I have just returned from the FICE Europe conference in Hungary, where I have been hearing about the range and scale of issues facing children and young people, practitioners, researchers and policy makers across Europe. As well as presentations from the new EU countries who are working hard to develop and implement coherent Child Protection systems, our colleagues across Europe are managing an unprecedented influx of unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children, in the biggest mass migration of people escaping war and poverty since World War 2.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the guiding principle for this work. It is a beacon of hope for many people, a valuable legal and organisational framework under which services are working to meet such a complex range of need, and sadly, often in hostile political climates.
With the current move to Brexit, our collaboration with FICE keeps open the possibility of sharing best practice with our European colleagues. Fantastic and innovative work is being carried out to meet the needs of traumatised children and young people. The International Centre and FICE have a common goaI; to share our knowledge, training and research, as part of this development towards improved services. We are working in partnership with FICE to hold a UK conference next year.
This edition of the International Centre News shares some of that work closer to home; see the two deeply reflective articles by social care workers from ‘Smyly homes’ in Dublin. Ed Drea’s article reminds us that ‘What is close to the heart is close to the mouth’ and makes us question the use and meaning of language, including verbal abuse, as an expression of feelings in our relationships with emotionally troubled young people. Des Mooney's article uses analytic and philosophical insights to raise the important question: 'should we and can we expect the young people in our care to express gratitude?'
Keith White offers his regular articles on ‘the therapy of shared experiences and memories’, and his second on the importance of celebrating age diversity in our neighbourhoods, communities and therapeutic communities.
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