The POTATO group

Legal People- fabulous free resource

Legal people! Have a free, comprehensive resource on resolution and family law conference on us!

Links and Resources Page 


Independent Reviewing Officers Conference (NAIRO)

Good morning everyone, its the day of the NAIRO conference today and POTATO group are there, talking with IROs and sharing with them the realities of life with traumatised adopted young people.

It may come as a surprise to some that around 3-5% of young adoptees have found family life too hard and need more than a family can offer. There are many reasons for this but it is true that the numbers of children going into the care of social services from adoptive homes goes up ten fold in teenage years (Selwyn et al “Beyond the Adoption Order” 2014.) Most end up in section 20 looked after care. This is where the parents retain full parental rights (PR) but have asked the local authority to look after their young person.

Because of this, every young person has a review with an IRO present. They also have a right to a social worker and an independent advocate.

For more information about section 20 and retaining PR check out the information provided by Family rights Group

We have written an information document for IROs use, giving out copies at todays conference. Please see our Links and Resources page for more information.

Free NVR sessions

We get sent lots of emails from various adoption support agencies. This one arrived today and it looked really helpful to many of our families.

Non Violent Resistance – NVR

FREE – 9 Week Group Sessions

for Parents and Carers

of Children and Young People
Challenging, Destructive and Violent Behaviour

Thursday mornings 10.15 – 12.45
20 Oct 2016 3, 10, 17, 24 Nov 2016 1, 8, 15 Dec 2016 12 Jan 2017

Venue: ‘Freedom from Torture’, 111 Isledon Road, London N7 7JW (see map on back)

This is a closed group that includes training on NVR.
If you are a two-parent family it is most beneficial if both parents attend where possible.
Please only enrol if you can make it a priority to attend each week.
(We will be running another group from January 2017.)

We wish to use parts of this course in our ‘Training for Trainers Course.’ We therefore need participants’ agreement to video the sessions. Please note the camera will directed at the group facilitators. The material will only be used for future NVR trainers and group facilitators.
Participants will learn to:
· Feedback from 2 parents from the last course

‘There has been no advice as valuable as the ideas and delivery of this course, even if some of it seems alien – hang on in there.’

Exceptionally good, knowledgeable, and experienced course facilitators. Every adoptive family needs these people. Top marks.
Take a firm stance against violence

· Hold back from physical or verbal violence

· Increase positive presence in your child’s life

· De-escalate conflicts

· Break the cycle of shame and silence

· Make changes in relating to your child in the long term

· Reduce distress for parent and child

· Feel more in control

· Recruit and use supporters

· Enjoy the benefits of being part of a group

To register, please use the following link: , open the link to “Workshops for adoptive parents” and complete the online form. Please make sure that you confirm your registration after you submitted the form. You will then receive an email confirmation.

The facilitators

Michelle Shapiro is an experienced chartered clinical psychologist with 10 years’ experience in a CAMHS service. Michelle was one of the original team trained by Haim Omer, who then began implementing NVR in the Bexley and Greenwich CAMHS service (Oxleas). Since 2013 Michelle has been an independent practitioner, specialising in NVR and trauma work.
Sue Dromey has worked in the field of fostering and adoption for over 35 years as an integrative child psychotherapist, drama therapist, trainer and social worker. She has worked as a therapist and Practice Manager for PAC-UK’s Child and Family Service for 15years. Sue has a special interest in helping families deal with the impact of trauma on their daily lives. She is interested in integrating NVR with therapeutic work which addresses trauma.
Ruth Pimenta: joined PAC-UK’s Child and Family Service in 2013 as child and family therapist. She was a teacher in London for 16 years. She qualified as a therapist in 2000 and has worked in local authority, the voluntary sector and in private practice and is a member of BACP. She has a wealth of experience as a child mental health worker and as a trainer with foster carers, adoptive parents and social workers.
We are joined by 2 graduate NVR parents – who have both ‘been there and got the t-shirt.’
Participants have found it invaluable to have the parent facilitators as part of the team
Tamsin: parent co-facilitator who became a parent through adoption and has been using NVR with her family.
Dawn: parent co-facilitator and adoptive parent who has been using NVR with her family and has facilitated an NVR parenting programme within a school.


Nearest Underground station: Finsbury Park (Piccadilly and Victoria lines).
Bus routes: 4, 29, 90, 153, 253, 254, 259, and 279. This purpose-built treatment centre has wheelchair access and a WC adapted for use by disabled people.
Parking: Sobell Centre Car Park – this centre is a little down the road from ‘Freedom for Torture’, on the other side of the road. There are parking metres in most of the streets nearby. At the back of the 115 Isledon Road, there are some parking facilities and payment by mobile phone.

Mila Coronado
Team Administrator
t. 020 7284 0555
f. 020 7482 2367

Clever poem for your five minutes and cuppa….

A POTATO Member has sent in this clever poem to share, and we hope you enjoy it with a cuppa. 

It really is vitally important to take a break, even 5 minutes to yourself each day. Self care is something we take really seriously in our group as it is the only thing you can often control in the times when things are smooth or rough going.

 That’s good for your mental and physical health (as long as the cuppa isn’t neat gin everyday!) 

So. Here’s the poem with today’s cuppa. Enjoy 

 I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots.
Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.
I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognises you there.
I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there.
I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.
I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.
I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.
One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense!
It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
I may have been in Continent, and I don’t remember what country I was in.
It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

AGM 2016

It’s that time of year and again the POTATO steering group are planning for the AGM. This year, it’s going to be a bit different with the emphasis on what the group does to support parents of traumatised young people.

Examples of which will be shared when the group have given talks, shared expertise, met with advisory bodies and held “communication stalls”. Donations can be brought on the day to cover the costs involved in setting up the event, we ask all members to check they have completed their membership forms and paid their annual cost of £10 per year, per family.

We are holding it over the same weekend as the adoptionuk conference so members will have the option of attending both events.

Very importantly we have been busy arranging social meals over the weekend in November to get to meet one another in person, share stories and have a much needed break from day to day family life. Looking forward to laughing with everyone.

For further details, either email or if you are a member, check our Facebook chat group.

Door left ajar

Was it ever right that I tried to be your mummy?
How could you accept that when I wasn’t ‘tummy mummy’?
She made you and she bore you,
And she loved you from the start,
She just didn’t have the wherewithal to keep you in her heart,
I wanted to replace her
And give you all l could,
I wanted you to be secure
And make your life feel good.
We took you in our family
A daughter and a sister,
We loved you and we cherished you
But still you really missed her.
No love nor understanding
Could take away your pain,
No therapy nor counselling
Could make us both feel sane.
We battled and we struggled

And I tried to keep you near,
But it wasn’t really possible
Because of all the fear.
It all went wrong, we asked for help
But no one really cared,
Or maybe they just didn’t see
We both were really scared.
I let you down, I should have had
The strength to battle on.
I never will forgive myself
Now that our chance is gone.
But even now, there is a bond
Of that I feel quite sure
I only hope you feel it too
And leave ajar the door

Used with permission from Poet:  Janet Barraclough

Professionals and Adoptive Parents

word bubbleHi all,

We are so fortunate in our group because there is such experience and expertise in adoption matters. Read an excellent article by Dave Bagshaw and Mair Richards adapted from their presentation at the POTATO conference and AGM 2015.

The full version can be downloaded for free here on the LINKS and RESOURCES page.

With thanks to Dave and Mair for this helpful resource.

Sally Donovan’s Article

It’s Sunday and the roar of Sally Donovan has begun to die down. She did a great article in this weeks “Community Care” and there has already been a huge amount of feedback.

The article points to experience of member families and the fundamental hampering of professional progress due to a lack of learning from mistakes.

Take a look at the link below.


Special educational needs?

Diane Rochford is conducting a review into education provision. The review was asked to advise the Department for Education on statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

POTATO Group understands that many of our adoptees may be assessed under p levels or miss out on full assessment.


Further, if you have experienced or missed out on p level assessment in primary education and then come up against difficulties in secondary provision as a result, please email us. Subject: P levels review.

Conference and AGM

potato conf 2015

Hello all POTATO group members and interested people 🙂

In November we held our AGM and conference with a mix of speakers and information sharing amongst peers.


The Steering group met and it was decided that the roles within Potato Group needed some changes due to the increased work load involved in a larger, and expanding membership.

The roles decided upon were:

  • Chairperson. x1
  • General Secretary. x1
  • Membership Secretary. x1
  • Welfare Secretary x2
  • Treasurer (with supporting signatories)

Steering Group Persons were proposed and seconded by members, duly elected.

Points of discussion included development of a membership map and database for meeting support. Further discussion about revenue streams and finance followed. Members were asked to consider dates, times and venues for AGMs and Conferences in future. Ideas on the day included having a summer conference and a winter AGM, keeping things as they are, having a separate “self care” focus weekend.

To contribute further ideas, or for a full set of minutes, please contact the steering group via email, or twitter @thePOTATOgroup


Dave Bagshaw- Adoptive Parent, dealing with professionals and understanding each other better.

Exploring reasons that social care misunderstand adoptive parents and are very much geared towards working with dysfunctional parents with dysfunctional children. Whereas we are (generally speaking) functional parents host to dysfunctional young people.

POTATO group parents looking at destructive and challenging behaviours will read these as trauma-induced difficulties which require de-escalation. The parents are often under enormous strain dealing with extreme  issues and find their young person’s needs bring them to the attention of various services. Or they approach services asking for assistance.

Whereas police, social care and other professionals may view this dangerous, rash, threatening behaviours as a result of poor parenting and inadequate boundaries. Dramatising these perspectives it was helpful to recognise what is going on and the practical tips for managing in meetings when the professionals come with this mindset was very helpful for members.

Sarah Phillimore, Barrister.

Sarah’s Website-

Sarah has worked extensively in the family law courts.  Via the contacts made with POTATO group she has become aware that section 20 is often being used in respect to adoptive young people who cannot be at home, most often due to their high risk behaviours, significant harm to parents or other children in the home. Section 20 means that the adoptive parents retain FULL parental responsibility. It is our group experience that this is often ignored and the local authority often behave as if they hold PR and the adoptive parents are “to blame” for their child being looked after.

Sarah has looked into this and has done a specific piece of work debunking the narrative that meetings with professionals cannot be recorded. They can be recorded. It is not illegal, saying that you are going to record the meeting is a wise precaution in many cases.

Jackie, ECHP expert advisor.

Very informative talk about the new EHCP plans. You can as a parent apply for an EHCP for your young person but you will need substantial evidence that your child is behind and has been unable to catch up despite support and intervention. It is worth considering applying for a plan, even if your YP is 16yrs old or over because that plan can continue until 25 years old.

The school/ college will be asked for evidence too but it is not essential that they are on side. The EHCPs are very much education orientated but any plan will encapsulate additional health and social needs.

One of the negatives of EHCPs is that all the information you provide to get the support, is shared with that young persons professional team throughout the time under the plan. So consider carefully the evidence presented and whether you want, or your young person will want, that forever on the record.

Jenny Jones, Adoption Support Fund

Jenny Jones website:
Twitter: @JenniferJ432

Adoption support fund is a recent development allowing adoptive families to apply for and obtain funded support for specialist services, relating to their post adoptive needs.

Basically the process is this:

  1. Family applies to the local authority with responsibility for their support for an “Assessment of Needs”.
  2. The Local Authority should send a suitably qualified and experienced worker to assess the family needs and complete the documentation.
  3. The resulting needs outcomes are shared with the family.
  4. If there are specific specialist needs identified for funding, the assessment is considered by the ‘expert advisory group’ for the ASF for consideration.
  5. If agreement is achieved the local authority assist the family in finding adequate resource to fund and get started ASAP.
  6. This process is reviewed.

There are a lot of families and local authorities that have been helped to achieve support the likes of which would have been beyond the scope and means of Adoption Services normally. This has been most welcome. Helpfully, Jenny has detailed this in her powerpoint .

There are several issues that have arisen within ASF processing as several LAs appear to not be applying, lack personnel to assess as well as run a busy department and additionally there are problems with additional panel based bureaucracies within LA’s before the application even reaches the central fund. If the LA has internal panels these are not permitted to change the assessing social workers decisions.

POTATO Group members are looking to see improvement in the general awareness of the ASF and increasing access. Wide misinterpretation of Post Adoption Departments re access of ASF for S20 families is one issue raised from the members. Many families have been treated poorly by LAs that have tried to access support in the past, (see Dave Bagshaw’s talk notes above) that they just cannot pick up the phone and speak to the LA again. Comments from the floor emphasised that increased and easier access review would be welcome.

There was a lot of thanks given to speakers, individual members and the steering group for organising, attending and delivering a diverse, useful and enlightening conference relevant to many areas of parenting adopted teenagers.

Many POTATO Group members enjoyed various social and individual activities over the weekend, enjoying meals out, pampering, shopping and other chances to indulge in some vital self care.

If you attended, thank you for coming along and we will update you with future dates and details of AGM and Conference(s?) for 2016.

Jenni, General Secretary.