Former Beirut hostage to address Building Resilience in Families conference at N

Thursday, 14 June 2007

L-R: Mr Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of the children's charity Barnardos and Dr. Pat Dolan, Director of the Child & Family Research Centre, NUI Galway

Above: Mr. Brian Keenan addressing the Conference at NUI Galway.

Building resilience in children, families and communities is the focus of a conference at NUI Galway that will see international experts from the fields of Child Care, Social Work, Psychology and Sociology address the need to ensure families are resilient to stress and tragedy. The conference is hosted by the Child and Family Research Centre, from Thursday 14 June to Friday 15 June.

Over 300 delegates are due to attend the conference where special guest speaker Mr Brian Keenan will reflect on how he used coping skills learned in his childhood, to cope with captivity and social isolation during the four and a half years in which he was held hostage in Beirut in the 1980s.

Mr. Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of the children's charity Barnardos, who will deliver the opening address, said: "Every childhood lasts a lifetime, and a childhood of poverty can leave scars that never fade away. This is made all the more real in that one in nine Irish children live in the type of poverty that means going without adequate food and proper clothing".

Other key speakers include Dr Robert Chaskin, Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; Professor Sheila Green, Director of the Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin and Professor Jean E Rhodes, Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts.

"Professionals need to be more proactive in ensuring families are resilient to stress and tragedy according to Dr Pat Dolan, Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.

"Apart from the need for more preventive services in communities, many children and their families need to be better equipped with the necessary skills to be able to 'bounce back' from tragedy or on-going stress. Furthermore, better use can be made of families' own capacity to overcome difficulties with professionals' support.

It is somewhat ironic that although rightfully much emphasis is now placed on the protection of children who experience adversity and are in crisis, far less attention is given to the need to equip their families to cope at the earlier stages in their problems or in their aftermath."

Delegates from a range of social care backgrounds are due to attend the conference at the Child and Family Research Centre, Áras Moyola, NUI Galway.

The Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC) is a partnership between the Health Service Executive and the National University of Ireland Galway. Based at the Department of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway, the Centre is in receipt of significant support from The Atlantic Philanthropies Ireland towards its future development. The vision of the CFRC is to improve outcomes for children and their families, and advance practice and policy in Ireland and internationally, through research, evaluation and service development.

ENDS

For further information please contact: Dr. Pat Dolan, Director, Child & Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway. Tel: 091-492930 or 087-2342649.

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