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www.cedarnetwork.org.uk. Towards Recovery

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Towards Recovery

“I think we can move on and be happy…I think that you can be happy and make your own future. And you can make your kids happy even though they have been through a bad experience from the beginning of their life, you can make the rest of their life pretty happy or try to make it as happy as possible “. (Adeline)

It’s a place where you can relax a wee bit and just talk about it slowly, you’re not having to be in a rush, or you’re not like tied with an adult, like trying to push you on (boy 16 yrs)

I got to know other people that I didn't know before, and then they’re going through the same troubles as I had, so we had a lot in common (boy 11 yrs)



  • Because we know that DA damages primary relationships
  • Because we saw a huge need to promote recovery as well as safety
  • Because the programme chimed with what we know about the value and importance of empowerment
  • Because we believe that mothers are the best form of support and protection to their children
  • Because groupwork works well for those with experience of DA
  • Because we need to do better than we’re doing

A Unique Approach

      • 12 week curriculum
      • Peer learning
      • Concurrent groups to support mutual recovery
      • Assessment as engagement
      • Multi-agency learning and integration

The Cedar Approach

  • It’s a strength-based rather than a deficit approach, helpful, non-stigmatising and non-judgemental
  • Recognises that those experiencing DA have had their ability to make decisions and choices about their own lives seriously undermined
  • Finding ways of helping restore choice, confidence, hope and to strengthen and help repair relationships that have become fractured as a result of living with abuse
  • Crucially while the groups are run for children and their mothers – the focus is primarily about supporting children’s recovery

Underpinning the Cedar approach

  • Each child is an individual and we will not make assumptions about the impact of the abuse
  • We will seek to understand the child’s coping strategies
  • We will see the child as part of a family and look at the family’s strengths and struggles
  • ‘Assessment as engagement’ with families should be an empowering experience based on choice
  • Mothers play a pivotal role in this process

“It was like the first time I thought ‘someone’s actually listening to me’. From that moment I knew it would be ok, you know what I mean?” (Mother)

Through the Eyes of a Bairn,

Cedar Interim Evaluation Report, May 2010


Initial Criteria

      • Children/Young person (CYP) is between the ages of 4 and 16 years
      • The woman and CYP are now out of the abusive environment
      • The CYP has a memory of their mothers abuse and can communicate that in some way
      • CYP and their mother are aware of and agree to the referral
assessment as engagement
Assessment as engagement
  • The Cedar assessment process brings ‘added value’ in its own right as a form of ‘assessment as engagement’ – it’s not just an entry route to the groups
  • Through non-stigmatising engagement, much-needed additional services can be secured for children and families
  • There is a clear potential to reach ‘hard or harder to reach’ families through personal recommendation

Assessment outcomes based on assessment and CYP choice

Outcome fed back to referrer and/or lead professional


A Unique Approach: Volcanoes, Icebergs & Snacks

  • The use of powerful metaphors to promote learning
  • Attention to ‘first order’ needs
  • Curriculum
  • Peer support

“We once done this activity like – it was iceberg and like at the top it’s quite small, but then under the sea it goes big…so like, if somebody feels quite, quite angry, then, they’ve got a lot more feeling underneath.” (Rhona, aged 12 years)

“I learnt with the volcano not to be angry…I liked the way it exploded and needed to think before you explode.” (Shona, aged 7 years)

Mothers also develop a deeper empathy for their children. One mother captured this stating:

“It’s definitely through the eyes of a bairn, Cedar, isn’t it?”


Activity -What does anger do to our bodies?

What happens to my body when I feel angry?


Scrunched nose

Red cheeks

Gritted teeth

Narrow eyes

Tense shoulders

Off balance

Weird feeling in tummy

Feeling Weak


Clenched fist




Wobbly knees

Stomping feet


Multi-agency Learning & Integration

  • Co- facilitators come from a variety of agencies
  • Powerful way to learn together in practice about impact of DA
  • Return to own agencies with higher level of understanding, knowledge and confidence
  • Promotes a ‘ripple effect’ in their own agencies
multi agency professional learning and integration
Multi-agency professional learning and integration

Learning together in practice: co-delivery

Extending a strengths-based approach to broader professional practice

Recognition of existing capacities of children and mothers

Involvement in decision-making

Enhancement of resilience & peer networks

Non-judgemental approach: professionals share

‘Facilitation’ of learning and change

  • Very positive outcomes for co-facilitators
  • The value of multi-agency co-facilitation
  • Extending agency understandings of domestic abuse
valuing early intervention prevention and partnership
Valuing early intervention, prevention and partnership

Recovery focused work is a solution rather than a burden

Can strengthen local responses to DA

Cedar sits best within a local context where there are clear policies and partnership strategies to respond to domestic abuse

Can tackle inconsistencies in addressing DA amongst practitioners

  • Very high numbers of children in Scotland have lived with, or are living with, domestic abuse.
  • Cedar should have a place within wider social work provision - integrated into existing multi-agency and partnership work as ‘a way of working’

I’ve learnt from talking to mothers – it was a real eye opener for them – and for me. The mothers supported my learning. In any group there’s learning for you as a participant – even if you’re a facilitator. (facilitator)


I’m more confident (in my wider work). I used to think what they needed was a formal service… professional response – now I’m more child focussed… think about what would connect with the young people, use their language and their opinions. (facilitator)

Cedar gave us an opportunity we might otherwise never have – to deliver something together. I think that’s unique (facilitator)


Building Lasting Partnerships

  • Considerable interest, enthusiasm and commitment towards adopting Cedar locally
  • Translating policy into practice – making a difference at a local level
  • Partnership working is core to its success

‘Action Research’

  • Fundamental to the success of Cedar
  • Evidence base for model
  • Learning as we went along
  • Community of enquiry ‘critical friends’
outcomes for children young people and mothers
Outcomes for children, young people and mothers

Families have a more positive future outlook

Positive impact on mother-child relationship

Positive group environment

Ability to manage their emotions and their actions in response to domestic abuse

A greater understanding of domestic abuse

Greater knowledge of safe behaviour


Cedar’s Wider Influence

  • Inspiring a different, more helpful and consistent approach towards domestic abuse
  • Engaging with ‘hard to reach’ families
  • Providing a unique vehicle for excellent partnership working across a range of disciplines
  • Improving outcomes for children & young people
national cedar project
Provide 1:1 support to local Cedar projects

Develop Cedar tools & resources

Develop and implement training programme

Organise & facilitate quarterly information exchange days

Develop a database for the Cedar network

Produce monthly updates

Develop the Cedar website

Raise the profile of Cedar Nationally

Finalise Service Standards

Develop a statistical database

National Cedar Project
cedar locally
Cedar Locally


East Ayrshire

East Dunbartonshire






North Ayrshire

North Lanarkshire

Perth & Kinross


Scottish Borders

South Lanarkshire





Messages from Local Partners re future of Cedar

The impact of domestic abuse on children and young people and their family relationships is important and lies at the heart of many other social issues. We must get our co-ordinated

response right for every child

Cedar is cost-effective and in the long term will save money for many services including the NHS, the Police, Social Work, Education and Criminal Justice

Feedback from Cedar graduates – mothers, children and young people – is positive and compelling. A clear message from them is that family relationships have been restored as a result of Cedar and that they have a much more positive future outlook


The Cedar pilot has been successful and should now be extended across Scotland with dedicated funding for local authorities. A clear message from graduates is that we should

‘keep Cedar as Cedar’ by maintaining the integrity and quality of the approach

At this stage, it is important that we avoid stepping back and losing momentum. A national support network should be established to make the most of the existing expertise, allow

sharing of good practice and ensure quality is maintained


Cedar sits best within a local context where there are clear polices and strategies to respond to domestic abuse, including tackling perpetrators, support for women and children and prevention

At local level, the Cedar approach should be integrated into existing services. There is scope for flexibility and creativity in delivery, but Cedar should not be watered down.

Local Advisory Groups are an effective part of the Cedar model and should be maintained


The Cedar assessment process is valuable and works to ensure the engagement and motivation of mothers and children in Cedar groups. Cedar will not be right for everyone; the assessment process is able to identify appropriate alternative forms of support, so that

time spent on assessment still achieves positive outcomes for children and families

We’d like to see all statutory services provide staff to co-facilitate Cedar groups, including teachers and social workers. This is a powerful way for professionals to learn together in practice about the impact of domestic abuse on children. Co-facilitators are a valuable

resource for inter-agency training


…and finally

The voices of women and children from Cedar should continue to be heard. Their insights and expertise are a valuable reality check. We now wish to explore how Cedar graduates can continue to be involved in supporting their peers