Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
An FGC is quite exciting for everyone involved!

Participants of an FGC very often mention how exciting the conference was, recounting the events. Not only at the start of a FGC process, but right upto the eventual gathering, people experience excitement. And I don’t just mean people from the personal network but also for the concerned professionals.

For example because for the first time they wll meet (more) family members and friends from the family or the young person for whom the conference was organized. Or perhaps because they were asked to give some explanation about the safety conditions for the plan. Recently, a youth counsellor was concerned that Manuel, wouldn’t even show up, a young man who was going to make a plan with 14 people from his network after many years of isolation.

And so it happened. One Sunday afternoon, at the start of the conference, everybody was present, except for Manuel. As usual the FGC-coördinator asked family and friends what they thought should be done. There was an argument because the Juvenile Court consultant, an aunt and an uncle of Manuel, wanted to cancel the conference. According to them, it was important to draw a line, as they had agreed in the past: Manuel was supposed to keep to his agreements otherwise they wouldn’t help him anymore.

The grandmother, Manuel’s sister and two of his friends, didn’t go along with them. Others doubted…it was a heated discussion. The FGC-coordinator suggested that the family could debate on the subject privately, she would wait in an adjacent room, together with the consultant and the social worker, until they all reached a decision. The children went out to play because they found it all quite boring.

After a while one of the friends came out, with Manuel’s father. They set off to pick him up. “But”, they said, “we are not going to convince him, there’s no point”….The youth counsellor nearly joined them because he was worried and asked them to call him if they didn’t succeed…

Half an hour later, they were back, with Manuel. They went straight through to the room where the others were making small talk. And, although some of them had their doubts about the usefulness of the conference, everybody seemed relieved. The conference could eventually start off!

During private time, the counsellor told the FGC-coordinator that he had found it very exciting, that he had thought that the network would react fiercely when Manuel showed up, that there would be more friction…But he had also felt the relief and said: “I could see that Manuel was surprised how welcome he was..that feeling, that moment, I will never forget!”.


A story from Belgium

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