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Looking Ahead Event

10 September 2019

On Thursday 29th August, we opened our doors to key stakeholders for a day of reflection, conversation and collaboration. We had contributions from young people, families and staff from the Good Shepherd Centre along with professionals who are involved in the lives of young people here, and decision makers including colleagues from Scottish Government.

Back in 2014, we held a symposium to share our approach and work. At that event attendees heard from Dr David Burton, Welltree, who had co-ordinated what was ground breaking research involving over 140 young people who had lived at the Good Shepherd Centre in the two years prior to the event. We involved key people in responding to that research and in later shaping our 2017-2020 Service Improvement Plan (SIP). Five years on, it was time to reflect on all that we’ve learned from our young people and what we’ve achieved since then.

Alison Gough, Director of the Good Shepherd Centre chaired the day which took a ‘Journey’ approach. Alison opened the event with some reflections on what has been achieved and what has changed during the 2017-2020 Service Improvement Plan.


In her talk Alison described how the Good Shepherd Centre has developed a ‘Hope Framework’ and ways of working to best support young people who have experienced extreme challenges and difficulties in their lives.

She went on to comment on the Welltree research that led to Good Shepherd Centre developing this ‘Hope Framework’ and ‘Curriculum for Hope’, including the Good Shepherd Centre’s key role in the Talking Hope research project and the development of draft national standards for secure care in Scotland in 2018 and 2019.

She said “Stuart Mulholland and Welltree have been providing consultancy support to the Good Shepherd Centre for over a decade and long before the 2014 symposium, both Welltree and Dr Anne McKechnie, Consultant Forensic Clinical Psychologist, who provides a specialist consultancy service for our young people and our staff one day per week, were supporting the staff team at Good Shepherd Centre to recognise; to understand and; to respond to the levels of trauma and psychological distress that young people who arrive in secure care have experienced.

It seems almost unthinkable but as recently as the 2000s, there was very little understanding or recognition in Scotland, of young people’s rights and needs in relation to trauma, when those young people were young people who the Children’s Hearings System or Courts decided should be secured.”

Alison reflected on the national picture now, and how collectively; policy makers and decision makers are beginning to really understand more and more about the connections between hope, and people’s capacity to cope with difficulties and manage risks. She highlighted the journey the Good Shepherd Centre is on to explore what we need to do new and differently to make sure that young people always experience a rights based, compassionate and nurturing living and learning environment. Alison then introduced an edited audio of a half hour interview with Stuart Mulholland, Director and Child Care Consultant at Welltree. Stuart Mulholland Podcast


We were delighted to introduce visitors from Dublin; Ballydowd Special Care Unit was the first of its kind in Ireland and opened in 2010. Pol MagAoidh, Deputy Director, Marie Caul, Deputy Social Care Manager and Theresa Lynch, Social Care Leader spent the day with us and Pol and Marie delivered a really interesting presentation about the ‘journey’ they are taking at Ballydowd in relation to a least restrictive approach to day to day living. During their presentation, Marie and Pol described how they have reviewed all areas of day to day living at Ballydowd through the lens of a rights based and trauma informed approach, asking themselves why are we doing what we do? And looking at all of their restrictive practices, from when and why doors are locked within the secure care houses, to young people’s access to mobile phones and internet, to personal searches and more.


Delegates then got an insight into the impact the experience of secure care and close support can have on young people and families. We showed a film made by a young person who recently left the Good Shepherd Centre sharing his story, along with 2 videos from parents who had wanted to take part in the day but couldn’t attend in person.

This led into a Q&A session with a Panel made up of staff and senior Managers from the Good Shepherd Centre and independent Consultant Forensic Clinical Psychologist, Anne McKechnie who provides a specialist consultancy service for our young people and our staff one day per week. Panel members reflected on their own individual journeys and experiences in terms of developing practice at Good Shepherd Centre and a conversation then opened up with Pol and Marie on shared themes, challenges and opportunities.


Next on the agenda we heard ‘lightening talks’ from 3 Managers at the Good Shepherd Centre. They had been given the tricky and challenging task of responding in 3 minute talks to the topic:

“The Good Shepherd Centre was the first residential care service to add an ‘H’ for Hope into the SHANARRIH domains, back in 2015. What does ‘hope’ mean to you in your work?”

First up was our Wellbeing Support Service Manager, Joan Hodgkiss, followed by Natalie Connell, House Manager who leads on our welcome and assessment work with young people when they arrive here, and lastly our Depute Head of Education, Leona Donnelly.

Lightening Talks Presentations

There was a lot of thought provoking information shared during the different inputs and we felt it was crucial to capture people’s views and feelings about what they were thinking so far. We used Mentimeter to allow them to share this with everyone else in the room.

We asked them “How are you feeling after all you have heard so far?”

A lot of people recorded feeling “Hopeful” for young people and the future, whilst for some people the emotional impact of the morning’s content was obvious with one of the delegates commenting that they were “Struggling to hold it together at times”. Another shared “Pleased that young people have so many supportive people involved in their care” and one reflecting on the changes at Good Shepherd Centre that it’s “Time to make changes in my own organisation”

Before lunch we split into 3 groups, and ran three discussion and demonstration groups, which each took place three times – once before lunch and twice after lunch. This meant that everyone who was involved got chance to take part in each of the groups. After the first workshop we had lunch which included homemade soups (the Leek and Potato soup made with vegetables grown by young people in our garden) and home baking, and sweet treats including macaroon again made with potato from our garden, and tablet.

Each of the three themed discussion and demonstration groups focused on an aspect of the Good Shepherd Centre experience and practice, and young people were involved in developing the content as well as physically on the day.

Workshop 1 - Putting it into words: the power of language

This was a discussion workshop exploring the impact of spoken and written language within secure care and close support settings; and the co-production work happening with young people at the Good Shepherd Centre to change and improve this. We held a Power of Words event on 16 August involving a whole centre assembly workshop approach, where young people shared their views and experiences of the words adults and other young people use in care and secure care settings and the helpful or unhelpful impact this can have on how people feel and relate to each other. Young people’s contribution had informed the worksheets that we used during this group discussion, and participants also had a chance to comment on current work here in relation to differing speech, language and communication needs and the use of visual tools in communication. The workshop concluded with a viewing of a film clip from our G in the Park event in July, where a choir of young people and staff sang ‘This is Me’ together whilst holding up messages about the power of positive language.


Workshop 2 - It’s in our nature to nurture

This was a highly interactive and experiential workshop sharing the nurturing approaches including holistic therapies that we offer at the Good Shepherd Centre. Participants attending the workshop literally ‘hopped’ and skipped along a marked out pathway into the space, and once there they could enjoy healthy snacks, hand massage, aromatherapy, and soothing sounds and relaxation techniques. The multi-disciplinary workshop facilitators included our Holistic Therapist and one of our young people, and the aim of the workshop was to show how creative changes in lighting, seating and sound and smells can create a nurturing and therapeutic environment even in the least promising of physical spaces. Our young people really value and enjoy the holistic therapies we offer and feedback from participants suggested they did too!

Workshop 3 - Interactive tour

In this workshop, our young tour (and not so young!) tour guides aimed to share what life is like at the Good Shepherd Centre. Four young people made films about different aspects of day to day living and learning at Good Shepherd Centre and so whilst not a physical tour of the campus, participants ‘toured’ the houses, cottages, Education Department and gardens, seeing the centre through their eyes. One of our Young Tour Guides delivered a fantastic presentation in person about the various garden, orchard, planting and wildlife nature trail projects ongoing and what this has meant for them in terms of the benefits of being outside and working and learning outside.


After the workshops, we used Mentimeter again to ask “What one word or phrase sums up your reflections on the demonstrations and discussion groups?”

Several words that repeatedly came up were,

Inspiring”, “Refreshing”, “Hopeful and Excited”.

Our final session of the day was an introduction to the whole centre approach the Good Shepherd Centre is taking to embedding the mental Health and Wellbeing in Education SQA award, an international first which was developed by us. Shelley Buckley, Subject Implementation Manager for SQA and a qualified social worker and teacher who we have engaged as a consultant to support us with this, and Anne McKechnie, Consultant Forensic Clinical Psychologist, delivered a presentation which described the background to the award. Shelley then talked through the content of the award and our plans to engage every staff member in every role across the Centre in parts of the programme.

Suzanne Faulkner, who is a Lego Serious Play facilitator; explained the goal is to improve creative thinking and communication, through ‘builds’ with Lego. Suzanne facilitated a serious of fun and thought provoking ‘builds’ with Lego bricks making 3-dimensional models to express ideas and metaphors about people’s vision for the future followed by people sharing the stories about their models with the room.

Feedback and next steps…

Throughout the day artist Graham Ogilvie captured the words and ideas people shared; and brought them to life through his incredible artwork.

Graham’s company Ogilvie design pride themselves on providing unique artwork based methods for sharing delegate information and feedback and in conjunction with the feedback gathered via mentimeter, worksheets and feedback walls in the demonstration and discussion groups. We will now be able to refer to the powerful and engaging artworks as we inform the development of our next Service Improvement Plan (SIP).

So we gathered feedback in lots of different ways and also on film. Jaqui McAlpine, our videographer for the day, was accompanied by our very own roving Young Reporter, and they captured the day on film and interviewed some of the delegates to get their thoughts and opinions.

“Delicious mash, thanks to @GSCBishopton”

- Debbie Nolan, CYCJ

“Thank you to the wonderful young people at @GSCBishopton who gave me some home grown potatoes! They made LOVELY mash!”

- Rosie Moore, Independent Care review

At the end of the day we said thank you and safe home to our guests by gifting them with potted herbs, grown and potted by our young people, along with potatoes that they had grown in the garden. This went ‘down a Tweet!’ with several people sharing pictures of their potato dishes on social media.