THE Social Work (Scotland) Act of 1968 underpinned the setting up of the Children's Hearings system which became operational in early 1971.

Application to become a volunteer panel member was by competitive interview and rigorous training over a period of several months prior to 1971. I was fortunate to be accepted into such a ground-breaking endeavour and indeed it proved a valuable foundation for later social work training.

Over the years, as the problems faced by youngsters became more challenging and complex, panel members required the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job.

At the same time the misinformed and judgmental hardliners began to call for the "professionalisation" of hearings. Some parents were instructing solicitors and there were times when hearings became increasingly adversarial. When they appeared, a surprising number of these legal experts were patently unaware of how the hearings were meant to work and support the needs of children. They were usually shot down by panel members.

Catriona Stewart ("Volunteers play a vital role in hearings", The Herald, May 30) elegantly and eloquently captures the essence of the system and flags up possible and perhaps major changes to the way it works in the future.

The call for paid professionals has been raised several times over the over the years and always fizzled out. I hope this remains the case. There is nothing to match volunteers' care and commitment to what is often a stressful and thankless task in the minds of the public despite the occasional highs when positive outcomes are eventually achieved for young people.

Ann Ross-McCall, Glasgow.

• AS a former Children’s Reporter with 23 years of experience, I write to support the powerful case Catriona Stewart makes as an experienced panel member for retaining volunteer panel members in the Children’s Hearings system.

With the current proposals for change, we would lose this crucial voluntary element in favour of paid members with a professional chair. An imbalance could be created between "ordinary" paid panel members and their professional chair. At present decision-making is a shared process between each panel member.

It has always struck me as a strength of the system that suitable volunteers are selected from their local communities and it was impressive to see while serving as Children’s Reporter the diverse range of candidates from different backgrounds coming forward due to a shared concern about the wellbeing of children and young people.

Simply paying people to sit on Children’s Hearings does not make them any more professional but could add a monetary motive for coming forward. The important point to remember is that it is the quality of regular training which panel members undergo and their commitment to continuous learning about young people that is essential for informed decision-making. I would therefore agree with Ms Stewart that unless an extremely robust case can be made for these changes they should not be implemented by the Scottish Government.

Stephen Hunter, Lochgilphead, Argyll.

Read more: Unanswered questions over Scotland's children's panel reform

The tyranny of self-service

DUE to apparent 19th-century factory-style working practices in UK shops I no longer ask my regular question from the 2010s. I used to ask the clerks in TSB when they regularly harangued me (that is how it eventually felt) to do online banking why they were so keen to unemploy themselves. Now the last TSB anywhere near me is closed I can't ask.

Having had stand-up rows in a supermarket about being forced to used unstaffed tills, I began questioning: who do they think is going to buy all this stuff when no one has a job?

This morning I had the usual battle of wills in a well-known posh supermarket where I was buying a treat (not my whole shop obviously) and the stressed young woman desperately trying to force me to use the self-service check-out eventually admitted that staff were under a lot of pressure to make customers use the damn things. They were in fact timed in all their tasks.

So, 19th century factory practices in a UK store near you, and maybe soon ... the same standards of living.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.

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Concern over Calmac staff

THE new ticketing system introduced by Calmac has impacted greatly on customers using the service, with significant delays and many booking difficulties.

As a medical professional, albeit retired, what concerns me much more is the unacceptable level of stress endured by the hardworking and caring Calmac counter staff. They have a difficult job to do at the best of times, given well-recognised service difficulties and cancellations. To now place upon them a ticketing system that to all intents appears hopelessly inadequate, and operates at a snail’s pace, is hardly likely to lead to a safe and healthy working environment.

The problem also begs the question as to whether this is a failure in managing change, or whether, given the delays in introduction, it represents a further waste of public money in a booking system never fit for purpose.

Robert Cumming, Lochranza, Isle of Arran.

Read more: Don't vilify us: we baby boomers had to work hard for what we have

Queen Street queues blues

I AGREE whole-heartedly with Steve Brennan (Letters, May 31) regarding Glasgow Queen Street station. I try not to make a habit of jumping on a train at Hyndland without buying a ticket first, but the temptation is too great if the train I want is already at the platform. If I get off at Central or Argyle Street stations, there are ticket sellers near to the platforms, coping well with the ticketless public. At Queen Street? Not a chance. So I join the queue and tell myself to leave the house earlier next time.

Isobel Frize, Glasgow.

Silent scream

REFERENCE to the generational cohort 1946-1964 Baby Boomers (Letters, May 31), and regular mentions of Gen X to Millennials to Gen Z and the newly-emerging Gen Alpha have left those of my generation (1928-1946), who grew up in the shadow of the Depression, pre-antibiotics, pre-the NHS, the Second World War and rationing, feeling left a bit out in the cold.

A quick Google reveals that we are known as the Radio Babies, the Traditionalist Generation, or the Silent Generation.

Radio and Traditionalist I’m happy to accept, but I’m not so sure about the Silent label.

Some of us are still standing up and talking back.

R Russell Smith, Largs.