On 28-29 November 2016, professionals from around Europe met in Linköping to gather inspiration to launch an innovative way to support child victims of violence in their own countries.
The innovation is called the Barnahus. In the Nordics, this multi-disciplinary and interagency service model forms an integral part of the welfare and judicial system. It provides support to child victims and witnesses to violence, giving them access to justice, avoiding re-victimisation and ensuring recovery. The Barnahus model was founded in Iceland in 1998 and the second ever Barnahus was launched in Linköping in 2005.
Barnahus puts the child’s story at the centre. In a child-friendly environment, the many sectors involved in a civil or criminal investigation work in coordination under one roof. This helps the child to be able to tell a complete story. When the story is recorded and submitted as evidence to a court proceeding, the child does not need to face the accused in court. As part of the process, victims have direct access to care and support services at the Barnahus.
At the meeting, HM Queen Silvia returned to Linköping, 11 years after inaugurating the first Barnahus in Sweden, to give her support to the European Barnahus movement. Her advocacy played a key role in the establishment of Barnahus in Sweden. The World Childhood Foundation, which The Queen founded, helped to establish Barnahus Linköping and continues to support the establishment of Barnahus around the world.
The conference and study visit took place over one and a half days, gathering practitioners, national authorities, NGOs and regional bodies from across Europe. The objectives of the conference include to facilitate regional exchange of good practice and to build a strong European movement for multi-disciplinary and inter-agency services, which embody international and regional legal obligations. The first day was dedicated to the conference, including presentations from key experts in the area. The second day was dedicated to a study visit at Barnahus Linköping.
The meeting was part of the PROMISE Project, co-funded by the European Union through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The co-organizers include Barnahus Linköping, Child Circle in Brussels, Belgium, and Linköping University. The meeting was additionally supported by the Barnahus in Stockholm and Iceland, the Verwey-Jonker Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and the Kenter Jeugdhulp in Haarlem, the Netherlands.