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.
During this different year we all did new things, and many of the usual things we did differently. The members of the European network for family group conferencing meet annually in different cities and countries for 18 years. This autumn we met in ZOOM. We were colleagues with various professional experience from 20 different countries with a common believe that the family is the best place for finding a solution for its members regardless their age or difficulties. As we know that every family is different.
During the morning hours of the week from 9 to 13 November 2020 we shared news and talked about creative ways for working in pandemic restrictions, the possibility and the ways to organise a hybrid meeting of the family, the participation of children in the decision making in the family. During 17 parallel Open Space sessions over two days we followed interesting presentations on the Live Long Links (LLL) programme, the family group conference as a right, practical experience with refugee families, practices in applying the approach to support older people in various countries. The themes about shame as a factor in working with families and the development of FGC approach in Europe provoked lively discussions. The European Friday story is the idea that motivated all participants to get involved in the coming months.