‘Place and Space’ and Siblings within Kinship were the two key themes at the most recent meeting of the Community of Practice for Siblings.
Nearly 40 people from local authorities and organisations across Scotland, gathered at Victoria Quay in Edinburgh on Tuesday 5 December for the Community’s fourth in-person event.
The Community of Practice is a supportive, welcoming network that promotes the sharing of knowledge, learning from best practices, and the development of innovative approaches to support positive change for brothers and sisters. It is for change-makers across Scotland with an interest in building improvement, keeping the promise to brothers and sisters.
Those attending were welcomed to the event by Kate Richardson, Chair of the Stand Up For Siblings partnership, who set the scene for the day. Kim McPherson from Help2Tell then read a beautiful poem about the connections between brothers and sisters that do not lessen through separation. It is hoped this poem will be developed into a small hardback book for children.
Then the main part of the morning session focused on places and spaces that nurture positive family connections.
Facilitated by Selina Smyth and Jane Durham from Family Journeys, participants were split into four groups and encouraged to transform the rather corporate Government meeting room into a beautiful space for brothers and sisters to make connections. The Community planning group had taken along a variety of materials from toys to blankets and craft materials to use as resources to create warm, welcoming spaces. All those attending had also brought along an object or item that made them feel safe or special.
Tom Boyd from The Promise Scotland and a member of the Community planning group said: “It was a really interesting concept to explore, what could be done within a rather dry, corporate space. In reality, there are still too few beautiful places across Scotland where brothers and sisters are able to make connections, so it was amazing to see the creativity and commitment from everyone working to transform the room into something that could feel special. There were calm spaces and others full of fun and energy. Choice and flexibility were big themes. We ended up with four wonderful designs.”
Mark Hardy from AFKA (Association for Fostering, Kinship and Adoption Scotland) then gave an update on the soon to be published process-evaluation of STAR, Siblings Reunited. Mark outlined some of the key aspects that underpin why STAR is such a special space for children, young people, families and carers. STAR itself is in a stunning spot in the Fife countryside, but the evaluation points to the ways in which many different spaces and places can be made to feel special.
The focus of the afternoon’s session was supporting sibling relationships in kinship settings. Guest speakers for the afternoon were Anne Currie, kinship care consultant for KCASS and AFKA Scotland and Emma McKenna from Fife Council kinship support team. They spoke about the ways of fostering and building relationships between brothers and sisters in kinship settings and how much these relationships mattered to children and young people. There was a focus on important developments nationally in the approaches to supporting kinship care, and the broad and imaginative work of the Fife Kinship Care Team. The Community of Practice worked in groups exploring a case study, with much discussion about the ways in which important relationships for children and young people can be supported.
To end the day Laura Beveridge from The Promise Scotland led a reflective exercise with participants pairing up to explore their personal/collective stories of change to better nurture and support sibling and sibling-like relationships.
A massive thank you to everyone who attended the day. We look forward to seeing you at future events! Thanks also go to colleagues at the Scottish Government for providing the venue for the day.
If you want to know more about the Community of Practice for Siblings, you can read the latest newsletter or you are very welcome to join the Community of Practice’s next event which is online on 1 February. You can book your place here.
The Community of Practice is also building a map of important existing or planned activity across Scotland to support sibling and sibling-like relationships. If you are involved in a specific project or service, existing or planned, please help us build that map by providing some simple information here.
Future in person events are being planned, so watch this space for more information!