Family Group Conferencing in Camden

Autumn 2015 Newsletter

Annual Report Summary - the front line is key

We say Family Group Conferences (FGCs) give an important chance for the family and community around a child or a vulnerable adult to step in.

Camden holds more FGCs per year than any other local authority in London. Meetings in communities up and down the borough, for people to get information, have their say and make plans that matter very much to them. Last financial year more than 220 FGCs were held, that’s over 600 hours of discussion and collaboration, families keeping their own children and vulnerable adults safe.

More than 9 in 10 people give feedback that they were happy with the outcome of their FGC in Camden and nearly 8 in 10 people say that they feel more in control following their FGC (up to 6 months after it occurred) and better able to cope with future problems.

Why are we successful? CSF Director Martin Pratt says

“The implementation of family group conference is so powerful in Camden because it is a practice based initiative born of our values locally and we have organised it in a way that is consistent with our wider approach to family resilience.”

So the front line is key,

In Camden family group conference is not an service with a project base and a telephone on reception in the traditional way; it is about collaboration across teams, services and directorates including; family services and social work; adult social care; Mosiac; community safety; youth offending service; police community safety team.

There are good things to say like the high rate of involvement of fathers, present at nearly two thirds of FGCs, detailing timely - early FGCs, evidence of family stepping up while professional involvement steps down (from CIN CP and LAC - following 84 % of initial FGCs).

Thanks to everyone who contributes to family group conferencing; everyone who made their first FGC referral; Managers who recommend FGC; Senior Managers that consistently put it on the agenda; our user group the Family Advisory Board and all those that time and time again make referrals and talk to families about the difference family group conference can make.

Email if you want a copy of the full FGC Annual report.

Hidden Talent! FGC expert found in Business Support Service

Karina Wujek talks about her family group conference research and her hopes for Camden families using FGC.

What’s your history with Family Group Conferencing ?

My credentials are academic rather than practical. I hold an MSc degree in Public Policy and Management, Birkbeck College. In one of my courses I studied equality in public policy making and, as a result of my interest in this area, in my dissertation I explored the introduction of the FGC in Camden.

How did you become involved with Camden FGC?

Tim read my Dissertation this summer which focuses on a 5 year period when FGC was being introduced to Camden. We the spoke about where FGC was now and how it has developed since my research. With agreement from my Team Leader I was able to meet with Tim regularly because I am driven to contribute to improving this service. It goes back to my motivations to study Public policy in the first place.

What do you think is your best achievement so far ?

My best achievement is that I have been able to say things that mattered. My personal belief from my academic research and conversations with Tim is that FGC could be more family focused in its language and involve as many people in the community as possible. It is about communicating with Families who are using the service and showing them what is in it for them, to get their attention and their commitment to make a Plan. Following consultation with social workers and FGC coordinators I redesigned the social work report template for FGC to meet these aims, and to help open the door for facilitating large family group conferences.

Have you been working on anything new?

Yes I have, it is really exciting to see the development of early help FGCs and how they might fit with the Resilient families programme, because this is in keeping with my view of what FGC can do for people in the community. I am convinced that it is important that we develop how we measure success, as quickly as changes happen.

Early Help FGC

An update on how things are going.

Thanks to Early Help and MASH we have had 17 referrals since January. 16 of these 17 families engaged with the service. Which we believe is evidence that the referrals have been appropriate and early help conversations about family group conference valuable.

These referrals have led to 18 FGCs so far (including review FGCs) involving 10 of these families. Of the remaining; 3 referrals are still in the preparation phase and 3 families found positive resolutions in the build up without holding an FGC.

One parent recently took the time to email:

"It has been an awful time with my grief but it was wonderful to hear your feedback [Advocacy] from the children. Life goes on!

As you know, I found the thought of the process very daunting. However with your help, guidance and thorough approach it has been a great experience for me and my family"


Early Help referrals have helped families plan for:

Support for a parent and child affected by a mental health issue; establishing contact for a young person estranged from their father; support for a young carers; housing for a family who were intentionally homeless; dealing with parental separation; agreeing kinship care options; improvement in parent child relationships; community support from friends and church leaders.

Interesting Links for FGC

Learning from Camden Social Workers

Camden Social Workers that hail originally from New Zealand Sarah McCorkindale (senior practitioner in Adoption Team) and Amanda Wills (social worker in Kentish Town team) talked to our FGC Coordinators last month. They described - from their extensive experience! - how FGC works in its country of origin outlining the detail of the legislation that made FGC famous: Click Through Link if you want to see the legislation (FGC section is mainly s 20 – 38).

The evocative Photo below shows a Maori Challenge to the NZ government at the time of change in NZ social care.

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