Begin with the end in mind

As I write this I am reflecting on the life of a wonderful friend and colleague who passed away this week. Sarah Caton, the amazing Chief Officer for ADCS since its inception, was passionate about achieving the best possible outcomes for children and young people and equally passionate about the development of ADCS as a national, regional and local influence for good on their behalf. She was an inspiration, and her legacy will live on!

The immediacy of Sarah’s loss which is being felt so keenly by so many right now, caused me to reflect on the mantra “Begin with the end in mind” and the power of vision, aspiration and purpose in life. Recently there has been some appalling press making negative assumptions about the future of our children in care because of their life experiences both before and during their time in care. We know from first hand experience some of the many examples of those who lead fulfilled and purposeful adult lives, often with significant influence and responsible jobs, some because of the care they received and some despite it. We know too of the challenging hurdles many of them have needed to overcome and the importance of lasting relationships.

For all of us our lives are shaped by our experiences. Our ability to deal with tough times and use them for future good depends on many things, but our support networks and relationships play a crucial role. When the pressure is on, we often feel isolated and when tensions arise it is too easy to apportion blame, or for others to do that to us. We have seen this during the last two harrowing weeks, with the convictions of the murderers of two different innocent children in terrible circumstances. The pendulum swings from those who recognize the tragedy but also the complexity and the need for collective learning, to those with an assumption of knowledge and the desire to accuse. The multi-agency safeguarding system is highly complex and we welcome the learning that will emerge for us all in due course. In the meantime, our essential daily work goes on and I want to pay tribute to our fantastic social workers everywhere who make a positive difference to the lives of so many and to our wonderful wider multi- agency workforce without whom no safeguarding work would be possible.

With our vision and purpose firmly fixed on continuous learning and service development to maximise the best outcomes for children, young people and families, it would be easy to be blown off course by the tragedies we have felt so keenly. We could lose the progress that has been made in recent years to evidence and implement multi-agency practice that makes a difference. We have a long way to go and will learn from what has happened, but this is a time to hold onto our vision, use our skills and support networks well and use our learning in tough times to take us forward. The children and families we serve deserve nothing less and in this festive season with renewed Covid anxiety swirling round, we can take hope from those among us who have overcome adversity and who lead by example. We are as always stronger together.


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