Category Archives: GIRFEC

Want to consult Children and Young People? Use Talking Mats and GIRFEC


One of the things I love about Talking Mats is that it can be used by all agencies. When thinking about the rationale behind GIRFEC the main focus is to encourage professionals to work together. It is so refreshing to have a resource that is recognised and used across the agencies.
It is not necessary to have written reports with names of assessments or measures that are a mystery to each other. Talking Mats uses visuals to capture feelings and views. The reporting of those views can be understood by children, parents and professionals.
In developing our new resource we listened and responded to a wide range of professionals. We have researched the Well-being indicators and have provided a tool to give an overview of the issues in the lives of children and young people.
Our vision is to provide a tool to listen to and capture children’s voices. We have a responsibility to be open and realistic about how we respond to what they tell us. Taking time to listen means we need to take time to respond.
We hope that Talking Mats will improve understanding throughout the whole GIRFEC team as we seek to get to the heart of what matters to the child.  Margo Mackay
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How can you support a child with communication difficulties in child protection?

Talking Mats role in child protection

Here are 3 stories of how Talking Mats has been helpful to staff from Edinburgh Council – Child Protection Team.

Use with parents

N. works with chaotic drug using parents and said “TMs was a turning point – like gold dust – it helped parents identify important issues”.

Involving child in access decisions

A young girl completed two mats the first one about going to mum’s and the second one about going to dad’s. The social worker was then able to explain to the parents how the child felt and TMs allowed the parents to discuss positive ways to unify care. The visual impact of having two differing viewpoints is very powerful.

Use of Talking Mats in children’s panels

L. has trained many Children’s Panel members in Edinburgh and some are now asking social workers if they have used a TM. Using the actual mat rather than a photo was considered to be more beneficial. “it is like the child is present in the room”. An example was given of a young child bringing in her mats about cats. She showed the panel member her mat and it acted as evidence to show the panel that the girl is now able to separate from her mother. Her mother had suffered abuse as a child and she had become over-protective of her daughter. TM increased the child’s participation.

If anyone has used Talking Mats in Child Protection we would love to hear from you.

Can Talking Mats help young people set targets?

Involving young people in making decisions that affect their education can be both challenging and time consuming. Margo Mackay has just completed a research project, funded by NHS Forth Valley, which examined whether using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY) can be usefully combined with Talking Mats to provide a practical framework for decision making and target setting. It tested whether:

  1. combining Talking Mats and the ICF-CY framework was acceptable to secondary pupils with complex needs, and
  2. using the information obtained from them is helpful in setting targets for their Individual Education Plans

The project found that Talking Mats, when combined with ICF-CY, is a powerful tool with the potential to greatly enhance the nature of partnerships between pupils, parents and professionals.