It’s strange, and when I come to think of it very strange, that it never occurred to me in England or Scotland, and that it was only when I was teaching in Penang, Malaysia that the penny dropped. Just a bit of background: since 2002 (that’s not long after the Webmag began) I have been … Read more
Dear readers, As I stated in my recent introduction, our aim is to grow the reach and influence of the webmag. The mission of the National Centre for Therapeutic Residential and Foster Care is: ‘to share knowledge about therapeutic residential and foster care for children and young people, and to support the use of reflective … Read more
Dear readers, I would like to thank Keith White, David Lane, and all the Children Webmag team for their dedicated work to establish and develop it since 2000. At this point of transition I feel it is a great privilege and honour to be taking over as Chair. I hold huge respect for the history … Read more
In this column I want to revisit the subject of attachment and loss not only in the light of my experience and reflection on what those who have lived at Mill Grove have shared with me, and the work of pioneers such as John Bowlby and D.W. Winnicott, but also using some of the insights … Read more
Dear Readers, It is my pleasure and privilege to inform you that Children Webmag is being transferred into new and very capable hands: the National Centre for Therapeutic Residential and Foster Care, located within the Mulberry Bush School. Having been associated with the Webmag from its very early days (March 2000) as a columnist, and … Read more
Yesterday evening one of the young adults who lives at Mill Grove asked me how my day went, and I replied in the usual East End vernacular, “O.K.” At his request I expanded briefly: “As full, varied and rich as every day at Mill Grove”. Which led me to attempt in this article to describe … Read more
It was a strange day not only by normal standards, but also for me, in that I spent it with people whose ages spanned 100 years. Yet on reflection I realised that some of the connections between the generations could not have been closer or clearer. In the afternoon I was with Ben, who is … Read more
For months now in the UK, possibly even years, we have grown accustomed to new revelations about how celebrities like Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter have abused children and young people. The label for what they have done is usually something sexual, from inappropriate or indecent behaviour to rape. There is revulsion at what they … Read more
In this article I want to describe the nature of two completely different, indeed antithetical cultures that affect the lives of children. Because culture is the air that children breathe, it infiltrates every aspect of their lives, their relationships, the space, the environment in which they grow up. This means that they will and must … Read more
As we enter a new year it is a time to look ahead with hope, and possibly longing. I do so having immersed myself in Jan Swafford’s biography of Beethoven, and try as I might I cannot find a way out of this enticing deep water unaided. So I will try by clutching at a … Read more
In the run up to Christmas this year I visited two members of the Mill Grove family: both of whom are in their late seventies. One was terminally ill and in a hospice, the other had suffered a series of strokes that had left him partly paralysed down the right side of his body. They … Read more
The last chapter of the book, The Growth of Love, is entitled “Villages and Compost Heaps”, and in this column I would like to come back to this theme once again. For the record I last wrote an In Residence column on the subject in June 2002 (It Takes a Village to Raise a Child). … Read more
When I began my research into residential child care at Edinburgh University in 1969 one of the pioneers whose work I discovered and cherished was Barbara Dockar-Drysdale. The place forever associated with her name is the Mulberry Bush School, Standlake, west of Oxford. For some reason, although I gone to see (and indeed stay in) … Read more
In August 2014 the extended family of Mill Grove enjoyed its 39th consecutive holiday in North Wales. Perhaps the anniversary would not have been so significant if I had not read John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps in recent months. Or perhaps this year’s stay was uniquely special. (Just for any new readers, Mill Grove is … Read more
A Scottish-flavoured batch of articles
Throwing stones has a long and chequered history. Examples that come to mind immediately include David’s heroic killing of Goliath, the throwing of stones by resistance or revolutionary movement against occupying forces, the use of stones as a method of execution, and the story of how Jesus intervened when a woman was about to be … Read more
The importance of life stories cannot be overstated. By life stories I mean the process in which a child, young person or adult tells in some consecutive or coherent age-appropriate way the narrative of their life to date. And implicit in this is the fact that someone who cares about them unconditionally has listened to … Read more
Over many years of observation it has become apparent to me that children and adults live and act for one of two fundamental reasons: because of choice, or because of an order. (By choice I mean that they act primarily out of free will, not because they have been specifically taught or ordered to undertake … Read more
It is well known that all the nations in the world apart from the USA and Somalia are signed up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. But from the very start there have been those of us who have wondered what it actually means in practice. Countries agree that … Read more
In the last week of March 2014 there were six of us together in North Wales. We called ourselves a work-party, and the purpose of our trip and stay was to attend to some of the repairs and maintenance required by the two houses belonging to Mill Grove in the picturesque seaside village of Borth-y-Gest. … Read more
My very first visit to Hungary was when I touched down in Budapest airport on Monday 17th February 2014. For many other passengers it seemed as if it was just another flight. But for me it was imbued with huge personal significance. The reason is that it was as a nine year old boy on … Read more
The Changes impact of surreptitious change.
Building friendships takes time: the implications for children in care.
The need to open one’s eyes to what is around
What are the constants in our lives? And how do they affect us?
The long-term unexpected rewards of coping with disability
And how sharing it makes life more enjoyable for children
What makes times special for individuals
She was holding a little baby, and smiled at me with a new-found confidence as she uttered those unforgettable words, “Now I am someone”. It was some time ago, and they have come back to me again and again over the intervening years. Now after a weekend in the presence of at least three mothers … Read more
Learning out of doors
Communicating emotions without words
Careful thinking and good practice can lead to successful outcomes.
How can we ensure that people are valued?
The need for space and risk in order to develop and learn
It takes time to judge whether intervention has been effective.
Every new arrival changes the community.
A message from harvest festivals, supermarket toilets and the Central Line
The importance of philosophy – even in England
“There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits; there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer.” Calvin Coolidge, 1924 We have just come back from North Wales where 50 members of the extended family of Mill … Read more
Grounding practice in recognising the individual
Finding oneself at home the other side of the world
It takes time to judge success.
Human development is more complex than the standard theories.
The child within the family, the family within the community.
The value of being alongside in between times
Telling a story and listening are both rewarding.
We seek security – and find it in different places.
A key factor that management and training systems seem to overlook.
Good practice is often thought-out concerned common sense.
It’s a million interactions, not a grand plan.
Looking for the chinks that could open into possibilities for personal growth
Security depends on mattering to someone, in the long term.
Is it? Time for some careful thinking
Reviewing and re-interpreting the past can help one move forwards.
And how do you put it into practice?
Home-grown services that meet children’s needs.
Between idealistic policies and the suffering of children in India.
What are the fundamental concepts which should underpin our work?
Social networks matter at key change points in children’s lives.
Coming to terms with hurt is not a short-term fix.
The importance of links across the generations and of ‘family’ connections
Use your judgement – as a responsible adult or as a child
For holidays, for life, for the future of mankind
Every child adds to the social dynamics of its family
Do we undermine the value of the meta-family in meeting children’s needs?
The messages that records give – and fail to give
Asking questions, seeking answers and being prepared to learn
Two wrongs may not make a right, but two problems may solve each other.
How recognition moulds relationships and identities