are the victims or witnesses of abuse or violence will, through this service, be able to access protection, care, and recovery services under one roof.

“I look forward to seeing how we can expand on the excellent work already being done in North Strathclyde as we test out the Bairns’ Hoose Standards in different areas and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with North Strathclyde to support the Wee Hoose.

“I am committed to ensuring that Bairns’ Hoose happens wherever the child is, taking the services to the child finding creative solutions to deliver the best support for children and young people.”

Bairns Hoose has already drawn international recognition with specific reference made in the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, published last year.

Bragi Guðbrandsson, founder of the Barnahus model and Vice Chair of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child said: “Bairns Hoose in Scotland will be a role model for others, both in countries that have yet to set up Barnahus as well as where Barnahus is already in operation.”

Natalie Don, who is the Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise is also the MSP for Renfrewshire North and West.

Photo: Natalie Don MSP and Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st pictured at the Bairns Hoose
Photo Credit: Children 1st

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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