The power of ‘us’

It’s an absolute honour to be writing a blog for ADCS and to be representing colleagues as the new Chair of the North East region. I really enjoy the opportunity to work with my colleagues across the region. For some, this might seem like a luxury, in the face of the day to day challenges we all face in our roles. For me, it’s essential to form a team in the region, sharing, learning and respecting each other’s perspectives. I feel privileged to be able to support this from the position of Chair, as I feel the responsibility to ensure we get to discuss and debate the issues for our region.

This past week, I chaired my first (very productive) regional meeting where we discussed sector-led improvement and support, something we haven’t been as good at here in the North East as we need to be, but we are making rapid progress at, with real commitment from everyone. Two local authorities on our patch were also designated as Partners in Practice (PiPs) recently. I would like to congratulate North and South Tyneside Councils on their well-deserved status as PiPs. This is great news for our region as a whole. We also finished my first meeting on time (just about…).

In preparation for my inaugural blog, I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about this sense of team. It’s a truism for many that the biggest asset we have in our roles are the people who work with us. I feel the same: not a day goes by without me learning something new from someone through a conversation, a discussion or a viewpoint. That’s what team means to me – being receptive and open to others, making the most of the different skills and approaches we all have, to make things more than the sum of their parts. We are enriched by these conversations, but only if we enable them, if we connect and accept that we have much to learn by listening to others.

Just this week, I have been able to benefit from the skills and experience of someone working with us on engaging with children in care; from authorities with experience of systemic models of practice where the value of family therapists and clinical psychologists working as part of the team was evident; to the strategic discussion of children’s services with senior leaders in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Stockton. All examples of different conversations, forming different relationships and adding something different to the sense of team effort: our collective pursuit of a better future for children and young people. There is no blueprint for the challenges which face us now and in the future, it is only through the power of our relationships and our sense of team that we will have a chance of achieving great things.

I felt the same sense of team and collective endeavour at the recent ADCS Council of Reference meeting. I feel immensely humble to be part of such a dedicated and committed group of leaders, generous with their time and their knowledge.

It’s a team I want to play for.

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