The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is an independent organisation that improves the lives of children and families by putting data and evidence at the heart of the family justice system. They state…..

“The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory exists to find and fill the gaps in our understanding of the family justice system, highlight the areas where change will have the biggest impact, and foster collaboration to make that change happen. A bridge between the academic community and frontline practitioners, we are independent and relentless in our focus on ensuring children get the best support based on the best available information.

In everything we do, our work is guided by the experiences of children and families right across England and Wales.”

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory outline four values at the centre of their work which informs and underpins all that they do. Below is their expression of these four values………..


We recognise that families in the family justice system are facing some of the toughest experiences of their lives and our work needs to be based as much in empathy as it is in intellectual rigour.


We start from a position that there is much to learn and strive to maintain our curiosity to really understand how family justice works and is experienced. We recognise the importance of both qualitative and quantitative data and evidence, as well as lived experience. We approach our work with open minds. We are independent; we come with no agenda other than our determination to help achieve better lives for children and their families.


We recognise all different perspectives and believe that change happens when you work with others and engage with different points of view. This includes the expertise of those with lived experience and professionals.


We recognise that discrimination and racism exist in society and can be systemic. To achieve better lives for all children and their families we interrogate how different forms of inequalities combine to affect families in the family justice system and work collaboratively and with humility to create change.”

I recognise all these values, in particular the need for collaboration in making change happen.

As I detailed in my last Blog: the need to listen, validate, collaborate, engage, challenge, debate and respect other individuals views is crucial.

As McKenzie Friends we have a responsibility to work within the family justice system in a proportionate and positive manner whilst acknowledging that much needs to be done to promote the lives of children and their families who often have no option but to navigate a fractured family justice system.

Collaboration therefore is an essential component to challenge systems that need repair: to do so with detail and awareness, with reflection and knowledge, with discussion and assertion.

In my next blog I will be exploring one of the four key values highlighted by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory – EMPATHY, within the framework of remote hearings in relation to child arrangements.