National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 17 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Val de Souza, Chair, National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group (Chair)
  • Michael Chalmers, Director for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Anna Donald, Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government
  • Ian Donaldson, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st
  • Sharon Glasgow, Protecting Children Social Work and Policy and Practice Advisor, Social Work Scotland
  • DCC Malcolm Graham, Detective Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Chantelle Lalli, Justice Lead, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government
  • Henry Mathias, NCS Strategic Lead, Care Inspectorate
  • Joanna McDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor, Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services, Crown Office
  • Lesley Swanson, Head of Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government


  • Jack Murray-Dickson, Senior Policy Lead Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Kiran Haksar, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government


  • John Burns, Chief Operating Officer, NHS Scotland, Scottish Government
  • Laura Caven Chief Officer, Children and Young People, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) 
  • Justine Craig, Chief Midwifery Officer, Scottish Government
  • Kenny Donnelly, Procurator Fiscal, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services,   Crown Office (Moira Price deputising)
  • Alistair Hogg, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration deputising)
  • Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) representative
  • Louise Long, Chief Executive, Inverclyde Council
  • Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, East Renfrewshire Council, Social Work Scotland (Sharon Glasgow, Protecting Children Social Work and Policy and Practice Advisor, Social Work Scotland deputising)
  • Neil Rennick, Director of Justice, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting, including guests, and noted apologies.  

The Chair outlined the National Bairns' Hoose Governance Group (NBHGG) decision making structures and informed the Group that the Bairns’ Hoose Unit is exploring introducing a Declaration of Interest process. This will be an agenda item at a future meeting. 

The Chair reflected on the Standards workshop that took place on 10 January. Confirmation that the Standards publication date has been extended to 31 May and that Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) and Care Inspectorate (CI) plan to run a handover meeting before then (mid to late May) to look at the implementation of the Standards which will outline the key themes from the consultation. An embargoed copy of the Standards will be available a week before the final publication date. There may be an opportunity for members to see a copy of the Standards before then. HIS will provide confirmation on this. Members can also contact HIS directly. Bairns’ Hoose Unit (BHU) will circulate HIS Project team email address. 

Scottish Government is working with SCRA to develop a Bairns’ Hoose website which will formally be launched late spring/summer prior to the launch of the pathfinder’s phase. 


  • BHU to consider Declaration of Interest process for Governance Group and to put this on the agenda for a future meeting
  • BHU to circulate HIS Project team (HIS) email address

Minutes of last meeting and action register

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 October 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.

The Chair summarised the open and ongoing actions from the previous meeting which are: 

  • group members to provide a short video of who they are and ambitions for Bairns’ Hoose to feed back to Children and Young People
  • BHU to engage with CELCIS (National Care Service research team) to explore the possibility of inviting Alex McTier to a future Group meeting 
  • BHU/Chair to engage with Edinburgh University evaluation research and explore possibility of inviting Mary Mitchell and John Devaney to a future meeting

The Chair reiterated the importance of having a dialogue with children and young people (CYP) and confirmed that she would provide a short video for them after every meeting. This video will also be shared with the Group. She reminded members of the Changemakers video that was shown at the previous meeting and invited members again to reflect on what they had seen and heard and provide a video clip/podcast for CYP that would, in time, go on to the Bairns’ Hoose website and will also be shared with Children 1st and Healthcare Improvement Scotland. BHU will email members. 

It was noted that Lesley Swanson is having ongoing conversations with Alex McTier (CELCIS) with a view to inviting him to the next meeting. Lesley and Ms de Souza are also meeting with Professor Daniel on 14 February.  BHU will invite Alex McTier to the meeting on 25 April. 

The Chair emphasised the benefits of the Group having sight of the Edinburgh University evaluation research on Bairns’ Hoose, commissioned by Children 1st, and suggested that there may be merit in having two separate presentations (one on research and the other data) at the next meeting. Mary Glasgow confirmed that the report should be finalised by the middle of February and the Group members would be invited to a presentation of the research. 


  • BHU to email members requesting members to provide a short 1-minute video for the children and young people 
  • BHU to engage with CELCIS to invite Alex McTier to the next meeting on 25 April
  • Mary Glasgow to share Edinburgh University evaluation research and broaden any invitations she receives in relation to the evaluation to the Group 

Children and Young People

Jack Murray-Dickson (BHU) introduced paper 2 – an update on Scottish Government plans for participation and engagement of children, young people and their families in Bairns’ Hoose. He then introduced a video expressing the views of Children and Young people from the Linkoping Barnahus following the Chair, Children 1st and the Scottish Government’s visit to the Barnahus event in Stockholm in December. 

Key points highlighted:

  • the Chair of NBHGG, Scottish Government officials and Children 1st attended a European Barnahus Network Event - the first Barnahus Forum - on 5 December
  • engagement through link workers has highlighted that in addition to the children and young person’s version of the Standards, Children and Young People would find video content a more engaging way of receiving information about the Standards
  • Scottish Government is currently finalising grant arrangements with HIS to take forward the link worker model 
  • to note - Bairns’ Hoose is included in Keeping The Promise to all our children, young people, adults and families (children’s version) published 20 December 2022

Discussion points:

  • the Bairns’ Hoose website could be used as a platform to share videos expressing the views of Children and Young People on the Barnahus concept
  • European Linkoping Barnahus model is close to what we could develop in Scotland (centred around the importance of the joint interview) and planning processes
  • Children 1st visited the Barnahus in Stockholm (they have an ongoing relationship with the University there)
  • David Mackie, a retired Sheriff joined Children 1st, and has a keen interest in supporting the BH, in particular, exploring ways to improve processes around the defence experience for children and young people. Mary Glasgow assured the Group that Children 1st would keep the Governance Group informed of progress
  • discussion around similarities and differences between Scottish and Swedish legal systems in the context of developing a Barnahus


  • BHU to share the NBHGG Chairs Video made for the children and young people
  • Mary Glasgow to speak with COPFS representative and DCC Malcolm Graham to explore safety planning process and complexities around Sheriff Mackie’s position 

Terms of Reference (NBHGG)

Chantelle Lalli introduced update paper 3 – Terms of Reference (NBHGG). 

Key points highlighted: 

  • BHU has updated the language in the ToR (amended sections 4 and 6) following the Collaborative Intelligence workshop in November where members sought clarification on the decision-making powers of the NBHGG  
  • NBHGG will make decisions in relation to providing advice and recommendations on the development and implementation of the BH, however the final decision lies with Ministers
  • ministers will be looking to this group for advice and expertise on how the BH can be successfully delivered in Scotland

The Chair confirmed that the TOR will be reviewed again in 2024. 

There followed a discussion on the content of the TOR and whether any amendments are required,

Discussion points:

  • helpful to have clarification on who is responsible for the endorsement of the Standards/Standards sign off (section 4.5). Lesley Swanson referred to action 3 of the previous minute and confirmed the Standards Development Group and Standards Steering Group role in this. NBHGG role is to provide advice/make recommendations at a strategic level on the implementation of the Standards including working together to endorse the final version of the Standards. Where there are occasions when the Group members are not able to come to a consensus then the GG and / or BHU would inform Ministers of these deliberations and the rationale
  • modify sections 11.1 and 6.3 (to consider the inclusion of COSLA) 


  • BHU to finalise amendments to the ToR as suggested by members including sections 6.3 and 11.1 (to consider inclusion of COSLA)

Collaborative Intelligence Workshops Summary

The Chair provided a summary of the four Collaborative Intelligence workshops: delivered by Peoplematters on 29th September, 6th October, 8th November and 17th November 2022. She reminded the Group of the themes of the workshops: 

  • organisational Intelligence – Establishing the Collaborative Advantage
  • emotional Intelligence – Building a Cohesive Team
  • design and Digital Intelligence – Thinking Differently 
  • communication Intelligence – Creating Understanding and Engagement

The Chair asked members’ views on having another Collaborative Intelligence workshop later in the year to review progress on the development and operation of the GG.  It was agreed that this would be useful and a workshop will be arranged for September.


  • NBHGG Chair to follow up with Shona Mitchell from People Matters to organise follow up session in September

Scottish Government Bairns’ Hoose Policy Update

Lesley Swanson (BHU) introduced Scottish Government Bairns’ Hoose Update Paper (paper 3).  Key areas covered:  

  • revised delivery timeline
  • phased approach
  • pathfinders phase. The Group acknowledged the benefits of having a deep dive session on the pathfinders phase
  • budget update
  • analyst update, Lesley confirmed that the final report is expected by the end of January and will present findings from the survey of existing and planned multi-agency sites across Scotland providing, or aiming to provide, services for children and young people who have been victims and witnesses of abuse or have caused significant harm
  • draft Bairns’ Hoose Standards/extension to Standards publication to 31 May
  • European Barnahus Forum 


  • BHU to put a HOLD in members diaries to look at the Pathfinders plans (outputs and products)

Update from Children 1st on North Strathclyde Wee Hoose

Mary Glasgow provided a verbal update on Children 1st’ House for Healing project.  Key areas covered: 

  • Children 1st key focus is on supporting child victims and witnesses through the court process – they were involved in the Evidence and Review taskforce
  • they are members of the European Promise Network and have been campaigning for a number of years to bring Barnahus to Scotland. Their starting point for doing this was though the Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM) for Joint Investigative Interviews which they regard as a fundamental aspect of becoming a Bairns’ Hoose
  • they are in the midst of developing a practice model in partnership with North Strathclyde and East Renfrewshire. They have 2 sites, a ‘wee hoose’ in North Strathclyde and a ‘big hoose’ in East Renfrewshire
  • the ‘wee hoose’ very much reflects the European Barnahus model. The House will have all 4 rooms and facilities to record evidence and provide children with access to support to recover. This will be operational in June. The larger house (Capelrig House) will also have 4 child friendly rooms (Including a recovery room). It will also have co located space for police, social work and recovery workers and a seminar facility on the top floor. Mary confirmed that she would share pictures of both houses with the Group
  • the University of Edinburgh, commissioned by Children 1st, has recently completed phase one of a three-year evaluation project which will support the roll out of Bairns’ Hoose across Scotland. Mary confirmed that she would share this with the group, as above, once available

The Chair proposed inviting other multiagency sites to future meetings so members could get perspective on what is happening in other parts of Scotland. 


  • Mary Glasgow to share pictures of the ‘big’ and ‘wee’ hoose with the Group

Scope of Bairns’ Hoose

The Chair introduced Paper 6 in relation to the Promise proposal to explore the extension of the scope of Bairns’ Hoose to all children.  

Discussion points:

Members shared views on the principle of broadening the scope of Bairns’ Hoose. A number of concerns were raised about practical implications including: 

  • how interviews would be held 
  • capacity issues
  • the impact on the timeline for delivery

Moira Price (COPFS) proposed that the GG did not have authority to extend the model to include children over ACR as it was outwith the remit of the GG, as set out in the SG Bairns Hoose’ vision referred to within the TOR, and also the specific provision of 4.2 of the TOR. Moira also suggested that this would bring challenges and complications that did not arise re children under ACR and that there may be benefits in implementation re children under ACR first, which might identify processes which could be applied to older children at a later stage, in the context of different interventions outwith the Bairns Hoose’ model.
Careful consideration needs to be given to the membership of any short life working group

The GG agreed that the extension of the scope of the BH should be explored.


  • Fiona Duncan, Fiona Dyer, and NBHGG Chair to have an initial meeting (with the possibility of other members of the GG joining) to discuss the next steps in taking this forward 

Any other business

Mary Glasgow raised the issue of poor / inconsistent attendance from members of the Group

Next meeting on 25 April 2023 10 am  to 1pm (online) 

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