We are all born and live in families. Every family is unique with its own culture, personalities, individual dynamics and history. Every family goes through difficulties and problems every now and then. There are difficult situations related with children, youth, parents, older people in the family which might be sorted out easily with the support of relatives and friends. There are also cases when some help from health specialists, educational institutions, social services or other agencies could be necessary.
The Family group conference is a way to find out solutions to various problems when children, parents, members of the extended family, friends come together to make a plan. It is based on an old traditional and easy to understand concept – the power of the family circle. The family conference provides an opportunity chance for the family to get together, mobilize its own strengths and resources and to make the best possible plan to overcome the problems of a child or another member of the family. The members of the family take the decisions and the responsibilities. The professional do not decide – they provide the necessary information, support and services.
Tulip Foundation laid the fundament for the application of the method Family Group conference in Bulgaria in 2011 with the Trust in the Family Programme with partnership of Eigen Kracht Centrale. Tulip Foundation is an active member of the EU FGC network.
The annual EU FGC network meeting took place in Edinburg in the beginning of October. It was hosted by Edinburg City Council and started with a reception at the City Chambers. During the working days various presentations and workshops took place at the hall of the Grassmarket Project. Dr. Mary Mitchell from Edinburgh University did special a workshop on her research into outcomes of Family Group Decision Making in Scotland. The participants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands, Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Bosnia, Check Republic, Sweden, France, USA, Norway and Bulgaria discussed a range of topics of common interest. The experience of the colleagues in Spain was presented as well.
The participants were also invited to join a Ceilidh - a Scottish evening of live music and dance. On the last day the network members decided that next year the annual meeting will take place in Bratislava, Slovakia. The meeting finished with a traditional farewell song of “Auld Lang Syne”.
The day before the network meeting an International Conference on Family Group Decision Making took place in celebration of 20 Years of FGDM in Scotland and a Vision for the Next 20 years. The conference was opened by Maree Todd, Minister for Early Years and Childcare and Mary Glasgow, Acting Chief Executive, Children 1st – the organisation that has introduced the model to Scotland. Lisa Merkel-Holguin from Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado School Of Medicine in the USA made a presentation on Family Group Decision Making in the USA. Hedda van Lieshout from Eigen Kracht Centrale ion the Netherlands spoke about Family Group Decision Making in the Netherlands. Kate Morris and Peter Marsh shared their experience in Family Group Conferencing / Family Group Decision Making for adults. Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner of Scotland addressed the audience form a child’s rights perspective.
Tulip Foundation is an active member of the network since 2011. During the next month the team of the Foundation will be involved in drafting a position of the network on the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC.