29 August 2023

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  • The Children 1st Bairns Hoose brings together child protection, health, justice, and therapeutic support in a child-friendly, single-location alternative to courts, social work offices and police stations.

  • The Bairns Hoose is led by charity, Children 1st alongside Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, and Children England – with £1.5m funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

  • Up to 280 children, young people and members will receive support from the Bairns Hoose each year.

  • Children who have experience of current child protection systems say the Bairns Hoose will be “life-changing”.

For the first time, children and young people who experience abuse and violence will be able to get all the protection, care, justice, and recovery support they need under one roof, as the Children 1st Bairns Hoose opens in the west of Scotland.

Led by Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, and funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Children 1st Bairns Hoose offers children immediate, joined up support from the moment they disclose they have been harmed. It has been developed in partnership with Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, Children England, and local partners from statutory agencies in North Strathclyde.

The Bairns Hoose received £1.5 million from the Postcode Dream Fund, which was raised entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The Hoose has been designed in a trauma-sensitive way to feel safe and welcoming so that children feel at ease as they give evidence, receive medical care, take part in child protection processes and get support to recover from their experiences. It is based on an internationally renowned approach first developed in Iceland, called Barnahus.

Members of the child’s family will also get support to understand what has happened to their child and how best to help them through it.

Up to 280 children, young people and members of their family from across the North Strathclyde area will come through the Children 1st Bairns Hoose each year as part of an initial child protection and concern investigation process.

As the first of its kind, the Children 1st Bairns Hoose will test new ways of protecting children and providing the crucial support they need to recover from trauma caused by abuse and harm.

Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive of Children 1st said:

“It feels like an incredible achievement to be opening Scotland’s first Bairns Hoose today. It will transform the way that children experience the child protection and justice process, from one that can cause them more trauma and harm to one that will offer them hope, healing and recovery.

“The Children 1st Bairns Hoose will be life-changing for many children and young people, thanks to the phenomenal support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. A huge thank you to them, and to all our local, national and international partners whose vision and commitment have transformed the way that children and young people in North Strathclyde are able to get support, when the worst things imaginable happen to them.

“Most importantly, thank you to the children and young people who have so bravely spoken up, over so many years, about how harmful our current systems of protection, care and justice can be. Their voices and views have shaped every part of the development of the Children 1st Bairns Hoose. We will continue to make sure children’s rights and needs are at the centre, as we work for every child in Scotland to have access to a Bairns Hoose.”

Clara Govier, the Managing Director of People’s Postcode Lottery said: “The Bairns Hoose will make a vital difference to the lives of children who have been the victims and witnesses of crime. We are proud that funds raised by our players have helped to create a unique place where young people can feel safe, supported, and which we hope will enable them to look ahead to a brighter future.”

Jasmin now aged 18 said: ““When I went to court, I had to sit in an empty box room with no windows, no sweets or anything and a few broken toys. I was 9 years old. If you’re coming from dealing with something terrible you don’t want to come to somewhere broken when you already feel broken. It’s good to know kids can come to the Bairns Hoose and it’s a safe place.”

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive, Victim Support Scotland: “Victim Support Scotland is proud to have been involved in this ground-breaking project which will demonstrate a gold-standard of support and care for children who have been harmed, all under one roof.

“Navigating Scotland’s justice system is confusing, often retraumatising and complex. Victim Support Scotland is committed to working with partners so that children and young people can access services which will help them to get the support they need to recover and thrive in a trauma-informed environment that meets their needs.

“Victim Support Scotland is extremely grateful to all the partner involved in Bairns Hoose and thank Children 1st in particular who have led on this project and worked tirelessly to ensure the vision was brought to life.”

Social work, police, justice, and health professionals from four local authorities in the North Strathclyde area will support local children and young people through the Bairns Hoose alongside the Children 1st Bairns Hoose team.


Kate Rocks, Chief Officer of Health and Social Care at Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership said: “The Bairns Hoose will transform the experience of children who need care and protection in North Strathclyde. From the beginning this project has been all about strong partnerships between charities and agencies, coming together with the single ambition to make sure that children’s needs and best interests are at the centre of all decisions made about their safety.”

While these local partnerships will be key to supporting the children and young people who come to the Bairns Hoose, Children 1st are also working with national partners the University of Edinburgh, Victim Support Scotland and Children England, so that their learning can become a catalyst for rolling out Bairns Hoose for every child in Scotland and beyond.

Professor John Devaney, Dean of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The School of Social and Political Science is delighted to have been a partner on this exciting and important initiative. Alongside ensuring that children and families receive responsive and high-quality support at a time of crisis, we are pleased to be adding to the growing international evidence base about how professionals and services can respond effectively to various types of child abuse and neglect.”

Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Chair of Children England said: “Bairns Hoose puts two things we are very passionate about at Children England into practice: children's rights and child-led systems change. This is the beginning of a quiet-but-vital revolution in the ways that children are treated by all the people and systems they need, beginning right in their moment of crisis. Many professionals, charities and public services across the UK are looking with interest to Scotland and the Bairns Hoose developments. It is an evolving model we really need to learn from and spread beyond Scotland's borders."