Our Hearings, Our Voice, Our Magazine
Amy Miskimmin-Logan, Participation Development Worker at Our Hearings Our Voice writes about how she worked with young people when they came up with the idea to produce a magazine for all young people to read and help them understand what’s involved while waiting to go into their Children’s Hearing (sometimes just called a Hearing) - a legal meeting set up because there are concerns about a child’s, young person’s or young adult’s wellbeing, or the care they are receiving.
Right from our very first board meeting in 2018, the young people in ‘Our Hearings, Our Voice’, an independent board for children and young people from across Scotland who have experience of the Children’s Hearings System, has been committed to improving hearings for all children and young people. We’ve worked hard to come up with creative solutions to the issues our young people have identified in the hearing system, which you can read about in our 40 Calls to Action. One of those solutions came in the form of ‘VOICE’; a quarterly magazine for young people to read while waiting to go into their hearing. Our Hearings Our Voice board member Ben** talks about how she and fellow board member Sharpay came up with the idea:
“During a board meeting in June 2022, Sharpay and I worked together with Kirsty and Rachel who are designers from the Scottish Government, to come up with prototypes of the magazine to help improve the experiences all young people and young adults have of the hearing system. The idea came about because we felt like children, young people, and young adults were seeing too much paperwork in their lives but nothing that would help them engage with other young people or take their minds off hearings.”
How the magazine became a reality
Ben and Sharpay created a prototype for a magazine that would be sent out to every hearing centre in Scotland. While presenting the prototype to the rest of the board, Sharpay was clear that it was important that the magazine had a good balance of information for young people, mixed with more light-hearted content:
“VOICE should give young people information about hearings, but it should also be fun to read. We should have articles to give young people advice and let them know they’re not alone in the hearings system, but there should also be things in the magazine like puzzles, mindfulness colouring, and craft ideas to help young people relax and distract them from the stress of their hearing.”
Working together to get it right
Building on this prototype, the other young people on the Our Hearings Our Voice board worked hard to create engaging articles for the magazine, including recipes, poetry, mental health advice, and more. In the lead up to Bonfire Night, board member Remi interviewed a firefighter from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, while Dame Marsha Ducky wrote two powerful poems and an article on living more sustainably. Another board member, Duck Armstrong used her own experiences of hearings to reach out to young people attending a hearing with her top tips and advice, while as editors, Ben and Sharpay made decisions about the design and layout of the magazine. The result was an attractive, high-quality magazine that is written for young people, by young people. 2000 copies of VOICE were sent out to hearings centres around Scotland and the feedback we have received on the magazine has been really positive. One advocacy worker commented:
“I spend a great deal of my time at Hearing Centres and that is where I came across the first issue of the Voice. I thought it was brilliant and covered so many interesting topics and subjects. Sitting in a hearing centre waiting room can be daunting for some young people and to have something like the Voice now available to read and flick through or take home is fantastic!”
Why the magazine matters
Feedback like this is very encouraging. When we contacted hearing centre receptionists, we were even more delighted to hear that children and young people were picking up copies of VOICE and reading them in waiting rooms, or taking them home to read later. This proves that our magazine is achieving what it set out to do.
When asked what VOICE magazine means for the board, Ben replied: “This magazine is important to us as we believe that young people shouldn’t have to sit waiting and being stressed before their hearing. Hearings can often be a stressful time for many young people; they expect bad things to happen. Board Members believe that young people shouldn’t have to feel anxious beforehand. So that’s when VOICE came about. We offer a means of proactively reaching out to young people in a safe, free way. The magazine helps with relaxation and helps young people understand that it’s ok to feel worried. VOICE is an opportunity to engage with other care experienced people – the authors. We share experiences and stories of other young people and young adults who have been in the same situation.”
We are currently working on our second issue of VOICE, which will be published in early Spring of 2023.
**At Our Hearings Our Voice each Board Member uses a duck alias (profile photo and name) to ensure they are protecting their identify in line with Our Hearings Our Voice safeguarding responsibilities and legislation. Each Board Member has chosen a duck and name for themselves and will use these aliases for any blogs, social media posts etc.
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