Experiences of an alienated child

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As a child survivor from a separation war, Pat Riley has insights into how children should be supported through family conflict

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After an early childhood ravaged by family conflict, in 1948 at age seven Patricia Riley was made a Ward of the English High Court. Far from improving her lot, however, the judgement condemned her to the life of a nomad, for the next ten years being shuttled every few weeks between boarding-schools and the homes of her warring parents. Her mother continued to demand her total loyalty; her father retaliated by getting Pat’s school to punish her for not siding with him.

Pat became determined as an adult to do whatever she could to improve the care given to children from backgrounds such as hers, becoming a social worker and foster-parent. Not content with those achievements, in retirement she has written of her childhood experiences in her autobiography SERPENT CHILD in the hope this will help prevent today’s parents from making the mistakes her parents did.

Pat will speak and read some of her book, followed by discussion of what should be happening in Scottish family separations. This evening session is intended mainly for parents, although family and legal professionals are also welcome. We are also holding an event in the afternoon aimed at professionals.

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