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From Rio to Wakefield, the importance of team work is clear

Whilst local authorities look to meet the twin challenges of reducing resources and rising demands by changing process, thresholds and structures, we have decided to take a different approach here in Wakefield.

I was concerned that, out of necessity, our practice was becoming too transactional. A contact received and managed through a process to a conclusion, without the time for our staff to really pause and reflect on how this approach must feel to children and their families in a time of crisis. With this in mind we recently invited Futuregov, a not for profit organisation, to challenge our practices (and those of our partners).

From the outset we wanted to restate the importance of relationships at the core of good social work and to change the relationship we have with children, their families and our partners too. We also wanted to reduce our re-referral rate! So, an ambitious ask, and an approach that was a step into the unknown. The initial response from the managers and frontline workers varied from trepidation and polite curiosity to scepticism - “what can external consultants tell us that we don’t already know?”

But Futuregov met the challenge head on. Their working practice is consultative and collaborative and, in many ways, reflects the great social work practice we all aspire to. Consequently, as the work developed and as engagement deepened, everyone embraced the process, feeling empowered to seek solutions for the services they manage, and the families they work with, on a daily basis. The culture of the organisation has opened up and we’re all determined to work more closely together - it is so easy to fall into a default position of a silo mentality when the pressure is upon us. It’s early days but we are seeing re-referrals reducing and feedback from our partners has been positive in recognising changes and an openness in our approach to work with children and families.

Throughout this exercise our team managers in children’s services have worked as one, they have grown in confidence and are fiercely proud of their achievements. I am also proud of what they have done to date and what they hope to do in the future. We have left the starting blocks and have a clear view on achieving gold for Wakefield children. And to continue with the Olympics theme, we know it will be a marathon, not a sprint but we’ll get there together.

Like all good teams, including the triumphant ‘Team GB,’ space to think and confidence in your team mates allows ideas to flourish. You will be surprised what can be achieved with a common goal and purpose.


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SOCIAL WORK 58 YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER 12

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