A new house to support children who have been victims or witnesses of crime is to open in Scotland with the help of £1.5m lottery funding.
Inspired by the Barnahus model, first developed in Iceland, the Child’s House for Healing will be a safe and welcoming place for youngsters to go to as an alternative to courts, social work offices and police stations.
Children will be able to give evidence, receive medical care and support to recover from trauma and be involved in decisions about their protection in the building, which is designed to feel like a family home.
Project partners Children 1st, Victim Support Scotland, Children England and the University of Edinburgh have joined forces to create the house, supported by £1.5m raised by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Work is under way to identify a suitable location in the west of Scotland.
‘The centre will transform our systems of justice, health, care and protection so that every child victim and witness is kept safe from further harm, gets justice and is supported to heal.’Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st
Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “We are delighted and incredibly excited to receive this funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which will help end the nightmares of thousands of children who are victims of abuse and crime.
“Players have made our dream – to create Britain’s first Child’s House for Healing – come true.
“By creating and testing a new approach, the centre will transform our systems of justice, health, care and protection so that every child victim and witness is kept safe from further harm, gets justice and is supported to heal.”
She added: “We and our partners want to offer our heartfelt thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
“With their help, we will offer children and their families the support they need to recover, repair and move on with their lives.”
The project partners said that every year, 12,600 children in Scotland require special support to give evidence in court.
It is hoped the House for Healing will become the catalyst for similar projects elsewhere in the UK so more children are better supported when giving evidence and are able to recover from their experiences.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It is at times like now that we see the true value of organisations working together to support those who need it most, at their time of need.
“We continue to work hard to provide trauma-informed support to children and young people who are the victims of serious and traumatic crime – but there is always more which can be done.
“The Scottish Government supports the concept of a Barnahus for Scotland and is committed to bringing forward Scottish Barnahus Standards to support a trauma-informed, co-ordinated and effective response for child victims and witnesses of violence and abuse by placing the child or young person’s rights, well-being and best interests at the centre.
“I look forward to visiting the House for Healing and commend Children 1st for all their hard work and continued support of the work to achieve a child’s house model which will work for Scotland.”