Sanctuary house for child victims and witnesses

A Scandinavian-style sanctuary house will “end the nightmare for thousands” of Scots children who have been victims or witnesses of crime, charity leaders have said.

Children will be able to give evidence and receive medical care

The Child’s House for Healing will be a UK first and is based on the Barnahus model, first developed in Iceland, to provide a safe haven for youngsters as an alternative to courts, social work offices and police stations.

It is expected to open some time next year with potential sites being identified in the west of Scotland after the project secured £1.5 million in People’s Postcode Lottery funding.

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Children will be able to give evidence, get medical care and support and be involved in decisions about their protection in the building, which will be designed to feel like a family home.

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.”

Project partners Children 1st, Victim Support Scotland, Children England and Edinburgh University have joined forces to create the house. About 12,600 children in Scotland require support to give evidence in court.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “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.”

The People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund allows organisations to apply for funding to bring projects to life over a two-year period.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I am proud that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is being used to support children who are the victims of crime, creating a safe space for them at an incredibly difficult time.”