The first meeting of EGN took place on 4 and 5 March 2019 in Utrecht in the Netherlands, in the presence of members from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, the UK and the Netherlands. EGN-project manager Terry Smith provided an overview on the vision and goals of the EGN-project. The network wants to be inclusive and aims at having guardianship institutions, NGO’s and governmental and affiliated partners on board. He stressed that the network is about improving outcomes for children. Marjan Schippers, head of the department of behavioural scientists at Nidos, joined the meeting to share the vision of Nidos on guardianship. She shared the experiences of Nidos with intercultural communication and taking into account the cultural context of the children (extended family culture, honour culture, guilt versus shame culture, perceptions on health and healthcare). She also talked about the needs, stress and frustrations of the children and what Nidos learned from this concerning the guidance offered – cross border networking with the family of the child, supporting mental health problems, trauma and stress informed guidance. It was agreed to have this topic on the agenda for the September 2019 meeting.
The last part of the meeting was used to identify the issues that the network would like to address going forward. It would be helpful for the members to be provided with a synopsis of previous and ongoing projects and what has been the learning from these. This will be provided to all and will also be addressed during the next network meeting in September. The presentation in September will also involve the outcomes of the ProGuard project. The European Commission will be asked to present their current view on development of guardianship in Europe during the next network meeting: what are their concerns concerning the target group of unaccompanied children, what are they planning to do and what are views and plans if any for guardianship? Terry Smith will write a first draft on the common ground on day to day contents of guardianship for this group and provide all members with this and invite their comments, suggestions and proposed amendments.