Secondment to Guernsey

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Following the successful secondment of a Childrens Reporter from the Scottish Childrens Reporter Administration last year, we have continued to develop our strong links with Scotland and will be offering another secondment opportunity this summer.   

Liz Ann Miller took up the role last year, bringing her knowledge and skills to the Bailiwick to support the team. She reflects on her experiences of the island ahead of this years appointment.

When the opportunity came up for a secondment to the Office of the Childrens Convenor in Guernsey, I jumped at the chance. I am a Childrens Reporter in Scotland, which is very similar to the role of the Convenor in Guernsey, so I receive referrals for children and young people who are believed to require compulsory measures of supervision and draft a statement of grounds and decide whether the child or young person needs to be referred to a Hearing, among various other things.  

I have been part of the SCRA since 2009, where I initially started as maternity cover in an admin/support role I then became an Assistant Reporter before completing the two-year trainee reporter course, and I have been in my current role since 2015. I am driven by doing something that feels worthwhile and matters and, while there is a lot of pressure in my day-to-day, the combination of no day being the same, the constant learning and meeting fascinating people all drives me in my role.

The summer secondment to the Bailiwick offered a lot of positive opportunities for me. Having been a reporter for more than eight years, I have dealt with a lot of complex cases and have developed lots of excellent working relationships. However, I am always keen to progress and what really fascinated me is that, while Guernseys legislation is based on ours in Scotland, a recent independent care review into our system identified parts of Guernseys system which work extremely well and which we will be implementing in Scotland as part of The Promise.  I thought this would be an opportunity to get a real understanding of how it works in Guernsey, and a head start on the changes to come for my role. 

I would also be lying if I said that the opportunity to spend the summer on a beautiful island, five minutes away from the beach, wasnt a big draw!  

Whilst in Guernsey I really got to see how the system works from start to end. I got to attend Tribunal Hearings and annual reviews, as well as support with interim orders. While I was initially shadowing the Convenor/Assistant Convenors, I then began taking these on my own and, as the summer continued, I was also able to look at the existing training for local agencies, support organisations and those who may attend Tribunal Hearings and offer my thoughts, tailoring some training I had delivered to partner agencies in Scotland to Guernsey.  

During my time in the Bailiwick I found that, while there arent many differences between our two systems, those that do exist are significant. I was presented with very contrasting cases to what I am used to dealing with and I found the challenges that young people face are very different. It made me really think about why we do what we do, specifically why its important to not just focus on the situation at hand, but to step back and look at why a young person might be behaving in a certain way, and what we can do to increase the help and support available to them. 

I had such a wonderful summer, despite some mishaps which I wont go into here! I cannot believe how lovely everyone was and how welcome I was made to feel. I was genuinely blown away at the support available to me and how nothing was ever too much bother, and Ive made some real friends for life. I also cant get over just how beautiful it was, although I have to say the French names and pronunciations took some getting used to. There was a particular incident in the bakersthats all I can say!    

I still keep in touch with the team, whom I miss, and Ive had some Guernsey visitors already, and hopefully there will be many more. Im definitely going to try and come down during the summer.  

I would say my takeaway for the Bailiwick is to make sure that young people are as visible to services as they can be, and that these services have a real knowledge of the support available in order to focus on what matters for that individual child and their needs.