CONGRATULATIONS to the many PROMISE Barnahus Network members who attended the first Barnahus Forum in Stockholm 5 December 2022. We had a vibrant exchange of information, tools, contacts, and inspiration that will no doubt fuel your momentum in establishing Barnahus and achieving excellence in practice. A photo album from the day is ready, with some highlights presented below.
The feeling in the plenary was electric – this being the first time we could meet in person since launching the Network in 2019.
Child delegates from Bulgaria, Germany and Ireland interviewed Grzegorz Poznański, Director General, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat, and Bragi Guðbrandsson, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, initiator of the Barnahus model. Their conversation covered the past and future development of Barnahus, common challenges.
In her video address, Dr. Maalla Mjid, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children urged that quality matters, that standards must be updated to reflect the latest research into what works best in supporting child victims of violence, and that children’s views in this regard can be a source of inspiration and guidance within and beyond the member countries.
In her video address, Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, she thanked the members for their daily commitment to preventing and fighting violence, with and for children. She noted that the day’s discussions will give input to the European Commission’s work to support integrated child protection systems in member states. She also noted that a proposed EU center for preventing child sexual abuse can support the broader implementation of Barnahus.
In 16 breakout sessions, the members explored the role of Barnahus managers, considerations for scaling up Barnahus, children affected by armed conflict, adapting to online sexual abuse cases, children with harmful behavior, the importance of medical evaluations for every child, and much much more. With more than one third of the participants having an active role in one or more breakout sessions, this day really was by the members and for the members.
“This was a really inspiring and informative conference. The informal chats and comments from the floor during each session were as important as the presentations and prepared interviews.”
Several of the sessions put the ideas and inspiration from the day into action by gathering feedback on the Barnahus Quality Standards. Considering the fast pace of developments since the Standards were published in 2017, the members harnessed this opportunity to ensure that they remain clear, concise, and that important elements aren’t missing. Children also presented their feedback.
At the mingle, the choir from Stockholm’s Music High School performed a luciatåg, which carries on a tradition started at our first European Barnahus exchange in Linköping, Sweden in winter 2016. Members made memories at the photo booth, by building a PROMISE city with Legos, and other ice breaking and teambuilding activities.
“Yesterday’s conference for Barnahus in Europe really moved me. What a pleasure to be able to join this journey for several years now. Completely unimaginable how the Barnahus idea has spread to all corners of Europe. It warmed my heart to meet so many friends from our large Barnahus family.”
Some members managed to snag one of the limited spots on the highly coveted study visits to Barnahus Stockholm and Barnahus Linköping, which took place Tuesday. An excellent opportunity to continue networking, and to build on the knowledge and inspiration gained from the day.
In the days to come, the Network’s secretariat will be analyzing the notes to see what gaps in tools, experience, and knowledge that the Network should work to fill.
On behalf of all our members, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the children and youth, panelists, speakers, facilitators, moderators, rapporteurs, support staff, and all participants for making the Barnahus Forum a stand-out event that will lead to concrete improvements in services for child victims of violence throughout our member countries and beyond.
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