Monday, 10 June 2013

CRFR International Conference: day one

Twitter #CRFR2013

Sarah Cunningham Burley welcomed everyone to the conference, particularly the international delegates, and expressed hope that the conference should be a collaborative, open and sharing event, in the spirit of the CRFR’s own approach to research.

Co-director Lynn Jamieson encouraged delegates to reflect on the bigger picture that families and relationships research is part of, and to consider how research in this field contributes to socially useful knowledge. Lynn talked about the impact of research on the lives of the very people participating in research.

Families and relationships is, for some, on the margins of influencing social change, while for others it is central to bringing about social change. Many delegates at this conference are working to synthesise and bring together these perspectives, because we feel that our very humanness is constructed through our family and personal relationships. Lynn looked forward to the conference taking these discussions forward.

Lynn outlined three publication options available for those presenting during the three days:
·          Family, Relationships and Society Journal will be considering clusters of themes for publication
·         Special issue of international journal of child, youth and family studies, edited by Kay Tisdall and Jeni Harden
·         Graham Allen and  Lynn Jamieson will be editing a journal special issue and keen to look at issues at margins of families and relationships research – eg  climate change and the environment.

First keynote speaker was from Ghana, Glowen Kyei-Mensah gave a presentation of a participatory project to promote children’s rights and their own understanding and advocacy of their rights.
The project was set up in rural communities where the general view of children is that they should be seen and not heard. The project encouraged children to consider their rights and to advocate for them politely within their communities.

Glowen described how children were given a programme on a local radio station to voice their views and concerns and to learn about their rights and take part in action research projects. This helped them understand more about using evidence-based and informed opinion. Using their radio slot, they held elected representatives to account, interviewing and questioning them publicly, often asking questions that adults might be too timid to voice. Initial apprehension among parents about the project was put aside when they heard their children talking on the local radio station, knowing that this show was the most listened to and popular programme in the area.

As well as using the radio show, children used dance and drama as ways to communicate what they had learned about their rights both to adults and other children.

As well as increasing children’s confidence and knowledge of their rights, their advocacy brought some very tangible benefits. Children’s advocacy ensured that the unsafe, old boats they had used to cross a river to get to school were replaced by a more modern, safer boat. School attendance also increased. There was a 50% reduction in the number of children dropping out of school.

The project showed that when children held elected representatives and community leaders to account  - change happened.

Two packed paper session filled the afternoon slots - a full list of contributors can be seen on the conference website

Tweets with insights from sessions are here #CRFR2013

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