Respect 6th National Practitioners Seminar

I have come to anticipate a stimulating and informative experience from Respect’s Practitioner Seminars. Yesterday’s, in the London Borough of Haringey, was the 6th national conference, the first to be held in partnership with a local authority, and it certainly lived up to all expectations.

The seminars are designed for those “addressing young people’s use of violence in close relationships”, and while there was a strong representation among speakers from the DV sector, participants came from social care, health, youth offending as well as many voluntary agencies.  The workshops offered advice for those working with girls in gangs and risky relationships, children with disabilities, on choices, protective behaviour and safety planning and safeguarding, as well as the workshops around CPV which I had particularly gone to hear. The story of the development of Haringey’s multi-agency safeguarding hub provided evidence of the value of closer working together, and a presentation from Marie Horner of Tender on cyber bullying was the highlight of the morning for me.

What quickly became clear was the huge development in services across the country offering support programmes to families experiencing some level of parent abuse. The workshop led by Yuva, a young people’s service within DVIP, allowed for discussion among many practitioners able to share their own experiences and insights. Kate Iwi’s workshop similarly invited individuals to share techniques or tips, which had proved successful in addressing aggression and violence. My final choice was the workshop on empathy deficits and the mental health perspective on CPV. Sadly Peter Misch was unable to attend but the workshop was led by a colleague, who led us in a discussion looking at empathy deficit and different types of aggression, describing the goal in their work as “to give all individuals the opportunity to acknowledge and take responsibility for their part in the abuse process.”

For Respect, one of the key aspects of the day was to inform everyone about (and celebrate) the recent grant from Realising Ambition, which will enable the roll out of the Respect Young People’s Programme, addressing child to parent violence. Drawing from the Toolkit, this programme will be more structured and fully replicable to fulfill the evaluation criteria, and takes place over 3-4 months, with one or two sessions per week. Parents and young people meet together initially to establish a working relationship and look at strengths, before 2 separate sessions. After an agreement has been made looking at behaviours, consequences and rewards, parents and young people again meet separately for a number of sessions but with video conversations and regular reviews. The use of video brings an element of restorative justice work, which is key to the future functioning of the family.

The day provides so much more than each individual session. Being able to meet and learn from other practitioners, and the encouragement of talking to people thinking the same things, brings huge advantages to our work. Contacts are made, networks strengthened. At such a low price, it’s almost worth it for the lunch alone! Keep an eye on the Respect website for the next event in Cardiff in October 2012.

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