Relational Practice: Session Two Resources

Relational Practice: Session Two Resources

Information and Overview:

Session 2 started off with an opportunity for projects to continue building relationships and share their project plans with each other, including a conversation on what support they would like from the programme and each other. Building on the introduction of the Relational Universe as a metaphor to show the interconnection between people, we had invited Claire Baker from Coram Voice to share insights from their Bright Spots research around care experienced children and young people’s well-being. She highlighted what makes life good for young people and focussed particularly on why it is important that we think about interdependence rather than independence.

One of the key findings from Bright Spots is that trusting relationships are hugely important to young people and that we need to focus more on how we can help young people maintain existing and form new relationships – with their families, with professionals including carers, and with their peers. Claire also emphasised the role of friendships as a protective factor for young people’s well-being. She also highlighted how being connected to a range of different groups could help young people avoid feeling isolated.

So, what might it look like when we support care experienced young people around interdependence? Claire suggested that it would mean widening the focus from preparing for independence towards strengthening relationships. Interdependence does include building independence skills. However, it requires us to consider the young person as a relational human being and to ensure that transition plans are underpinned by a relational focus, rather than a technical or logistical exercise. There are great examples of family group conferencing for care leavers, peer support groups for care experienced young parents and mentoring projects that reflect such a perspective. Similarly, hubs for care experienced young people offer the potential not just to direct young people to services but to do so in a more relational way.

To further underpin Claire’s powerful contribution, we introduced the group to the concept of the Relational Navigator proposed by Penny Jane Burke, Claire Cameron and colleagues in this journal article. As a framework to widen participation for care experienced young people to address institutional stigmatisation, the Relational Navigator builds a supportive relationship. This is to help a young person make sense of complex systems and transitional processes. For instance when they start further or higher education, become a parent, or move into a new place. Any of these new experiences aren’t merely about navigating new processes but also building new relationships. By journeying together with the young person, the Relational Navigator can ensure they develop a sense of belonging – and that these systems are inclusive environments for care experienced young people.



The session concluded with time for reflection and time to think. Focusing on how each project felt, they could strengthen interdependence and act as Relational Navigators for their care experienced young people. Feedback from participants included the following reflections:

  • ‘Reviewing policies with young people, focus on interdependence.’
  • ‘I will look at embedding how I can be a relational navigator when supporting young people.’
  • ‘Young people define their own well-being and happiness. It is not defined by professionals.’
  • ‘Who are important to young people? Why are they important? Are these relationships positive? How can they be supported to be more positive?’
  • ‘How do we demonstrate love in our practice to support young people as they grow and learn?’
  • ‘So many great people wanting to practice in a relational way, collectively we can make a difference.’


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