The Napo Family Court Professional Conference was a great success on 12 June. The day was co-ordinated by drama therapist and creative writer, Nikki Disney, who was sourced for us by Writing East Midlands.
In a speech entitled “Creative Force” – how to utilise the power of creativity to understand children and young people’s whole experience, she spoke about:
We tested this by the following very quick and effective exercise:
Nikki quoted Einstein as having said “creativity is intelligence having fun” and we looked at a range of tools and toys that can be used to help children and young people express their views, wishes, feelings and fears. These can also be used to cut down work time and allow the child to think freely.
She ended the day with a poem that reflected our experience of it that she had put together while we were working. Nikki’s presentation was dynamic and fun. How wonderful to take time to play and reflect from our overly busy work lives.
Jennifer Gibbon-Lynch and Bethany Shepherd then gave a very positive presentation on behalf of the Family Justice Young People’s Board. The FJYPB members represent the voice of children and young people across England and Wales who have experience of family law proceedings. The youngest member of the board is aged seven and they have to retire from it by age 25.
They told the very moving story of a young man who had tried to take his own life at age seven as he was so unhappy in his dysfunctional birth family. After several unsuccessful foster placements, he was adopted by a loving family and this has turned his life around. He is now 25 and works for a safeguarding children board in a local authority. He ends his description of events by saying “without a family who are you?” One of the positive aspects of the Family Justice system as far as he was concerned was that the judge at the adoption hearing listened to him.
Visit https://www.napo.org.uk/FJYPBDQ to see a diversity quiz presented by the Family Justice Young People’s Board.
We were shown a list of wishes about what should happen in work with Cafcass and 10 top tips. The power point presentation is available on the Cafcass website.
Ian Lawrence (Napo General Secretary) also addressed the conference and we had workshops presented by Dr Gillian Macdonald (on Wishes and feeling work with children in domestic abuse cases); Melanie Carew (on Separate representation of children and young people) and Nasra Ahmed and Shamil Ahmed (on Integrate UK). I will talk some more about them in the next edition of Napo Magazine.
All in all, this was a successful day and many thanks should go to Olivia Fitch (Chair of Family Court Committee) and Jacqui Paryag (Napo administrator) for their hard work in making it happen. Thanks also to our Speakers and Workshop Facilitators.
National vice-chair (Family Court Section)