Family and Group Conferencing (FGC) is growing as an approach in adult social care and mental health services. It offers an inclusive approach in which people can plan for their support and/or recovery on their terms – alongside the family, friends and other people that matter to them.
Here is a video from Birmingham sharing the experience of the service there.
If you want to see the longer version, click on this link.
This video is a logical explainer of the process from an adult resident that brilliantly utilised an FGC.
I have championed FGC since I began my Social Work career in Children’s services ten years ago. I recognised the power of bringing people together and giving them an opportunity to make the decisions relating to the person they know best. By empowering the adult and their chosen network to tell professionals what they will do to address concerns and support the person to live a better life, we effectively turn meetings on their head! Adults and their chosen networks are the experts on their own situations, and if we work with and support their strengths, we are more likely to achieve a good outcome.
Kar-Man is a research assistant and peer researcher who works for CASCADE, Cardiff University and Birmingham University. She is involved in various research projects funded by NIHR-Family VOICE led by Jonathan Scourfield (Cardiff), FGC in Adult Social Care and Mental Health led by Jerry Tew (Birmingham), and a Nuffield Foundation-funded project on Parental Advocacy led by Clive Dias (Cardiff). She also collaborates with Royal Holloway University London, Exeter University, and the University of Sussex. Additionally, she holds multiple positions for the LB Camden, including Parent Advocate for Child Protection and Family Group Conferences and Coordinator of the Camden Family Advisory Board. She is a lay member of the Safeguarding Children Partnership. Furthermore, she is an activist and works for Relational Activism.
Birmingham City Council
Hello, I am Oliver Bassral and I work as an FGC Coordinator in Birmingham. I really enjoy this role as it gives me an opportunity to work with people to achieve outcomes that are real and relevant to them. I have observed the impact this can have on their lives and well being and it's nice to be able to work and be part of this process that provides so much choice and control to citizens of Birmingham.
London School of Economics
Michael is based at the London School of Economics and in the NIHR School for Social Care Research. He undertakes a range of research across social care, mental health social care, homelessness and dementia. He has particular interest in strengths-based working and integrated care, and generally in understanding the impact of complex interventions. He is also very active in developing research capacity across social care and links to practice.
Tim is a social worker, a local authority manager and a specialist in participatory methods. A researcher of empowerment models in social work with published writing on community approaches, he has collaborated with organisations to develop more inclusive practices, shining a light on ‘relational activism’ in our human services; meaning achieving change through informal relationships. He introduced Adult FGCs in the London Borough of Camden in 2014 and supports local and national development of this work in many different, unique and exciting ways.
An experienced FGC coordinator, Azara has facilitated many hundreds of FGCs throughout her career, empowering families to take responsibility and create action plans that promote the best possible outcomes for the individuals in need of support. Azara has dedicated the majority of her time to the London Borough of Camden where she has made a significant impact. Prior to her work in Camden, she gained valuable experience working in the Greenwich area. In addition to her primary role, Azara has demonstrated her commitment to expanding her expertise by supporting other FGC services throughout the UK through supporting networks and delivering workshops. By expanding her expertise to include adult FGCs, Azara displayed her determination to make a difference and go the extra mile for those in need, irrespective of their age or life stage.
University of Birmingham
Phil is a Senior Lecturer in Health Economics at the University of Birmingham, where he has worked since 2012. Phil is interested in identifying both the costs and benefits of health and adult social care services. With this information, decision makers can decide how best to spend their budgets – which services they feel offer good value for money and are of benefit to individuals and to society. Phil works on a range of research projects that are funded by the National Institute for Health and Social Care Research.
University of Birmingham
Lefan joined the research team in July 2023. She is a Research Fellow (Health Economics) at the University of Birmingham, working under the supervision of Dr Philipe Kinghorn. She has done research on mental health and household decision making and is interested in exploring people’s lifestyle and health behaviour change in response to chronic diseases. Lefan has a PhD in Economics from the University of Nottingham and will support the project by collecting the primary data and conducting the economic analysis.
University of Birmingham
Sharanya Mahesh is a research fellow at the University of Birmingham. She is an early-career researcher with a broad interest in studying practice models in adult social care. Her current research involves evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of strengths-based approaches such as Community-led support and FGC. Within the NIHR FGC project, Sharanya will provide overall research support and be actively involved in data collection and analysis.
University of Sheffield
Peter Marsh is Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Welfare at the University of Sheffield. He has, for many years, led research and development work in FGC in the UK and abroad. This work has often been closely involved with partner authorities, in particular Kent, and Camden. He is also a neighbourhood planner and a grandfather.
University of Edinburgh
Dr Mary Mitchell is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, Director of the Master in Social Work programme and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Qualifying as a social worker in 1998, Mary practised in children and family services until completing her PhD in 2018. Much of her research focuses on applied social work practice and outcomes within family support; child welfare, maltreatment, justice and recovery; children’s participation in decision making and multi-disciplinary working. Mary has research expertise in using mixed methods, realist evaluation, action research and case studies to explore the multi-dimensional nature of many practice problems. She has an international reputation as an expert on two specific child welfare models: Barnahus and Family Group Conferencing.
Social Research and Design
I have a role in the FGC research that recognises my experience of mental health issues. My interest in FGC stems from working with Jerry Tew on a two-year-long project exploring different models of family-focused interventions that support the re-ablement of adults living with long-term mental health problems. FGC was one of the approaches we investigated.
I’m now working on the strand of the current project focusing on gathering information from FGC coordinators and carrying out a literature review. Later this year I will be the lead researcher in Essex, one of the sites where we have permission to interview participants and practitioners in FGCs locally.
University of Birmingham
Jerry Tew is Professor of Mental Health and Social Work at the University of Birmingham.
I am a social worker by background and have led a number of research projects looking at family inclusive and strengths based ways of working. I am now leading a national research project looking at FGC in adult social care and mental health, exploring how it works and what difference it can make in people’s lives.
Birmingham City Council
I am a Social Worker, who recently joined the FGC Team as an Assistant Team Manager (Adult Social Care Directorate).
We have 6 fantastic in-house FGC Co-ordinators who cover our “super-diverse” city (and largest local authority in Europe)!
FGC was set up in BCC in 2019 to enhance our offer around strengths-based practice and we have seen some fantastic outcomes for citizens and their networks. We are excited to continue expanding and making a positive difference.
T K Vincent
I am passionate about FGC, Restorative Justice, Systemic Practice, and radical, human rights based social work. I am Harrow’s FGC Manager. As a consultant and grass roots researcher, I was a member of the advisory board for Coram’s randomised control trial of FGCs. Research in Practice published several of my good practice guidance and templates on the risk assessments of virtual and hybrid FGC. I am currently co-writing and co-editing a good practice guidance on Adult FGCs. I was a board member, mentor, trainer, and course creator for the London Coordinators Accreditation Programme for five years.
An older man had lived with dementia for three years before his wife who was his primary carer reported concerns that he had become disoriented and was starting to forget things.
Jerome recently received a referral from a GP who felt some of his patient's symptoms could be treated by addressing her relationship with her son. She lives with chronic pain. When Jerome reached out to her, she was apprehensive about interacting with a new professional.