Online event 3 June 2020 – Tickets available now

The Mulberry Bush and Orb8 are presenting a half day online session titled ‘Re-thinking Foster Care: Therapeutic Approaches’ 

Date: Wednesday 3 June 2020

10.00 – 10.10 Brief Introductions

10.10 – 10.30 Jane Herd, Orb8: What makes fostering therapeutic?

10.30 – 11.00 Discussion

11.00 – 11.20 Harvey Gallagher, NAFP: Implications for sector development

11.20 – 11.50 Discussion

12.00 – 12.20 The Mulberry Bush: Training and reflective practice for foster carers

12.20 – 13.00 Discussion and Plenary: Where do we go from here?


To find out more and book a space, follow the link below

Video: Step Inside the Circle

This powerful video brings to life the correlation between complex trauma and a percentage of the prison population. In research published by the Ministry of Justice Research in 2012, drawing from a longitudinal study by Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR),  Overall, 24% (347 prisoners) stated that they lived with foster parents or in an institution, or had been taken into care at some point when they were a child. This compares, as shown in the same report with an earlier study of young offenders where 27% of young men (n=1,052) reported having spent some time in care. 

Twenty-nine per cent of SPCR prisoners stated that they had experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child. Women (53%) were more likely to report having experienced some sort of abuse than men (27%). Forty-one per cent of SPCR prisoners said that they had observed violence at home as a child. This scenario is, unsurprisingly, international, which is commented on in the following research.

From trauma to incarceration: exploring the trajectory in a qualitative study in male prison inmates from north Queensland, Australia (2016)

Bronwyn Honorato, Nerina Caltabiano & Alan R. Clough


There is evidence that childhood trauma is a determinant of aggression in incarcerated populations. For example, in an Italian study of 540 prisoners, Sarchiapone et al. (2009) suggested that childhood trauma represents a developmental determinant that may interact with genetic factors to predispose prisoners to aggression. Further study is required, however, to generalize these findings to the wider, non-forensic, mixed-gender population. Additionally, Carlson and Shafer (2010) studied the trauma histories and stressful life events of 2279 inmates in Arizona, United States of America (USA). They found high rates of exposure to traumatic events, especially child abuse, across gender and ethnic groups. Other research shows youth involved in the criminal justice system typically have extremely high rates of trauma exposure from early life (Dierkhising et al. 2013; Ko et al. 2008). Furthermore, incarceration itself holds the risk of continued trauma and abuse, with traumatized youth more likely to reoffend as a juvenile or an adult, and to have poor long-term economic, academic and mental health outcomes (Justice Policy Institute 2009; Widom and Maxfield 1996).

This strong correlation between Early childhood trauma, other Adverse Childhood Experiences and incarceration needs urgently to be addressed. The path into the Justice System for those that have experienced complex trauma, is costly for the state as well as the individual, leaving aside these likelihood of PTSD, drug and alcohol dependence, mental health problems (including Dissociative Identity Disorder and depression). Please join IRCT and help to change minds and mindsets to promote more effective assessment, long term interventions, understanding of childhood trauma and better outcomes.

Children worry too!

Parents have a lot to worry about at the moment; protecting their families from Coronavirus, keeping their jobs, money, having enough food to put on the table etc and now the children aren’t in school, but need to carry on with school work at home and be entertained while parents have to work from home as well. With so much to worry about, it’s easy to see how parents might forget that children worry too.

Many children are frightened and traumatised by what they are hearing about the virus.

The problem is that children usually act out their worries rather than putting them into words. Worried children are often attention seeking, demanding, defiant and whine or regress in their behavior. This can be too much for already over-burdened parents who may well respond with anger and place children at risk.


Safeguarding children is a job for all of us. Call for help if you think it is needed.

Children’s book publisher Nosy Crow have released a free information book explaining the coronavirus to children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler. The book is recommended for age 5-9.

You can view and download the book here

IRCT ONLINE AGM (Report & Accounts year ending 30 November 2019)

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we had to cancel our AGM on the 27th March 2020, but do still need to file the IRCT Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 30th November 2019 with Companies House and the Charity Commission. We have until the beginning of August this year to do this.

The Annual Report and Accounts are ready for sign off by the Trustees and Members of the Charity, but due to the cancellation of the AGM this could not be done.

Companies House has recently said to all companies with the same problem that we can hold the AGM;

  1. By phone
  2. Using proxy voting
  3. Holding the AGM online

We have decided to hold the AGM online and will send Members the Annual Report and Accounts together with a link to vote on Tuesday 14th April 2020 with casting votes made by 24th April 2020.

More details will be sent to Members via email.

Thank you again for your continued support and cooperation during these challenging times.

Coronavirus: Stay Home! Stay Safe?

These are traumatic times for all of us, adults and children, but for those who have suffered complex trauma historically even more difficult to cope with. With social distancing now essential to stop the spread of the virus we are all suffering the risk of increasing social isolation with less access to support services.

HOME IS NOT ALWAYS A SAFE PLACE Stay Home! Stay Safe! has become a mantra for well-being but it is important to remember that children are particularly vulnerable now that they are forced to stay at home all the time and have no access to friends and safe, supportive adults at school.

Parents worried about protecting their family from a deadly infection are juggling working from home with childcare and foraging for food in supermarkets with bare shelves together with mounting financial uncertainties and job insecurity. Not surprisingly tensions are rising and sadly this increases the risk of domestic violence.

We all need strategies for coping with the increased stresses associated with dealing with the Corona Virus outbreak. When adults are worried it is easy for them to forget that children worry too and need to be reassured and for things to be explained to them. They need to know that their parents are managing things and will be there to keep them safe. To achieve this, parents need advice and support themselves.

Here are some useful links to help you support and advise your clients (click to go to PDF)

Corona Virus & UK Schools Closures_Support & Advice for Schools and Parents_Carers

Division of Education and Child Psychology (DECP British Psychological Society)

Talking to Children about Corona Virus_British Psychological Society


Here are two self-care videos for yourself and those caring for children, made by Stephanie Hunter, Psychological Therapist CAMHS Sunderland IRCT Regional Adviser

SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN IS A JOB FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. If you have any concerns about the safety and well being of any child then call for help from Social Services / Police / NSPCC / Child Line

‘Lost Voices’ – A follow-up report

Following the recent Best Practice Forum which featured how the voices of children are not heard and how we can learn from them to improve our practice we are pleased to bring to your attention the following report with feedback from children in care and ideas for improving our practice.

Read the full report here.

Kinship Care: is it time for a national debate?

Kinship care is when family members or friends take on the care of children who, for many different reasons, are unable to remain living at home with their parents. Kinship care comes in different shapes and sizes. A child with kinship carers may not need to enter the formal care system, they may live with a friend or family member who has been approved as a foster carer. In whatever form it takes, it’s an important and valuable route to settled, permanent care for many children.

Despite this, two reports published in late 2019 highlighted the issues facing those who provide kinship care.  The Family Rights Group published their report ‘The highs and lows of kinship care’ sharing the experiences of more than 800 kinship carers, as well as the charity Grandparents Plus publishing its ‘State of the Nation 2019 Survey Report’.
More than a thousand carers responded to this survey. The survey questions focused on the point at which friends or family become kinship carers. The findings vividly describe the uncertainty, confusion and a general lack of support felt by many new kinship carers. This is despite the vast majority of carers (75%) stating that professionals outside of the family asked them to take on the responsibility. This was often at a time of crisis.

Family for Every Child explores this critical issue in the new report, The Paradox of Kinship Care.
This report examines the growing use of kinship care, including it’s value and support needs for safe and effective use. The report argues that there is an urgent need to increase support to children living with relatives or friends of their family, with key recommendations made for national governments, donors and UN agencies.

Read the full report here