The CYCJ Team has grown and grown in 2023, with new funding allowing us to do more and extend our reach. In this series we take the chance to get to know a little bit more about who our new team members are, and the nature of the work they’re doing. Next to face the music is Practice Development Advisor Gill McCallum.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and interests, and how they’ve led you to CYCJ at this point in your career?
I qualified as a social worker in 2008 and worked in a Children and Families team for over ten years where I did a lot of work with 16 and 17-year-olds in conflict with the law. This has always been an area of interest for me, from right back to when I was a student social worker, and an area I kept on as a lead role when I moved into my Senior Social Worker role.
What’s the nature of the work that you’re doing with CYCJ?
At CYCJ I am a Practice Development Advisor with Lead role for Youth Courts. It’s my job to support the Local Authorities to implement Youth Courts within their area.
What do you think are the biggest challenges you’ll face when it comes to supporting more Local Authorities and Sheriffdoms to develop their own youth courts?
I think there is an appetite and an understanding of the need for change, but I think there might be some reluctance as workers are concerned about their workloads. I also think that there may be some concerns about how the court could be resourced but that’s what I’m here to help with!
For those who haven’t read the Glasgow Youth Court report, or followed developments in this area, what is the rationale behind youth courts?
It has been recognised that young people up to age 26 have different needs that need to be met to try to break the offending cycle. The rationale for youth courts is a problem-solving court approach to try to better support this group and support them towards desistance. This is done via social work and third sector partner agencies supporting the young people.
Am I right in thinking this isn’t the first time you’ve worked in Youth Courts – you worked within Airdrie Youth Court as was, at a much earlier stage in your career? How has the narrative around evolved around Youth Courts and what they should achieve, in the intervening years?
I was the social worker within my area who sat in the youth court in Airdrie previously to support the young people I was working with and to answer any queries from the sheriff. Since the pilot running at Airdrie stopped and this new approach to youth courts has been implemented the approach has evolved to become a more problem-solving supportive court, where young people have the chance to participate. The goal now is much more about support for the young person and including them in how we get to a place where they are no longer in the court.
How have you found the transition from being a hands on Senior Social Worker, to working behind the scenes with Local Authorities and other stakeholders in your role here at CYCJ?
I have struggled with the different pace and the differing demands on your time, it’s like two different worlds!
Outside of CYCJ, I know your partner is a photographer (David took photos for us at this year’s National Youth Justice Conference). Does he take you with him on weird and wonderful photoshoots, or would you rather be relaxing at home when he’s out there with his camera?
Yes! I still have a very clear memory of a very cold evening on a windfarm so he could get the perfect sunset shot! We walk a lot outside of work as well and it take forever to go anywhere because he’s always stopping to take pictures!
What’s the best way for people to get in touch if they want to find out more?
Email me at email@example.com