Minutes of the 2016 National Centre Advisory Group meeting. John Diamond

Dear Colleagues,

As a way to acknowledge completion of our work across the 2015/16 academic year, find here the minutes of the National Centre Advisory Group meeting. These review our activity over the last year, and identify strategic plans for the next.

I look forward to re-engaging with you all, and our important work, in September.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and restful Summer break.

Kind regards,


National Centre

Minutes of the 2016 National Centre Advisory Group Meeting.
Held at The Mulberry Bush School, Linden House annexe. July 1st 2016

In attendance: John Diamond (Chair) Craig Fees ( PETT), Jonathan Stanley ( NCERCC & ICHA) Rosemary Lilley (Child Care History Network) , Caryn Onions (Mulberry Bush).

Apologies: Peter Clarke – Glebe House, Andre Palmer – Kites Child Care, Heather Price UEL.

  1. Review of the year.

The NC continues to position itself as a free alliance of practitioners and academics, aiming to create dialogue across the residential and fostering sectors, with a mission to disseminate best practice in therapeutic care, reflective practice, training and research. We now have 120 (mainly) organisational and individual members.

The ‘therapeutic care journal’: (https://thetcj.org.uk) has now been established for one year and is currently being published on a bi-monthly basis. The next edition is August 1st.

Training Event (1): ‘What do I care? ‘Understanding my place in the system of care’ April 14-15th. In partnership with University of Essex, Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies and Childhood First.

John Diamond reported that this had been a successful event. The design was experimental and innovative mixing experiential ‘group relations’ principles with more ‘didactic’ presentations from Lisa Cherry, Liz Huband, John Burton and Peter Wilson, and with practice workshops by Chris Nicholson, Steph Davies and Dan Neale. 19 delegates, mainly foster carers, had attended.

It was advertised as: ‘This event is an opportunity for accelerated professional development in your role and career. It aims to help you make connections between your personal and professional identity and develop as a reflective practitioner’.

JD commented that as a learning environment it had brought to the surface some of the unconscious projective processes that are activated within the relationships between carers and young people. This made the conference very challenging, but through the collective task of understanding and resolving these dynamics in ‘here and now’ groups, delegates had found the depth of personal learning very satisfying. One member of the staff group pointed out that at one time such experiential training was integrated into training for residential workers e.g. the Bristol University Advanced course in residential care, run by Chris Beedell.

Advisory Group members discussed how the NC might make this type of training more familiar, e.g. use the Child Care History Network and PETT to review how experiential learning was part of residential care history, maybe to hold a conference, or meetings to share knowledge. How do we rebuild such a culture ?

Craig Fees commented that Researchers often leave archives, archivists and records managers out of the loop. Archivists and record managers are essential in the selection, retention, preservation and management of information. Their involvement is essential to building firm foundations on which future researchers can build, making it easier to find past research, and providing secure and accessible bases for the records and data of research carried out now. Craig to forward JD with archive groups to contact. (4 groups: 1. The Archives and Records Association (ARA) (John Chambers), 2.Charity Archivists and Records Managers Group (CHARM) (Ian Wakeling), 3. Information and Records Management Society (IRMS)(Scott Sammons), 4. The National Archives (Head of Independent Archives – Phillip Gale?)

The Advisory Group also discussed having some video clips of participants talking about what it was like, these could go on the NC website.

The single element that has been of most concern is the loss of reflective practice, especially as we move into a more overtly solution focused instrumental culture. How do we develop a culture of context and bring people back into a conversation.


  1. JD to contact Chris Nicholson to ask if Essex might make some video interviews with delegates to go on the NC website or ‘you tube’. These could have a focus on ‘what does making a relationship and living as a group’ mean.
  2. We agreed to organise an event with PETT and CCHN with archivists and records managers present and presenting – Reynold Lemming, Elizabeth Varley and Ian Wakeling were named.

Training Event (2): ‘Cutting edge work with traumatised young people’. In partnership with the University of Kent, Centre for Child Protection. April 21st 

This was our third South East ‘Best Practice event’ in partnership with the University of Kent Centre for Child Protection. 137 delegates attended. JD spoke of the fantastic ongoing support for the NC from Dr David Shemmings, Jane Reeves, Mark Kerr, Karen Paine and all the CCP team.

The programme had included presentations from:

  • Mark Kerr on a ‘View from the top’ an overview of policy developments,
  • Dr David Shemmings and Jane Reeves Directors of CCP presented on ‘Pushing the boundaries- can technology help traumatised young people. The DfE innovation project.’ In the afternoon session, Dr. Shemmings spoke on ‘What does resolved trauma look like ?’, and Jane Reeves on the virtual ‘Looking out for Lottie’ training
  • Richard Rose, Director of Child Trauma Intervention Services Ltd on ‘Sharing Storiees, Sharing Life; The role of therapeutic life story work
  • Afternoon workshops were run by the Mulberry Bush School, Vanisha Jassal, and Tracee Green, (University of Kent), and Dr. Yvon Guest.

JD reported that we had received about 50% of evaluation forms, all of which regarded it as Good or Excellent. The cost of the day was £70 and the NC remains committed to wherever possible delivering very high quality training at low cost. Advisory Group members in attendance commented on the importance of support from ‘the authority of academics’, and that the NC should continue to ‘go regionally with free to attend, relationship based events’. Use training events to promote the core concepts of ‘making relationship and making sense of relationships’.

  1. Reflective group discussion: Current preoccupations and concerns for our sector.

Notes were not made to respect confidentiality, but themes included:

The meaning and impact of Brexit, especially ensuring that Sir Martin Narey’s independent review of  the role of residential care, did not get forgotten over the coming months under the re- shuffling of political parties via leadership contests, and the  forthcoming tide of Brexit related Government activity.

  1. Strategic Planning for next year.

JD reported on ongoing discussion/ initiatives:

  1. JD asked with numbers of international members increasing, and post Brexit, should we be now be calling the alliance the International Centre ?
  2. With NC members Jim Rose and Brian de Lord, we are looking into developing Level 2 and 3 training packages, as identified in the December Advisory group meeting.
  3. In partnership with ICHA and NCERCC we have established our first Northern Reflective Group Forum, ‘Introduction to Reflective Practice’ to be held at UCLAN on July 13th. Thanks to Ros Denby at Sandcastle Care, and Zachari Duncalf at UCLAN for their hard work to establish this.
  4. JD would like support from members with any of the above actions, or developing ideas further.

John Diamond, July 4th 2016.