International Centre News 1st December 2020

A warm welcome to our newest members; Claire Greatbanks (Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Alternative Provision), Catherine Bernie ( Brookfields School, W.Berks), Chantel Yates ( Belmont- Sandmat, UK), Mark Escott ( CEO, Life Chances), Anne- Marie Stewart and the High Close Therapeutic Team, Helen Mc Cormick ( Headteacher, Kingsmeadow School).

Our Recent Events
We ran three successful and well attended online events in October and November. 

The first was a partnership between our International Centre sub group ‘the Child Care History Network’ and the Dartington Centre for Social Policy. The theme was ‘Care of Young Offenders; Progress or Decline?

This was a two day Zoom event, the first day focused on the history of youth justice services, with talks on the history of the Approved school and Community Homes with Education regimes, from Jim Hyland, David Lane and Jessamy Carlson, who spoke on the history of Approved Schools for girls. Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers Association gave a powerful and moving account of his own personal experiences of ‘the young person’s journey’ – being ‘lost’ into the care and youth justice system as a child and young person.

Day two focused on current practice in the secure estate, with John Drew speaking on services since the late 1980’s (and bringing his huge experience to Chair the discussion groups on both days), Sonia Brookes (Governor) and Giles Mc Cathie (Lead Psychologist) at HMP Werrington Young Offenders Institution, talking about current practice. Darren Coyne spoke again on ‘the young person’s journey,’ and Psychiatrist Dr Kajetan Kasinski on his experiences of working with ‘trauma and treatment,’ at the former Medway Secure Training Centre.

You can read a summary of the event here.

In November we ran our second ‘Trauma Informed Practice’ conference in partnership with The Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma. We heard excellent contributions on the theme of ‘Using biopsychosocial models to promote recovery’ from speakers; Dr Matt Woolgar (Consultant Clinical Psychologist, National Adoption and Fostering Service at the Maudsley Hospital), James Mc Allister, (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist), Dr Jane Herd (CEO of ‘Orb8’ Mental Health Charity) and Amanda Shirtcliff (Independent Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the field of Child Protection/ Court Expert Witness).

Finally our International Centre Research Group meeting was held on November 26th. Our speakers were Jessamy Carlson of Essex University on ‘That Sort of Gl.. Approved Schools for Girls in England and Wales, 1933 – 1973’ and Bethany Jay of MMU who spoke on her work’ Researching the Emotional Work in Residential Children’s Homes; How Residential Support Workers Use, Manage and Control Their Emotions.’

Our Forthcoming Event in January

Co-regulation and Attunement with Vulnerable Children 

22 January 2021
Online Event via Zoom

The Mulberry Bush and Orb 8 present an online seminar for fostering and social care services

Learning objectives:
  • To increase understanding of the emotional needs of children across service and school transitions
  • Understanding the emotional and sensory needs of vulnerable children
  • To share strategies for getting alongside children and holding them in mind
  • To explore the development of relational support systems for school staff and ways of creating an attuned culture for staff and pupils

*Early Bird Ticket Offer*
Book your ticket by the 10th January and pay the early bird price of £10 (after the 10th January all tickets will cost £20)

Find out more and book your place here

Job Vacancy

The Oasis Charity are searching for a ‘Director of Care and Wellbeing’ for their new Medway secure therapeutic school. Find out more about the role and how to apply here.

Much of the material in this edition is about the importance of ‘attuned preoccupation’ with severely emotionally troubled children and young people. I am mindful of Winnicott’s concept of ‘the child, the family, and the outside world’ as an image of concentric circles around the child, as the three levels of social interaction which each child needs to navigate towards healthy emotional development.

Starting with the ‘inner circle’ in his first paper ‘The Trouble With JaneThomas Keaney CEO of the TCES group of Schools in London explores this preoccupation and the importance of  ‘holding Jane in mind’ in himself and other school staff. He  reminds us in his second paper ‘The One That Got Away’  that despite our best intentions, our efforts are not always successful and in some cases are never far away from a tragic loss.

Similarly, in his paper ‘Seconds Out, Round Three’ Keith White explores the minute by minute preoccupation of the ‘emotional holding’ involved in providing a good experience for a contact visit for siblings at Mill Grove. Emotional holding also implies ‘a safe space’ the theme of  Keith’s second piece, ‘The Right Kind of Space’, exploring how over time, each child needs to experience this emotional holding extending out from the relationship, to the wider ‘facilitating environment’.

Dr Chris Hanvey moves us into the second circle as part of ‘the family’ with his paper ‘Fostering and the Therapeutic Relationship’ where he offers important and insightful reflections on the recruitment and selection  of foster carers. I offer a brief paper written for the 2019 Coram ‘permanence ‘ conference entitled ‘creating belonging’, (which Chris mentions in his paper). My intention was to show how specialist residential care can offer a more neutral environment which can help support and prepare a child for a successful foster placement through an experience of therapeutic group living.

Tanya Trafford of the High Close therapeutic team, takes us from the family level to the ‘outside world’ in her paper  ‘The Wrong End Of The Spectrum’ where we learn that despite the children and families act of 2014, parents and carers are still struggling to access services as some Local Authorities are still refusing to assess higher functioning autistic children and young people for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). Despite very real pressures on LA budgets, what might be done to extend the ‘facilitating environment’ for families as an extended systemic level of support ?

Finally, Debra Doggett from the Planned Environment Therapy Archives at MB3 explores the personal papers and official records of Dr Josephine Lomax-Simpson, founder of the Messenger House Trust and an early advocate for continuity of care.

Please do keep sending us your papers for publication. Wishing all our readers a peaceful and restful Christmas and New Year.

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