Supporting the Peer Relationships of Scotland’s Looked After Children

Peer relationships are an important source of support and stability for looked after children. This event will explore how practitioners working with looked after children can provide opportunities for young people to build these important relationships and protect and support those that already exist.

Building friendships, preventing social isolation

“Relationships which are significant to infants, children and young people will be protected and supported to continue unless it is not safe to do so.”
The Care Review Intentions (June 2018)

Often when we talk about the importance of relationships to looked after children through the lens of attachment and trauma theory, we focus on the attachments they form with parents, practitioners and trusted adults. Peer relationships between siblings and friends are equally important to supporting a child or young person’s resilience and wellbeing, but are vulnerable to being lost as they move through the care system, leaving them in social isolation.

Research by the Scottish Children Reporter Administration found that children who were accommodated and subsequently placed permanently away from their birth parents experienced a high degree of estrangement from siblings. There is little data on how many children and young people lose touch with friends during their journey through care, but we know that entering care can mean the loss or disruption of friendships as children will move home and at times area. Being in care can have a stigmatising effect, making new friendships hard to develop. In addition to managing changes in existing relationships, children may need to negotiate new ones, with new siblings born to birth parents, other looked after children, or children of foster parents.

Key issues we’ll examine with you

  • Peer relationships in the context of attachment and trauma theory
  • The benefits of positive peer relationships for looked after children e.g. mental health, reduced risk of social isolation, supporting permanence
  • The connection between a looked after child’s experience of parenting and how they develop peer relationships
  • Adult perceptions of peer relationships compared to the child’s perceptions: good and bad influences
  • Creating safe spaces for friendships to grow
  • Addressing peer abuse/bullying amongst looked after children

Confirmed speakers

  • Gillian Henderson,  Information & Research Manager, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration 
  • Speaker to be confirmed, Who Cares? Scotland
  • Sue Brunton, Assistant Head of Business – Family Placement, Barnardo’s Scotland
  • Nick Hobbs, Head of Advice and Investigations, Children & Young People's Commissioner Scotland




Session 1: Resilience Through Friendship

  • Care experienced young people talk about their peer relationships within the care system
  • The latest research on peer relationships in care settings
  • Peer relationships in the context of attachment and trauma theory

Session 2: Overcoming the Barriers to Making and Maintaining Connections

  • Peer abuse/bullying
  • Keeping siblings in contact
  • Adult perceptions of peer relationships

Session 3: Positive Environments for Building and Supporting Relationships

  • In residential care
  • The role of education
  • Within foster care
  • Community spaces

*Agenda subject to change



Central Edinburgh, venue to be confirmed in due course.


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 per place (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, housing associations, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 per place (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635

3 October 2018
United Kingdom


Share this page