The Jersey Centre for Separated Families was formally launched on 27th February at the Royal Yacht Hotel in St Helier.  Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham and ex Children’s Minister, spoke at the launch about the need for community based services and the importance of ensuring that the needs of mothers and fathers going through separation are met.

A gathering of around fifty participants, from organisations working with families across Jersey, were present to hear speeches and presentations and take part in workshops.  It was a lively and fascinating day, bringing together the best of local knowledge and expertise which is now linked in to the National Network for Separated Family Centres which is governed by our online Family Separation Hub.

Those of you regular readers will remember that last year I wrote a blog called ‘Imagine if’…this blog concentrated upon the possibilities of working together with other like minded people and the difference that such a network could bring to the lives of separated families.  Well that network is now real and our Jersey Centre is launched and already serving the needs of families on the island, using whole family strategies to build and maintain co-operative relationships after separation.

The Jersey Centre is built upon the model developed on the Isle of Wight and joins Isle of Wight Separated Families as another community based support service which delivers support to the whole family using local expertise and knowledge.  We have new Centres in the making and will add the Midlands, North West, South West, London and, we hope, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland  to our network in 2014/15,  all of which will stream information to and from the online hub, making best practice across the country widely available.

And all of this without the need for government funding, which frees us to deliver these services in ways that meet the different needs of mothers and fathers without being constrained by the cognitive dissonance that is a feature of the large charities which sit around government.  Charities which, for example, whilst purporting to deliver support to help parents collaborate, are, at the same time, signatories to the campaign to effectively destroy the changes to the Children Act that Tim Loughton proposed on entering his post as Children’s Minister.  Relate, One plus One, Resolution, all funded in the millions by the DWP’s disastrous help and support for separated families campaign, all signatories to the Coram campaign to kill the proposed changes to the wording in the Children Act 1989.  If anyone can tell me what sense it makes for a government to try and make a significant change to policy and practice whilst funding the very charities which stand against those changes, I would welcome the explanation.  For now however, let’s just say that I am happier than I have ever been in my working life, to know that from our imagination, we have brought to life the very services we know will change lives.  And it is only the beginning.

Little did those wonderful women on the Isle of Jersey know that in their determined and focused work with us back in July of last year, they began a revolution in our hearts and minds. A revolution which has not only brought about change on their island but will bring about change across the UK as other people recognise that being the change that you want to see in the world is the very best way to live and work.  Many people have come forward keen to be part of our work and now that the Jersey Centre is launched our focus will be on the next steps, development of the online Hub and training for the next centres.

This initiative has been brought to you by the determination of the people of Jersey and our belief that banging one’s head against insitutionalised walls is a pointless exercise.  Now that we are no longer doing that, our vision is clear and the outcomes are obvious.  It doesn’t take millions to deliver what people need and as Tim Loughton said on Thursday, it’s not rocket science either.  Away from the glare of the westminister disconnect,  the vision of whole family support, delivered in ways that value the importance of mothers AND fathers was quietly brought to life last week. And a way of thinking and working which brings a revolutionary change to the lives of families in ways that circumnavigate the blocks and barriers that continue to be placed in the way of collaboration, continues.

The others might pay lip service and pretend whilst all the while, behind the scenes they are working furiously to resist change.

Here, we are simply getting on and doing what we have always done, delivering services that work in ways that are accessible to the whole family.

Our thanks to Denise and her team on Jersey, (a remarkable woman leading an amazing team) for the dedication, determination and committment to bringing this service to life.  You are collectively inspiring in your understanding of the needs of the families that you work with.  You have indeed become the change that we wanted to see in the world

For more information see the links below

The Jersey Centre for Separated Families

Family Separation Hub

For news of more Centres joining our National Network, keep checking back at either of these links.