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The child’s story at the centre: Council of the Baltic Sea States and HM Queen Silvia encourage a growing network of Barnahus

 

The child’s story at the centre

Linköping inspires a European movement to establish Barnahus

Council of the Baltic Sea States and HM Queen Silvia encourage a growing network

On 28-29 November 2016, professionals from around Europe met in Linköping to gather inspiration to launch an innovative way to support child victims of violence in their own countries.

The innovation is called the Barnahus. In the Nordics, this multi-disciplinary and interagency service model forms an integral part of the welfare and judicial system. It provides support to child victims and witnesses to violence, giving them access to justice, avoiding re-victimisation and ensuring recovery. The Barnahus model was founded in Iceland in 1998 and the second ever Barnahus was launched in Linköping in 2005.

Barnahus puts the child’s story at the centre. In a child-friendly environment, the many sectors involved in a civil or criminal investigation work in coordination under one roof. This helps the child to be able to tell a complete story. When the story is recorded and submitted as evidence to a court proceeding, the child does not need to face the accused in court. As part of the process, victims have direct access to care and support services at the Barnahus.

At the meeting, HM Queen Silvia returned to Linköping, 11 years after inaugurating the first Barnahus in Sweden, to give her support to the European Barnahus movement. Her advocacy played a key role in the establishment of Barnahus in Sweden. The World Childhood Foundation, which The Queen founded, helped to establish Barnahus Linköping and continues to support the establishment of Barnahus around the world.

The meeting on 28-29 November 2016 in Linköping was organised by the Council of the Baltic Sea States and its partners to promote the establishment of Barnahus or similar centres throughout the Baltic Sea Region and beyond. Children’s rights are a priority for the Council of the Baltic Sea States during its Icelandic Presidency 2016-2017, and have been a topic for regional cooperation within the CBSS since 2002.

The meeting is part of the PROMISE Project, co-funded by the European Union through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The co-organizers include Barnahus Linköping, Child Circle in Brussels, Belgium, and Linköping University. The meeting is additionally supported by the Barnahus in Stockholm and Iceland, the Verwey-Jonker Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and the Kenter Jeugdhulp in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

See coverage of the meeting on the Swedish news broadcaster SVT here.

For more images see the CBSS Flickr.