Family group conference (FGC)

What is an FGC?

As members of a family we all can find ourselves having things to sort out, or be at points in time when decisions need to be made.

Whether we are in difficult times, struggling to manage our children or needing support with making plans for our children, Family Group Conference (FGC) can be a useful option.

Why hold a family group conference?

An FGC is free and is an independent meeting organised for you with the family and friends you want to have there. It is a chance for you to take time out from busy family life, to help come up with solutions and a plan to deal with whatever is going on.

Camden can offer a family group conference to families who are known to the Early Help team, those who are working with a social worker or the youth offending service and also adults working with adult social care if they feel they need one. 

Why I had an FGC

Camden family group conference service presents 'Why I had an FGC - a short animated film', which introduces FGCs to older young people and describes how an FGC could improve their lives.

It features the stories of local young people experiencing difficulties at home, at school and in the community and how an FGC helped bring about positive changes for them and those around them.

The film also includes a story of a young person who is experiencing difficulties in school and the community and how the FGC made a difference to him and those around him. Camden’s FGC service made the documentary with film-maker Suzanne Cohen and a group of volunteer animation students from London Metropolitan University.

What our Family Advisory Board (family members who’ve had an FGC) said:

“We know how you feel - don’t feel defensive, as a family conference can help you and your family. You might feel nervous, frightened and intimidated but we have been through what you’re going through and it helps so much, just to know you’re not on your own.”

What family members said after taking part in an FGC:

“It got to the heart of the matter.”

“With everyone in the room, no-one could go away saying they did not know what was going on.”

What Camden young people said:

“Everyone spoke and listened to each other.”

“It gives you a chance to think about what is happening and plan to make things better.”

“It gives you a space to talk, helping with confidence and being able to look at the future.”

“It promotes togetherness and helps young people.”

Where do FGCs come from?

FGCs came from New Zealand and are based on the idea of 'hui' - the Maori meaning for a meeting where a collective approach is taken to resolving issues. ‘Hui’ is the traditional form of decision-making in Maori tribal culture. At its heart is the idea that a child is not just raised by their parent/s but by their entire tribe.

When is an FGC helpful? Giving voices and choices

An FGC can help in almost any situation where decisions need to be made, something needs talking about and sorting out.

Some examples from Camden families:

  • drawing up plans for children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • support for new parents and those with children under five
  • giving a families children, young people a voice when social services are involved
  • reducing antisocial behaviour from young people in the community
  • ensuring that children whose parents are seriously ill continue to receive the care they need
  • supporting a parent with a mental or physical disability
  • helping relatives to care for children or young people
  • improving school attendance
  • addressing problems caused by divorce or separation
  • supporting young carers and their families. 

Helping Hands

The Family Advisory Board (FAB) is a group of family members who have had an FGC and meet regularly to talk and give ideas to the FGC service in Camden. FAB has recently started a project called Helping Hands, where family volunteers with experience of FGC and the child protection process are trained to meet a family who are new to FGCs. We know that some people can be anxious about taking part and Helping Hands was an idea from our user group to, in their words, 'make a difference'. They say: “We have been there and can relate to what you are going through.”

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