Mothers in recurrent care proceedings : how do we break the cycle?

Published by:

Mothers in recurrent care proceedings : how do we break the cycle? 

Family Law Class 20th October Bristol Civil Justice Centre

The event will take place on 20th October at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre from 4.30 – 6pm.

Tickets are free and open to any one with an interest in this subject. Places will be limited so please contact Emma Whewell at to book your ticket. Please mark your email as ‘Family law event 20th October’.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr Karen Broadhurst who has been carrying out important research into why some mothers are so vulnerable to repeated care proceedings and removal of successive children
  • Sally Jenkins of Newport Council who will discuss the development of their recent programme of help and support for vulnerable mothers
  • Dr Freda Gardner will discuss the importance of early therapeutic intervention
  • Surviving Safeguarding, a parent and campaigner, will discuss some issues of concern she has about the types of intervention proposed for mothers

Presentations will finish approx 5.10pm and discussion will then open to the floor. We are keen to get a conversation going about what works well and what could work better to help these mothers, with a particular view to developing programmes of intervention in the Bristol area.


Poetry Competition Winners!

Published by:

Finally, we are able to announce the winners of the poetry competition, thank you for bearing with us.

A huge thank you to everyone who entered and also to our three judges Helen Andrews, court manager, Elinor Bagenal from Chicken House books & the Honourable Mr Justice Baker.

The top 3 in each category are listed below and the winning poems are also set out in full below.

Poems written by children

Winner: Melanie McCabe – Two Roads
Second: Igi Waugaman Reed – My Mummy is a lawyer
Third: Jamie Houlden-Soan – Stars

Poems written by adults

Winner: Roger Zair – Family Outing
Second: Christopher Sharp – An Epiphany
Third: Dornford Roberts – One Hundred Ants

Two Roads by Melanie McCabe

I see two paths to old age; somewhere I do not want to go
But the beast chasing assures me that I cannot linger
I cannot turn back, I must go ever on
But on which path? The decision is eternal

One path is labelled ‘success’, one ‘failure’.
One is paved in gold, the other in mud.

Hearing the breath of the beast behind,
I see world-wide acclaim.
I see fame, glory, wealth.
I see a place in the history books.
I see me, admired and envied by all.
I see success.

Blinded by gold, I fail to notice the signs have been switched.

My feet aching from the hard metal underfoot,
I see working for a meaningless goal.
I see my comfort in cold metal and the mindless love of people who do not know me.
I see striving to please something that does not exist.
I see me, someone I do not admire or envy.
I see failure.

Family Outing by Roger Zair

We got to the station
in good time for the train,
heaved our suitcases
the length of the platform:
I must have been five.

Because we were early
we sat on a bench.
Porters shouting, engines shunting,
clanking and whistling and steam:
I didn’t mind waiting.

I’d eaten my sandwiches
when the tannoy announced
our train cancelled, a breakdown.
So we all came home with our cases:
and I asked if we could do that again.


Public Debate 21 July 2016 : The motion: ‘Our child protection system is too risk averse’

Published by:

A public debate will be held on 21 July 2016 at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre

The motion will be : ‘Our child protection system is too risk averse’

The debate will be chaired by HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC with the kind permission of the President of the Family Division. It has been heavily supported by UWE.

The debate will take place between 4.30 p.m. and 6.10 p.m. in Court 17 at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre, 2 Redcliff Street, Bristol. BS1 6GR

Speaking in favour of the motion (that our child protection system is too risk averse) will be Anthony Douglas, The Chief Executive of Cafcass and Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. Speaking against the motion will be Susan Jacklin QC. There will be a panel of experts who, also, will speak briefly in relation to the motion and then questions and points of view will be sought from the audience.

There is no charge for this event however there are clear ground rules in relation to it which are available here and which will be made available to each person attending.

If you would like to attend please book here. There are limited places available so you are advised to book early. If you do book a place and cannot attend please email or arrange for a substitute to take your place.


Poetry Competition update

Published by:

A huge thank you for submitting entries of your own or on behalf of others for the competition.

The (extended) closing date was 30 April and the next step is to present the poems to our judges. All the entries will be redacted so the judging is anonymous.

The judging panel comprises:

Helen Andrews – Operations Manager at the Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre
The Hon Mr Justice Baker – Family Division Liaison judge for the Western Circuit
Elinor Bagenal – Rights Director at Chicken House Books

We hope to be able to announce the winners in early June.

Thank you all again for your poems, we had a great response.

DFJ News News


Published by:

His Honour Judge Wildblood QC (Designated Family Judge for this area) will chair a debate about non consensual adoption on :

April 27th at the Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre from 4.30- 6.30pm

Four barristers will present the arguments both for and against, followed by brief presentations from a diverse panel of experts. The debate will then open to the floor and at the conclusion all will vote.

Speaking for non-consensual adoption : Kathryn Skellorn QC and Zahid Hussain

Speaking against non-consensual adoption : Frances Judd QC and Lucy Reed

The barristers have agreed to assist in the presentation of the arguments for and against non-consensual adoption as a springboard for discussion, and the arguments they present do not necessarily represent their personal views. The barristers were allocated roles in the debate having agreed to participate.

This event is open to all and is free of charge but places are limited and you will need to book your place in advance here, via the UWE website.

We expect demand for this event to be high. In the event that you cannot make it PLEASE email Emma Whewell at UWE ( so your place can be reallocated.

Please read the GROUND RULES for this event – they are what makes it possible for the organisers to run events of this sort and all participants are expected to stick to them.

DFJ News News

Poem Competition to raise funds for litigants / parents

Published by:

His Honour Judge Wildblood QC is running a competition for the best ten poems for children, with the intention of seeing if funds can be raised for the Personal Support Unit and for the provision of early therapeutic intervention for young parents.

If you or someone you know would like to enter the competition please send the poem or poems to Paul Bryson of the Personal Support Unit at Bristol@the, marked ‘for Paul Bryson, poetry competition’.

Poems can be written by adults or children but should be intended to be read by children aged between five and thirteen. They may be any length and must be the original work of the person on whose behalf they are sent. The closing date is 31st March 2016.

Mr Justice Baker and Ms Helen Andrews (the court manager at Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre) have kindly agreed to judge the poems, after a sift if necessary, and will identify the best ten. We will then see if we can get them published in order to raise funds.


Free Family Law Session 20 Jan 2016

Published by:

Free Family Law Session 20th January 2016

Wednesday 20th January 2016
6.30pm – 8.00pm (tea/ coffee from 6.00pm)

Venue: University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, BS16 1QY (easily accessible by road, rail and bus)

Following the success of the first free family law session at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre in October of last year, a second free Bristol family law session is planned to take place on Wednesday 20 January 2016 from 18:00-20:00 at the University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol.

The event is aimed at anyone interested in finding out more about the Family Court, all professionals working in the field of family law, journalists and students.

Join HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC, designated family judge for the Bristol area, and a panel of experts to hear about the work of the Family Court and what to do if you are faced with a personal or family disagreement.

Following feedback from the first event, new topics and speakers have been added and the question and answer session will be extended to promote further debate.

The topics covered will include:

  • How to access help and support if faced with a personal or family disagreement
  • The role and work of the Social Worker
  • The role and work of the Guardian
  • How decisions are made about children

You will have an opportunity to ask questions about the practice of the Family Court. The panel of experts will include:

  • HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC, Designated Family Judge
  • Sarah Stott, Cafcass
  • Patrick Moreno, Senior Lecturer at UWE, specialising in children’s social work
  • Louise Tickle, Journalist
  • Judi Evans, Barrister, St John’s Chambers
  • Lucy Reed, St John’s Chambers
  • Sarah Phillimore, St John’s Chambers
  • Zahid Hussain, Barrister, St John’s Chambers
  • Emma Whewell, Senior Lecturer in Law, UWE

Register now

You may apply for a place here.

Registration and refreshments will be available from 18:00. The event will start at 18:30 and finish at 20:00.

For more information visit; the site is aimed at people who are involved in or may be involved in a case in the Family Court in this area (Bristol, Weston, Gloucester and Bath). It sets out the range of help that is available locally, and provides basic information about how the Family Court works.

Information about parking etc is on the UWE site.

Cost: Free
Contact: Emma Whewell
Telephone: +44 (0)117 328 3897


Bailiff service of domestic violence injunctions

Published by:

Where somebody applies for a non-molestation or occupation order (domestic violence injunction) but they don’t have a lawyer, the court bailiffs will usually serve the order on the person who it relates to on their behalf. The bailiffs at Bristol ask if you can provide a photograph when you come to court to help them identify the person they are trying to serve. An injunction is not effective until it is served.