The road to getting it right

Debbie Nolan reports back on CYCJ’s first roadshows, and why they’re about getting back what you put in…

A significant part of my decision to take a break from social work practice to take on the post of Practice Development Associate at CYCJ was that I would be able to use my practice experience and develop further my interests in theory and research to work with, provide training to, and support practitioners at a national level and engage those practitioners in discussions and debates on how this influenced practice and the current challenges facing them. If you like, this would be my way of contributing to practice, improving outcomes for young people and ‘giving something back’ to those practitioners who work with some of our greatest but most challenging young people without being on the frontline. I was therefore very excited to co-facilitate the first of the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice roadshows.

As you may remember,we are taking the CYCJ on the road and last week our first three roadshows were held in East Ayrshire, Highlands and Moray. Over these sessions we provided training, free of charge and tailored to local needs, to 80 practitioners from a range of agencies including social work, residential child care, Police Scotland, NHS, education, the third sector and community learning and development. These sessions focused on the themes of:

  • Gender specific input; relational theory, relational aggression and resilience; working effectively with girls
  • Core skills in working with challenging young people
  • Social Media
  • Managing High Risk

In spite of some initial equipment issues and travel difficulties, the roadshows were well received and although more in-depth feedback will be sought, initial comments included:

“I could see the young people I am working with in what you were saying and this has really helped me to make sense of what I know and was thinking about them and how I can work more effectively with them”

“Sometimes trainers are really removed from practice but you really know where we are coming from”

“I have had a really good opportunity to reflect on my practice and revisit theory”

The roadshows enabled some extremely interesting discussions and the multi-agency representation of participants allowed different roles, perspectives and thresholds to be explored. They also provided a great opportunity for participants to share practice wisdom, gain peer support and network.

However, CYCJ staff got a lot back from the roadshows too, not just in terms of sharing our learning and talking about the subjects we are passionate about, but in further discussing practice realities and challenges. Some of the many interesting points for further discussion and exploration included:

  • Concerns about the extent and multi-agency response to Child Sexual Exploitation
  • How do we make our services and supports sustainable for and tailored to individual young people in the face of changing organisational structures, support services and financial constraints?
  • How do we work with young people who transcend the “victim”/”perpetrator” labels?
  • How do we make sure, whoever it may be that we are writing reports for, that we ultimately remember we are writing for our young person and pay attention to pejorative labels and the impact of language?
  • How do we work with and challenge elements of our system that can contradict the importance of forming and sustaining relationships with young people?

Further roadshows are already planned in Argyll and Bute, Borders and Shetland but if you would like us to provide a roadshow in your area (and give us the opportunity to gain some more food for thought) please get in touch! Send your details to

Look out for more roadshow details on our website and e-bulletin. 

About our blogger

Debbie Nolan’s background is in working with vulnerable and marginalised children and young people across sectors and in various roles. Read more.

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

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