The initial meetings On Friday 13th December 2002, Pam Morley, Petros Kypisleuros, Steve Freeman, Simon Stubbs, Jo Everett, Guy Shennan, Martyn Lloyd, Steve Conlon, Janine Ross, Evan George, Tony Ford, Ian Smith, Simon Brewer, Mark Allenby, Maggie Pickering, Robert Smith, Paul Hailes, Fred Ruddick, Carole Waskett, Jacob Shell, Andrew Duggan and Sue Young gathered at Westhill College in Birmingham, for a meeting hosted by Bill O’Connell and Alasdair Macdonald. Prior to the meeting two documents had been circulated for discussion: ‘Why an Association?’ and ‘Accreditation’. Buzz groups generated key questions which were then discussed in small groups. Discussions throughout the day took place in a positive and collaborative atmosphere.
A key question was, ‘How do we get what we want, without getting what we don’t want?’ Those present were unanimous that they wanted to form a Solution Focused Association and the meeting agreed to take the next practical step forward by forming a Steering Group. Pam Morley, Janine Ross, Tony Ford, Fred Ruddick, Andrew Duggan, Evan George, Guy Shennan, Sue Young, Carole Waskett, Steve Freeman, Steve Conlon, Martyn Lloyd, Jacob Shell, Bill O\’Connell and Alasdair Macdonald all volunteered for the Steering Group. It was agreed that the working title for the Association would be the ‘United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice’. Members of the Steering Group then went away to work on a number of matters including a constitution and possibilities for accreditation and a newsletter. On 17 June 2003 Alasdair MacDonald, Carole Waskett, Janine Ross, Bill O’Connell, Ian Smith, Steve Freeman, Rayya Ghul, Dominic Bray, Guy Shennan, Sue Young, Paul Hanton, Martyn Lloyd, Martin Fletcher, Vicky Bliss, Tom, Margaret, Kay and Catherine met in Lancaster, to review major areas of work carried out by members of the Steering Group and decide on next steps.
Legend has it that when the discussion risked becoming stuck on how to fund the new Association Martin Fletcher and others threw £10.00 notes on to the floor in the middle of the room, as a dramatic gesture of commitment to the setting up a new Association! Some would say that it was in this moment that the Association moved from being a theoretical possibility to being a practical reality. There was controversy right from the start, but despite misgivings about the contentious issue of accreditation and the reservations some people had about having too formal an approach, the group voted to set up an Association. The meeting concluded with the decisions that Martin, Paul, Rayya, Carole, Dominic, Martyn, Ian, Alasdair, Janine, Vicky and Bill would work on a number of tasks including establishing a membership list, looking after funds, working on a Statement of Association, designing a logo and photocopying. The annual conference Later, Carole Waskett emailed around to the group to suggest, ‘Why don’t we do the ‘jump-off-the-cliff’ option and have a conference?’ In response to this the group took up the challenge and Bill O’Connell hosted a very successful, well-supported conference in Preston in June 2004.
The UKASFP held its first AGM alongside this conference and elected its first officers. Dominic Bray was elected the first chair of the Association. A second conference was then organised in Preston in June 2005 by the same group with the added help of Steve Freeman, hosted by Dominic Bray, with Dr Alasdair Macdonald as the keynote speaker. Since then an Annual Conference and AGM have been held each year. Laying the foundations for a professional association. By March 2005 the Association had a membership of over 100, a committee with elected officers, a directory of practitioners, a website and a lively discussion forum. A small band of dedicated volunteers, and others not on the committee had set the ball rolling for the Association as it is today. March 2005 also saw the first edition of Solution News, edited by Ian C. Smith. The first publication of Solution Focused Research Review followed in 2008, edited by James McAteer.
The Articles of Association and Terms of Reference for the Association were updated in 2008. In 2009 the committee agreed a draft Code of Ethics and an accreditation framework for differing levels of practitioners. Further developments Dominic Bray was elected as chair again at the AGM in 2010 and it was agreed that there should be a 3-month consultation with current members about what was needed as the next steps for the Association. A report of this consultation was produced (available on the website under ‘Documents’) and one of the key responses, as part of the business plan for the year agreed by the committee, was that the Association needed to update its website to give better resources for members. In Bath in 2011 the conference was hosted by Guy Shennan and Rob Black with a sell-out attendance of 180 delegates. At the AGM that year Andrew Callcott was elected as chair for a three-year term. The new website was launched in November 2011, giving improved resources for members and enabling more efficient ways of running the Association and communicating with our members. It has been tendered again in 2015 and a new rebuilt website will be launched early in 2016. On 1st December 2011 the UKASFP became a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Company number: 07867301. The Registered Office is: the Media Centre, Stonehills, Shields Road, Pelaw, Gateshead NE10 0HW. On the 10th anniversary of the first conference in 2013, the Annual Conference returned to Birmingham, hosted by Change, with the theme ‘Evolution’ In 2014 in Liverpool at the AGM the Association elected its first woman chair: Jen Unwin, who had already shown her mettle by organising the 2014 conference with the theme ‘Solution Focus – Works! The 2016 Conference was held in Swansea organised by the South Wales SF Group supported by Caer Las which is a voluntary organisation very committed to using Solution Focus in its work in supported housing.
In June 2016 Jen stepped down as UKASFP chair so she could focus organising the 2017 UKASFP Conference together with Mark McKergow. Jen will also work with the SF World organising group: the very first SF World event is to be held in Frankfurt in September 2017. Jim Bird-Waddington was elected UKASFP chair in June 2016 – fresh from his organising role in Swansea.