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The power of the ADCS family

We all work through building relationships and deliver services that support children and families. Some of us do this in a more formal way, utilising restorative and relational based techniques that drive our practice, but ultimately without building those relationships with children, their parents and families, it becomes far more challenging to do our work successfully. Developing and maintaining relationships helps with our resilience, whether that be in our privileged position of working in this fantastic sector, or personally outside of our work.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has meant there has never been a more important time to draw on those relationships, to be self-resilient, and to have a resilient workforce. Actual human contact has been replaced by virtual contact and, for now at least, the vast array of video meetings has become the new norm, something we probably couldn’t have contemplated before March - thankfully it is in the main serving us well. It allows us to go about our business and maintain those vital connections more easily than traditional faceless telephone calls do. Our jobs are based on building trust and mutual respect, and today’s technology means that we and our staff can continue to do so.

With that in mind, and as a people person, when asked to write this week’s ADCS blog, I reflected on what must be one of the most challenging jobs at this time, and pondered on my resilience, what has had a positive impact on it, and that of my staff over the past few months. Some of the ‘constants’ in my reflections were relationships, and the sector itself, and how through ADCS a collective disparate family is brought together in normal times, and the power that this has then created at the most difficult of times in many of our careers.

So, I ask myself, what makes ADCS so important? Being a relatively new member to ADCS (I have been a member since late 2015, much less time than many of my esteemed colleagues), I realised it provides a wraparound warmth of a family in normal times, let alone during uncertainty and need, to a role that can feel a very lonely place. Regionally as well, there are huge advantages. North East ADCS is a strong network, bonded together by our relationships, understanding of local nuance, and the desire to bring about long term sustainable change to improve the outcomes for those we serve. Our Sector Led Improvement framework and associated sub-groups has a set of well-developed priorities that has shown real resilience. It has given us a readymade infrastructure for driving forward change and solutions with clear responsibilities and accountabilities that we share and own.

With yesterday’s ADCS virtual Annual Conference, it was really encouraging to note a number of people ‘attending’ their first conference. As a “newer kid on the block” I can vouch for the value of becoming an active member of the ADCS community. The collective band of brothers and sisters is so powerful in providing an individual and collective ‘prop’, probably like no other that I have felt, and we should recognise and celebrate that at any time, but especially during this pandemic. There are many things that other sectors could learn.

What makes our sector different to any other is the strength of our ADCS community and our innate understanding of the need for these trusted supportive relationships, without which our jobs may well have felt and even been impossible over the past few months. Our own professional and personal resilience is an easy one for us to side step in this rapidly unfolding world of change, yet speaking for myself, my wellbeing remains intact (if not a few pounds heavier), and that is largely due to my ADCS family that keeps me grounded and mentally strong. As a sector leader, this means that I can do the same for my staff, and ultimately for those we serve to support.

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