Family Court Section

Hello to all Family Court Section members (and to all other colleagues who may read this article). Today is the second day of Spring and it is snowing hard as I am writing this. Never mind!

Planning and preparation for the Napo Family Court Professional conference are now very nearly complete and this is shaping up into a really good event. You should have received flyers through email but in case you did not I will summarise the information below.

The title of the conference is “Working with Vulnerable Young People” and the date is 26 May 2016. The conference will be held in Birmingham. Leicestershire Crime Directorate Complex Investigation Team are going to address the issues of “Forced Marriage and Modern Day Slavery”.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who is the founder of Karma Nirvana and a former victim of forced marriage, will also address the conference. She is a campaigner and advocate for the rights of those experiencing forced marriage and “honour based” abuse.

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, has been invited to speak at the event but we are not sure of her availability as yet. Further to the child sexual abuse investigations and findings in Rotherham, she is campaigning about issues of child sexual exploitation, including via the internet. She addressed the Women in Napo conference last year and was a very inspiring speaker.

There will be a variety of workshops addressing a range of topics. These will include fatalities of children subject to private law proceedings (Sian Hawkins – Women’s Aid); working with young people with eating disorders (Emma Aldwinckle – NQFCA); International mediation and protecting the rights of children abroad and forced marriage, causes and interventions (Ayndrilla Singharay – ASHA)

The Family Court Journal was distributed to members towards the end of last year. This was well received and two further editions are planned for Spring and Autumn of this year. Many thanks to the Editors John Mallinson and Brian Kirby and the Editorial Board. If you have ideas for articles you may wish to submit for publication please contact them at or and they will be pleased to look at these with you.

BASWA invited Napo to send two delegates to their recent conference on “The Future of Social Work”. Ian Lawrence and I attended this event which was well attended by Social Workers, Managers, Service Users, Academics, Journalists, Chief Social Worker for England (adults), Chief Social Worker for England (children), an MP and others.

Some of the emerging themes: The threat of privatisation by Government, the need to stand together and lobby with a strong collective voice, the need to improve public trust in Social Workers, maintain high standards in Social Work education, the challenges to good practice.

Some of the key messages were:

  • Privatisation is further along than people realise.
  • We need to value what we have before we dismantle it.
  • The need for organisations, trade unions and professional associations to put aside our differences and form a strong voice and digital platform for us all and to include service users in that.
  • To develop a standing conference across the UK to formally bring together the various groups.
  • Such alliances need to reflect the diversity of the Social Work profession.
  • The public need to be better informed about what we do.
  • Continue to value open ethical positive social work.
  • Adult and Children’s services to work more closely.

There was a recurring theme throughout the conference that we need to work together to improve trust and good practice, but most importantly to resist privatisation.

Apologies if you have seen this before as I provided it to Ian for his blog but it is worth a further mention here for those who missed it.

Don’t forget that you will receive a discount on your Napo subscriptions if you sign up to pay by direct debit.

Concern about high workloads continues and we have just learned that there are to be swathing cuts in the Business Support complement, which will exacerbate the situation. The workloads sub group of partnership has been put back (due to ill health).

Recruitment and retention are important to Napo (as to all Trade Unions and Professional Associations) so do contact Napo to join if you have not yet done so and encourage your colleagues to do likewise. Membership offers many benefits as well as security through support, advice and representation.

Jay Barlow
National Vice Chair – Cafcass


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