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ÂŁ3.25 Social Work News Magazine

October - December 2019 issue



The spotlight on your profession


Domestic Abuse

Social Work England

Youth Homelessness

We speak to trainer Bal Kaur Howard about supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Are you ready for the switch? Social Work England have answered your questions.

Learn how a Norfolk-based charity is using prevention methods to tackle homelessness.

Social Work News

Contents October - December 2019 issue



A View from the Streets

Ask the Expert

We discover what life is like on the streets, and how engaging in basic conversation can make a big difference.

We’ve brought back our popular ‘ask the expert’ page where our panel of experts are answering your social work questions.



Courtroom Experiences

Missing People Database

As part of our new legal column, we’re looking at how social workers can improve their courtroom experiences.

We speak to charity Missing People to find out how a dedicated missing persons database can be a valuable tool for social workers.



Changing Services

Play Therapy

Ever thought about switching services? Our social worker shares her experiences when switching between children’s and adult services.

We learn how important play therapy can be for children and how it can encourage them to open up about what they are feeling.



Book Review

Have Your Say

Thanks to Jessica Kingsley Publishing, we have an array of the latest social work textbooks which we’ve reviewed on your behalf.

As usual, our readers share their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of social work related topics.



Social Work Circle

Council Spotlight

Our columnist explains why it’s so important for social workers to work in partnership with other healthcare professionals.

In our regular Council Spotlight feature we discover how Peterborough City Council have transformed their services.

Social Work News - 02

Social Work News


foreword Over the last three months, we’ve seen a variety of changes take place across our profession – it’s certainly been a busy summer!

For a start, not only do we have a new Prime Minister, but we’re delighted to welcome the appointment of two new Interim Joint Chief Social Workers for Adults (replacing Lyn Romeo who is taking a temporary 12-month break for personal reasons). And the changes don’t end there. There is also a new Children’s Minister, and we are heading towards the launch of Social Work England, which will officially take over responsibilities for the professional regulation of social workers in England from December. You can read more about Social Work England on page 10. As you can see, there’s been a lot going on which is why we’re delighted to bring you the largest edition yet of Social Work News! With all the Brexit-related chaos and political uncertainty, we’re taking a step back, and rather than focusing on what could happen, we’re looking at what is happening within the social care sector right now. We love having the opportunity to bring you details of regional projects and it’s always a delight to interview a range of people to showcase the diverse nature of social work. This issue, we are looking at two key areas which have long been issues for social services teams – domestic abuse and homelessness.

Meet the team

At the start of the year, much was written about the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 and whilst it hasn’t yet been passed through

Parliament, it’s still vital that social workers continue to improve their knowledge to enable them to fully support victims and their families. In our exclusive interview with social work trainer Bal Kaur Howard, we find out how social workers can make seemingly small changes to improve their work – for instance, just asking “do you feel safe in your own home?” can be a game-changer. Read more about what Bal has to say on page 06. Secondly, we’ve two fantastic articles about the issues relating to homelessness. One is a spotlight on the Benjamin Foundation (page 12); a Norfolk based charity which is providing effective preventative work to reduce the risk of street homelessness amongst young people. The second is an insight into the life of a person who has spent most of his life living on the street. Andy Palfreyman has lived on the streets of London for almost 30 years (on and off) and we find out how basic conversation can be enough to lift someone’s spirits. Read what he has to say on page 14. As always, it is our aim that the magazine both motivates and inspires you. We want you to see this as a resource which you can use to boost your learning; it’s why we always include URL’s and contact details for you to use. Reading informative articles can be a valid part of your CPD activity, so please feel free to share your copy of Social Work News with your colleagues!


Andrew Pirie,

Owen Dye,

"There is so much to learn from this issue, and we hope that it helps you to improve your practice."

"Each issue we challenge ourselves to create a magazine that inspires and motivates you, we hope you like it."

Amy Dawson,

Gemma Raw,

"It was fascinating to hear about the issues around Domestic Abuse. I'm sure you'll be as inspired as I was by what Bal had to say."

"It is always great to see how much positive practice is taking place across the UK."

Marketing Director

Art Director

Contributing Editor


0333 7000 040 |

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Marketing Executive


0333 7000 040 |

News Bites

Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins to train as a social worker

A multi-million pound Mental Health investment to support local initiatives

In possibly the most surprising news of the year, Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins has announced that he is training to be a social worker.

A multi-million pound investment will be used to help young people across England access additional mental health support.

Since retiring from his competitive cycling career three years ago, he has established himself as a pundit on Eurosport. But Sir Bradley shocked fans in an interview with The Big Issue by declaring that he is now studying for a social work degree with the Open University.

The £3.3m funding, which has come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund, will focus upon early intervention projects outside of NHS services. It has been awarded to 23 community-based projects and each project will be fully funded within its first year. From year two onwards, projects will be jointly funded from local commissioners.

He said: “I want to help people. Those horrific things I saw when I was growing up…nothing can shock me now, and I want to use that mental toughness working as a social worker. And when people say, you’re that cyclist, I’ll say, no, that was a few years ago. I’m a social worker now.”

Projects which have been given funding include 42nd Street, who received £300k to expand their online/digital work and The Proud Trust’s Peer Support Project, which was awarded £23k to support LGBT young people.

At Social Work News, we’re thrilled to see someone so high profile championing the social work profession and we wish him all the best with his studies.

Minister for Public Health Jo Churchill said:

To read Sir Bradley’s full interview, visit

“It’s only right that children and young people are able to access mental health support, not only through the NHS but in the heart of their communities, schools, and homes where they spend the majority of their time.” To view the full list of funded community projects, visit

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News Bites

Joint Interim Chief Social Workers for Adults announced

Chancellor Sajid Javid announces £1.5bn social care funding boost

Fran Leddra and Mark Harvey will be taking over the role as Chief Social Worker for Adults on an interim basis from 01 October 2019. The pair will replace Lyn Romeo who is taking a 12 month break for personal reasons. The pair will join the Department of Health and Social Care and will manage the role as part of a job share.

Adult and Children’s social care services have been awarded a £1.5bn boost for 2020-21 as part of the Chancellor’s spending round.

During their secondment they will each continue to work in their existing roles. Fran Leddra is currently Principal Social Worker and Strategic Lead of Safeguarding and Adult Social Care in Thurrock Council whilst Mark Harvey is Operations Director for adult disability services in Hertfordshire County Council. Speaking of their appointments, Lyn Romeo said: “I am delighted that Fran Leddra and Mark Harvey will be the new chief social workers. I know they will do a fantastic job and am sure they will receive the support that I have enjoyed from the department and the wider sector.”

Whilst it may seem like good news, £0.5bn of the amount pledged was dependent upon a council tax precept for adult social care. At the time of writing it is also unclear of the confirmed split in finances between children’s and adult services. Reaction to the funding boost was muted. Whilst BASW described it as “merely a sticking plaster for a long-term funding and structural solution needed for adult social care”, Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said “This money is extremely welcome, but it must reach the front line.” Anne Longfield, Children's Commissioner for England, added that the money was not enough to "tackle the growing crisis in children's services or to turn around the lives of thousands of vulnerable children". You can read the full details of the Spending Round 2019 on

Michelle Donelan named as temporary Children’s Minister

Jacky Tiotto takes over as Cafcass CEO to ensure workers achieve the best outcomes

Michelle Donelan has been appointed as the temporary Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Minister for Children and Families). Donelan’s appointment comes as her predecessor Kemi Badenoch MP takes maternity leave.

Jacky Tiotto has now begun her new role as Chief Executive of Cafcass.

This is the third appointment in the role this summer. Kimi Badenoch replaced Nadhim Zahawi in July when he was appointed to Business Minister in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle. Donelan previously sat on the education select committee and is experienced in issues relating to children’s social care.

Tiotto was previously Director of Children’s Services at the London Borough of Bexley. Her appointment was announced in May, and she takes over from interim boss, Julie Brown, who held the position following the retirement of Anthony Douglas after 14 years. In her new role, Tiotto will ensure that Cafcass workers will achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people who are engaged with the family courts. She joins Cafcass following the publication of its new strategic plan, which sets out the organisation’s vision for the next four years. To read more about Jacky Tiotto or to find out more about Cafcass’ strategic vision, visit

Share your news! Simply email if you have a story you wish to share with us. Social Work News - 05

The Feature Interview

Spotlight on Domestic Abuse This year, much has been written about the continual impact of domestic abuse upon victims and their families. The Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 highlighted the issues and made clear that a new statutory definition was required to enable health, social care, and criminal justice professionals to fully protect victims and their families. With this in mind, we speak to social work trainer Bal Kaur Howard about why it’s so important for social workers to understand the impact of domestic abuse, and how they can use practical tools to improve their practice.

In your view, what is the priority for enabling social workers to fully protect victims of domestic abuse? Currently, when social workers undertake their social work degree, domestic abuse training isn’t a mandatory module. This is surprising because social work teams will spend a considerable amount of time working with incidents that are directly or indirectly affected by domestic abuse. As we wait for the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 to be finalised, I’m hoping that it will become a mandatory part of their qualifications as domestic abuse will have a statutory footing. Training is so important. Not just to allow practitioners to deal with the impact of physical abuse, but also to help them understand the signs and indicators of coercive control and economic abuse which is clearly defined. I also think it’s imperative that the statutory definition of domestic abuse is confirmed. At the moment, local authorities, police, healthcare professionals,

and other agencies all work to individual definitions which makes it much harder to bring them together. Much has been written about the Bill having a specific definition of what constitutes abuse, so the sooner it is enshrined in law, the better.

The proposed statutory definition of Domestic Abuse Behaviour by a person (A) towards another person (B) is ‘domestic abuse’ if – (a) A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected (b) The behaviour is abusive

Behaviour is ‘abusive’ if it consists of any of the following (a) Physical or sexual abuse (b) Violent or threatening behaviour (c) Controlling or coercive behaviour (d) Economic abuse (e) Psychological, emotional, or other abuse

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Economic Abuse Economic abuse is defined as: any behaviour that has a substantial and adverse effect on B’s ability to – a) acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or b) obtain goods or services 'Property’ would cover items such as a mobile phone or car and ‘goods and services’ would cover, for example, utilities such as heating, or items such as food or clothing.

In your experience, what are the primary reasons for victims staying in abusive relationships and how can social workers offer support to help break this cycle of abuse? There are many reasons why a victim may struggle to leave. They may be in love with the perpetrator (as they aren’t abusive all of the time), breaking up the family unit and they may not have realised that they are in an unhealthy relationship or where to go for help. It may be that they are scared to leave but primarily the main underlying factor will always be

The Feature Interview

financial. Therefore, understanding economic abuse is so important. In December 2015, Coercive Controlling Behaviour (CCB) became a criminal offence so we need to work hard as a profession to understand what this means. When I’m running my training workshops, I often ask delegates “can you live without your keys, your credit cards or mobile phone?” which helps them to consider how difficult life can be when someone is denied access to things that we take for granted. We need to really understand that domestic abuse isn’t just physical violence and sexual. It could be manipulation, psychological (mind games) and emotional abuse (constantly putting a person down). Perpetrators can be extremely subtle in the ways that they manipulate their victims, so we need to be able to spot these signs and indicators when we undertake home visits or speak with them. As a professional, look at the space they live in – one victim could not wash the teapot, it was the only item that looked out of place in the home setting and she said “I’m not allowed to wash that”. I highly recommend using practical tools such as the 'Power & Control Wheel' along with the 'Economic Abuse Wheel' because it clearly shows how economic abuse is the primary underlying factor in domestic abuse cases. I often use it in partnership with the 'Equality Wheel (the Duluth Model)' because many victims simply do not realise that they are in an unhealthy relationship. It’s about helping them to come to the realisation of what a healthy, equal partnership is. It is vital for the professional to understand what stage the victim is at, it is no good asking the victim to leave and go to refuge if they haven’t yet identified the abuse.

Although there have been delays with the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019, what do you hope the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner will focus upon following their appointment?

Nicole Jacobs has very recently been appointed to the role of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and it’s really exciting to know that there is now somebody focusing on issues relating to domestic abuse. Although her role is on a part-time basis (which is disappointing given the breadth of the role), I believe that we have long needed someone to lead and guide from a national level. As I mentioned, until the statutory definition becomes final, too many agencies are working to different definitions making it harder to tackle these issues. Ideally, I would like to see her monitor the issues relating to domestic abuse and ensure that standards are being met across the country rather than a 'postcode lottery'. It’s important that new commissioner can ensure that people are held accountable. However, it should be noted that although the Domestic Abuse Bill has been delayed until the new Queen’s Speech, there is much positive work coming from government legislation such as the Domestic Abuse Homicide reviews (DHRs). There are so many different strands of work, it will be great to see them brought together in one central place, under Nicole Jacob’s leadership.

Before she stepped down as Prime Minister, Theresa May said that she wanted to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of domestic abuse and ensure that councils had a legal duty to provide secure homes for victims and their children. What will be the impact of this decision on social work teams?

processes but unfortunately, unless the victim is high risk and a referral is made, the case is not always looked at as a priority. There is a huge demand for housing; women’s refuges all have waiting lists simply because of a lack of funding, hence the lack of space to accommodate victims and their children. I think that it is potentially a very important step, but it should be noted that there will always be gaps in the policy. For example, what about potential victims from overseas who may not have access to public funds? How will they be protected? If children are involved, it becomes a matter for social care, and it would be funded out of their budget because of Section 17 of the Children’s Act. There’s also the issue that a victim may not necessarily be classed as ‘vulnerable’ which adds increasing complexities to these issues. As you can see, there is a lot of different aspects which need to be fully considered.

It’s been 10 years since the development of the Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour Based Abuse (DASH) Risk Assessment was implemented across police services in the UK. How has this model helped to keep victims safe? I believe that this is a fantastic model and tool because it really works, and I’d like to see social workers make use of it to intervene at a much earlier stage. Currently, in Suffolk alone, 80% of high-risk DASH referrals are made by the police. This shows that the victim calls 999 when they are at crisis point.

Unfortunately, this is something else which still hasn’t happened, primarily because it will be extremely costly. For it to truly work, more funding needs to be available for local authorities to fully manage this.

In my view, if we want to focus on prevention work, healthcare professionals, social workers, education staff and other agencies could be using this model to make referrals at a much earlier stage so that intervention can happen before crisis point.

The housing teams should have domestic abuse policies (most do). Housing teams are involved in Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

For those who aren’t fully aware of the model, it’s a set of 27 (or in some areas 24) questions, which are all asked in a specific order, which can help to

Social Work News - 07

The Feature Interview

Domestic Abuse Statistics • 1 in 5 children are exposed to domestic abuse during childhood • Those children affected by domestic abuse in their early years are four times more likely to go on and experience or perpetrate domestic abuse later in life • 2% of children living with domestic abuse are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others • On average victims at high risk of serious harm or murder live with domestic abuse for 2-3 years before seeking help • 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse

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The Feature Interview

identify the risk of the victim. The level of risk can be classified as standard, medium or high – those who are deemed to be high risk will be referred to a MARAC. The tool uses the questions to identify the risk level, but also allows the practitioner to use their professional judgement as well. This is important because a potential victim may be answering each question, but their body language, eye contact or general demeanour may be saying something different. This is where we can use the tool and reporting to inform our notes. We know from research that “stalking / harassment / strangulation” are high risk indicators to potential murders. What should be made clear is that is a social worker has completed the DASH Risk Assessment and believes that a referral is required; they do not necessarily need the consent of the victim to make that referral. It’s always good practice to try to get their consent first, but if the person hasn’t understood that they are a victim of domestic abuse then they may not believe that it’s necessary. In these instances, the professional should make the referral anyway to safeguard the victim and/or their children. If you are not going to make a referral because you do not believe the situation warrants it, always make sure that you document and record your rationale. Should the victim or their children be murdered or caused significant harm, it will be noted as evidence during a DHR. Often key indicators which always come out in these reviews has been “information wasn’t shared”, so it’s vital that you continue to document your reasons within your reporting.

The DASH questions can be hard to ask; how can social workers feel more comfortable with the lines of questioning? When I run my training courses, we always incorporate role-play elements where I act as a victim. I’ll encourage a delegate to complete a risk assessment and then we can explore how people feel during the assessment. It’s important that the questions are asked in the order that they are written, and using the same phrasing, but you can add as any additional questions where appropriate. In my view, there are some questions which social workers can always ask in every single conversation. • Do you feel safe at home? • How do you spend your day? • What were you like before this relationship? • Did you know that someone will be a victim of domestic abuse 35-40 times before speaking out? These questions are imperative because the first two are so basic, but they can encourage people to really open up about their experiences. It’s also important to help them realise that domestic abuse rarely happens just once. If they realise that it happens multiple times before they tell someone, they may start to understand the seriousness and that it’s not just ‘one incident’; it’s a continual cycle of abuse.

Social Work News - 09

If we look at the Power and Control Wheel, we can help a victim to link together different instances. For example, they may have experienced name-calling on separate occasions months apart. Because of the time frame, they may not link them together, but once they understand that it’s a cycle of abuse which becomes tighter and tighter, they can start to view the situation with greater clarity and understanding.

How can social workers make the most out of the MultiAgency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) process? MARAC’s are a great way to really advocate for the victims. Once a DASH Risk Assessment and referral have been made, the case will be sent to the MARAC administrator, who will bring together a variety of agencies (such as information from health professionals, substance misuse teams, mental health workers, education, housing, probation, etc) and the whole case will be reviewed collectively. I believe that the role of the social worker within these conferences is to be the voice of the victim and to ensure that they are listened to and heard. If there are any issues that the victim is having, this is the opportunity to air them. Within my domestic abuse training, I spend a lot of time talking about the MARAC process which helps social workers to understand what they should be doing to ensure positive outcomes. It’s important to remember that the social workers are not alone, they can call on the help of the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and other partner agencies.

Are there specific issues social workers should be aware of in relation to cultural sensitivities or community beliefs and how can these be addressed? This is where we move into more Honour Based Violence and Abuse (HBV/A) training and knowledge. With these cases, there are issues relating to language, a lack of recourse to public funds and an awareness that professionals should use independent translators – not just family members. I’ve mentioned that a victim of domestic abuse will have experienced 35-40 incidents of domestic abuse before they tell anyone. When you consider cultural aspects, this figure trebles. It’s also important to note that in these instances, we may not be dealing with one perpetrator, it could be many. It’s also much harder when it involves family. We know that it’s incredibly difficult to walk away from a partner, but it’s even worse if you must walk away from your entire family. How do you keep people safe in these instances?

Find out More If you would like to know more about the domestic abuse training led by Bal Kaur Howard, visit or email

Social Work England

Are you ready for Social Work England? In 2016, the Department for Education announced it would set up a new regulatory body for social work in England. The new regulator, Social Work England, will officially take over from the Health and Care Professions Council as of the 02 December 2019. We know that this transition has been concerning members of our social work community, so we passed the questions you sent in onto Social Work England. Here are their responses.

"Will this affect registration?" Social workers in England, who wish to continue to practice, should renew their registration with the current regulator, HCPC. All social workers registered, including those with an address outside of the UK, will be transferred over to Social Work England automatically when we become the regulator on 02 December 2019. Individuals will not have to pay twice or apply twice.

"How do we ensure thorough checks on social workers from overseas to ensure that their qualifications are adequate,

and they are compliant to work in the UK? How can we ensure that they are knowledgeable about our policies and procedures in the UK?" Anyone who has trained to become a social worker outside of England must meet and evidence a number of requirements. Registration will only be granted if we are satisfied that your skills, knowledge, and experience meet our standards. Our registration guidance is currently out for consultation and we welcome any feedback that you may wish to contribute. You can find our proposed

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guidance for international applicants on our website. Please note that these may be amended based on the feedback we gathered during our 10-week consultation period, which finished on 18 October.

"I will be registering to return to social work in February 2020. What does this mean for me?" Our requirements for restoring your registration will be similar to HCPC’s. If you have been out of practice for two years or more, you will need to spend 30 days updating your skills and knowledge through formal study, private study, or supervised practice. If you have been out of practice for five years or more, this will increase to 60 days.

practice, focused articles on social work development, Ofsted recommendations and DFS research?" As part of our work, we aim to gather data and intelligence to raise standards across the profession. Our regional engagement leads will be working with everyone with an interest in social work to ensure we develop a rich picture of the social work landscape. We will also be carrying out research and producing reports relevant to social work in England.

"Have you any plans to ensure social work is more effective customer-driven, and less process-driven hidden behind a computer screen?" We are committed to collaborating and working with everyone who has an interest in social work. We want to make sure that our all our processes and our work with key stakeholders enables social workers to do their jobs in the most effective way.

"What impact will it have on registered social workers?" In terms of the transfer process, we are aiming for this to be as smooth as possible. The transfer, including your payment of fees by direct debit if appropriate, will be automatic for everyone on the register. We will get in touch with you the week commencing 02 December 2019 to reassure you that this has taken place.

"What will the expectation be in terms of renewing registration, and will it be every two years?" Registration renewal with Social Work England will happen annually. We strongly believe that the annual renewal of registration has several benefits. It will ensure regular and ongoing engagement with registrants, will help to keep the public register and contact information about registrants up-to-date and will assure the public that CPD is being undertaken by all social workers regularly.

"I would like to know about the fees and if they will increase?"

attending venues such as schools & other local authorities - the HCPC did not issue them this time on renewal. Has any consideration been given to this being photo ID?"

Should Social Work England consider a change

We are not planning to provide badges. Our

to fees, this will be part of a consultation process

online register will provide up-to-date, searchable

before any changes are made.

information on registrants.

"Will we get a badge with the details of our registration as this was very useful when

"Will there be more resources with the new registration body such as research, good working

Anyone wishing to join the register can apply directly via our website after 02 December 2019. The first direct debit payment for fees will be required on 01 April 2020.

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"For data to be transferred over with the new regulations would all the people who this applies to have to give written consent?" All data held by HCPC will automatically be transferred to Social Work England to ensure that you maintain your registration. Registrants can be reassured that a robust legal process has been followed to secure data sharing agreements.

Find out more If you have any further questions, Social Work England has published a full FAQ section on their website -

“We’re trying to nip youth homelessness in the bud� As street homelessness becomes increasingly visible, we discover how a Norfolk-based charity is working with young people to provide a preventative service. Chris Elliott, Marketing and Fundraising Manager for The Benjamin Foundation, tells us why more services are needed to tackle these issues and how social workers can effectively support young people at risk of becoming homeless.

Youth Homelessness

There are a number of reasons why young people may be at risk of being homeless. For some, it may be that their parents are simply no longer willing or able to take care of them, for others it may be as a result of a breakdown of a relationship with a partner. In some instances, it may be because the person is transitioning into independence after growing up in the care system. According to national homeless charity Centrepoint, more than 100,000 young people in the UK presented to their council in 2017/18 as they were homeless or at risk. But this is just the tip of the scale; after all, there may be thousands of other young people unknown to the system who may be at risk. It’s these people who are being effectively supported by charitable organisations such as The Benjamin Foundation. The Norfolk-based organisation is now celebrating its 25th year, and during that time it has seen a big change in its operations. Marketing and Fundraising Manager Chris Elliott says: “We initially launched in 1994 after the tragic death of a young man named Benjamin Draper. His parents wanted to honour his memory and they wanted to support young people. At the start, we focused on providing youth activities in the rural area where they lived. Through that, we started hearing about the challenges young people had, and for some of them, they confided that family life wasn’t great.” “At that time, there wasn’t anything in North Norfolk which provided accommodation and support for young people who needed it. We opened our first accommodation facility in 1997 with just eight rooms and within a month, we were full.” The Benjamin Foundation now provides a home and support to 100 young people every night and have expanded their services from their initial Norfolk roots into neighbouring counties. The charity is funded by local authority contracts and each young person supported by the Foundation will have a social worker allocated to them. “We’re trying to nip homelessness in the bud” explains Chris. “We support young people by helping them to build their confidence and life skills with the aim that they become independent young people. They can live with us for up to two years and we work closely with them to help them transition into independence when the time is right for them. As well as providing accommodation, we work with them to identify what motivates them, where they see their future and ways in which we can help them on that path. We’ll also provide them with basic living skills such as learning how to cook, clean and budget. It’s all about helping them to support themselves.”

the young people who are living with us have been affected by street homelessness but thankfully most of them haven’t got that far. We’re hoping to be able to help people before the situation escalates to that stage. For those who have come through the care system, we try to be the next bit of support.”

the problem. As soon as we have a vacancy, there’s someone else who can fill it.”

Staff at The Benjamin Foundation regularly work with social work teams from Norfolk and Suffolk Children’s Services to discuss progress, achievements and communicate any risks or worries. The Foundation invites relevant professionals to have input into placement reviews, and similarly, Foundation staff are encouraged to attend and input into statutory reviews. The result is a highly effective working style leading to positive outcomes for those supported by the charity.

To help raise awareness of the issues, The Benjamin Foundation is the East of England representative for a collective of charities called End Youth Homelessness (EYH). The collective regularly collaborate and share best practice case studies of work that they are doing, and they all work across the UK to run fundraising activities. The annual Sleep Out takes place every November and each year, the money raised provides a £150 grant for each young person which may be used to purchase kitchen utensils or smart clothes for a job interview or even a training course. It’s designed to help young people break down the barriers standing between them and successful independent living.

Chris believes it’s important for social workers have a clear understanding and up-to-date knowledge of their local authority’s Youth Homelessness Joint Protocol in order to understand how they can effectively support those at risk. Knowing what financial support is available to young people under Section 17 legislation is essential, as is working closely with Placements Teams and Housing Associations when accommodation is offered under Section 20 legislation. To ensure effective working, he recommends that social workers should prioritise ensuring that relevant and up-to-date paperwork is completed and sent to potential providers.

Focusing upon prevention

Increasing awareness of the issues relating to homelessness

Whilst some of the young people referred to The Benjamin Foundation may have been brought up within the care system, many others have come through as a result of a family breakdown. Chris describes The Benjamin Foundation as a “prevention service.” He says: “Every story is different. Some of

When it comes to the wider issues relating to youth homelessness, Chris believes there is greater awareness and public perception is that there’s something wrong. He says “Over the last 25 years, there’s been a big growth in need. Whilst we can support 100 people at a time, it’s not fully tackling

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“When I started, I found that issues relating to homelessness weren’t on people’s radar, but the growing visibility of homelessness is starting to open people’s eyes to the scale of the problem.”

Chris concludes: “The Sleep Out is the most important fundraising activity that we do. Last year across Ipswich and Norwich we raised £48,000 thanks to the 175 people who took part. This is replicated across the UK so it’s clear to see what a huge impact it can have.” “We’re hoping to make this year bigger than ever before and I know that every member of the EYH is keen to raise awareness of the Sleep Out nationally.”

Find out More Discover the regional charities working in partnership with End Youth Homelessness (EYH) and learn about the Sleep Out 2019 by visiting To learn more about the work undertaken by The Benjamin Foundation, visit benjaminfoundation. or contact


A view from the streets As we continue our insights into the issues relating to homelessness, we learn about the experiences of Andy Palfreyman, a man who has spent a large part of his life living on the streets. Carla Maurer, Reverend at the Swiss Church in London tells us about Andy’s story and explains how basic conversations and simple acts of kindness can make a big difference to the life of a person who is homeless.


Andy Palfreyman lived on the streets of London for nearly 30 years. A family breakdown and disagreements with his parents caused him to leave home at the age of 19. After running out of money, he wandered through the streets of London until exhaustion set in and he slept rough for the first time. Days became weeks, and weeks became years, and homelessness became the new norm. He saw his father one more time, but then lost touch. Years later he learnt that his mother, father and both siblings had died which sent him further down the vicious cycle of homelessness, depression and alcohol abuse.

A number of chance encounters led to a change of perspective. He met people who saw him as an equal, were non-judgemental and empowered him to pursue his dream of photographing his past and present ‘homes’ on the streets of London. Andy started to believe in himself again and began to second guess his own conviction that he was meant to live and die in the streets by his own choice. Through his volunteering work with the Swiss Church’s outreach programme ‘Breakfast on the Steps’, he met people from the Simon Community who offered him a room; Andy has been on and off the streets ever since he works as a receptionist at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church and as a church warden at the Swiss Church. His biggest dream is to have a place of his own, yet the way out of homelessness is a long and complex journey, although he has a roof over his head, for now, most of the time his situation remains fragile and he struggles with episodes of depression and physical health issues.

The positive impact of social workers. In his mid-twenties, Andy regularly went to the day centre at St Martin-in-the-Fields where he could shower and get clean clothes. One day he met Brian, a social worker, who was one-of-a-kind and loved by everybody. He was there for him. Nothing was too much trouble. Brian helped him move into the Emmaus community in Brighton where he stayed for a while. What made Brian so special was that he was non-judgemental and treated him as an equal, an experience that is often missing in a homeless person’s everyday life. Brian came into the waiting room, smiled, shook his hand and said: “Hi mate,

same hymn sheet. Andy has had disappointing experiences with social workers too. Some don’t seem to understand what it means to spend several bad nights in a row, tossing and turning and getting lost in dark thoughts. If you go to a meeting, completely exhausted, all you might need is an uplifting experience and not someone telling you off for being in a bad place. It can also be hard sometimes to talk about your life situation again and again when all you want is some perspective, a positive affirmation or someone to sit with you. Andy has observed positive change too. Social workers are more diverse which helps to better understand people with different backgrounds within

"For Andy, the ideal social worker is someone who "doesn’t promise you anything but tries to get you everything." how are you doing?” Another social worker gave Andy cigarettes and would smoke with him in his office, which would be unthinkable today. Many things have changed since. Andy feels that for many social workers their occupation has become more of a job than a vocation. Stricter regulations and financial cuts have led to an atmosphere that feels as if everybody was reading from the

the homeless community. People find someone to talk to in their language. For Andy, the ideal social worker is someone who “doesn’t promise you anything but tries to get you everything.”

Dreams can come true Andy has pursued his dream of photography. In December 2015 he showed his first single exhibition

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‘Cardboard and Caviar’ at the Swiss Church with photos of various doorways and street corners where he used to sleep. The exhibition was also shown in Zurich, and Andy had the opportunity to show some of his work at the Museum of Homelessness. Andy does talks and walking tours for youth groups to raise awareness for the complex nature of homelessness, which he hugely enjoys. It is also therapeutic as he can tell people from all walks of life about his experiences and see their minds shifting. For his second exhibition ‘Looking Down’, Andy lowered his gaze: “When you are street homeless you tend to look down and notice things most of the general public don’t see. It strikes a chord with me, why it’s there, how it got there, and I photograph it. Some of these things can be upsetting, but I see it from a homeless person’s point of view. For example, once a homeless guy walked past me, it just started to rain, and he left footprints on the wet pavement. I call this photograph 'The Invisible Homeless'.”

Find Out More. Andy’s photos can be purchased for £70 each – to purchase a copy, simply email carla.maurer@ Alternatively, to find out more about Andy’s photography exhibitions or learn more about the Swiss Church, please visit

Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert In our ‘Ask the Experts’ column, we’ve asked some high profile figures from the social work progression to answer the questions you are asking. If you’d like to submit a question for a future issue of Social Work News, please email or find us on our social media channels @myswnews

Meet the Panellists.

Kate Purser, Recruitment Director, Frontline.

"How will people be attracted to the profession in the future?" Sarah, Principal Social Worker, East Sussex Social work is a life-changing career, attracting different people for a whole range of reasons. We asked some of the alumni from our programmes about why they first wanted to become social workers and the most common responses were to make a real difference, to interact with diverse communities and to do a job that doesn’t involve being at a desk all day. As the world becomes

Maris Stratulis, National Director, BASW England.

Rob Mitchell, Social Work Awards Trustee. @RobMitch92

increasingly uncertain and complicated, the next few years will present an opportunity to draw an increasing number of people into the profession.

must help people realise they can play an important

Firstly, it’s important to share the aspirational benefits of the role: the challenge and reward, the impact, the diversity of the workforce and the professional development opportunities. The profession requires resilience, but we also need to reassure people that with training and support, social workers can thrive.

that’s traditional university-based routes, fast-

Then there are role modelling successes. Stories of great social work and evidence of positive impact made in communities by social workers are vital. We

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part in transforming lives. Finally, there is a mixed economy of training routes into social work, whether tracked training or apprenticeships. Each caters for people at different stages of life and from different backgrounds. This offers a greater opportunity to attract different people into the profession and we should celebrate the diversity that this mix will bring into the workforce. The social work landscape is changing, and we need to celebrate all that it brings. Kate Purser, Recruitment Director, Frontline

Ask the Expert

"Social workers in children's services are often automatically associated with the removal of children from families. How can we help to change this stigma?" Hazel, Social Worker, Surrey The most important aspect of a children’s social worker role is building relationships with children and families and working in partnership to achieve the best outcomes for each individual child. This means supporting children to remain with families wherever possible. Unfortunately, as a profession, the reports in the media are often factually incorrect or focus on the negative which further contributes to the stigma and does not accurately reflect the different roles and responsibilities of social workers. Social workers need to be proud of their work, promote their role and be supported to speak out in order to address how the profession is portrayed. One aspect of this is social workers representing themselves in the media and employers giving social workers permission to do so, in addition to celebrating the significant rewards and achievement of working with children and families. Only by sharing the true nature of social work can we change the narrative portrayed in the media and within wider society. Maris Stratulis, National Director, BASW England

"Do you feel that specialism’s in adult social work should be valued and protected?" Rosalie, Social Worker, Cornwall In the main, social work education and training is generic and this reflects that social work is at its best when it is united through its commonality which is in its values and approach. However once qualified there remains a compelling argument that social work specialisms, in terms of adult and children's social work, is required. This is because primary legislation for children and adults is significantly different and as such leads to a natural separation in terms of how social work is mobilised, particularly across local authorities, education and the NHS. Our concern needs to be around the demand to further segregate social work within children’s and adult services. Within adult social work, my response to social workers who request that their role is ‘specialist’ in its approach is that social work itself is the specialism and cannot and should not be defined further. The legislation that governs health and social care for adults is generic (Care Act, Mental Health Act, Mental Capacity Act) and not specific to user groups, therefore, the argument that the separation between adult and children's social work can be further expanded into user group-specific specialism is invalid. Any adult at any time can be subject to the same legal framework which governs the lives of all adults regardless of social care involvement or not. Therefore, it makes little sense to define social work.

Whilst adult social workers may glean extra knowledge relating to health conditions, this in itself does not enhance the specialism of social work. Rob Mitchell, Principal Social Worker, Honorary Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University

"If social workers are in such short supply, why are admin support jobs being cut leaving social workers to do more at their desk? Munro said the balance should be 80/20 but currently it is 20/80!" Anonymous, Social Worker We are facing unprecedented times regarding pressures upon local authorities to make budget savings and vital administrative support jobs are being cut or administrative services re-configured. This is resulting in the transfer of additional administrative responsibilities onto social workers and directly impacting upon social workers having less quality time to invest and build relationships with families and children.

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This links to BASW England’s 80/20 campaign, which found that social workers spend 80% of their time at the computer or completing paperwork and only 20% in direct contact with children and families building relationships. The cut in admin staff has exacerbated this problem. The campaign seeks to address this balance and improve and change working conditions. This, in turn, will improve outcomes and create opportunities for social workers to spend more quality time with children and families, truly focusing on relationshipbased social work. Relationship-based social work practice takes time, commitment and investment. These cuts are shortsighted and endanger best social work practice. I urge you, your colleagues and employers to join the 80/20 campaign - children, families, social workers and colleagues must work together to reverse this trend which is impacting upon the provision of relationship-based social work practice and thus having a fundamentally negative impact upon the lives of children and families. Visit to make your pledge. Maris Stratulis, National Director, BASW England

The Legal Column

Making the most of your courtroom experience Heading to court can be extremely stressful – after all, the outcomes that you’ve been fighting for will be finally decided by the judge. We speak to a family law solicitor to find out, from his perspective how social workers can make practical changes to improve their courtroom skills.

What are the family courts trying to achieve? The best interest of the child or children is paramount and it’s the main consideration of the court when reaching their decision. Parents may not necessarily agree with the plan that has been set out by the social workers, so it’s up to the social worker to justify their decision and provide evidence to the court that their plan is the right one. The court will listen to every side and will take a balanced view of the best interest of the child.

Going to court can be distressing for families, whether it’s the result of a family breakdown or a child protection issue. How do you think the courts can make the process easier for families to

understand what is happening? We know that in general, most people have never seen the inside of a courtroom so it can be extremely daunting. There are some things that social workers can do to help work with families to make the process easier for families. For instance, within magistrates’ courts, there are posters which show the layout of where everyone sits but these are often tucked away. I felt it would be beneficial if something like this was provided to all families when they are given notice of proceedings. It starts to help them understand what to expect. If someone has a solicitor, then they should be advised on this, but more people are going to court without representation so it's important that we help to set expectations. From a child’s perspective, luckily, it’s extremely rare that a child is asked to come to court. It’s the role of the Cafcass representative to ensure that their voice is heard, but if a child is asked to come (perhaps they

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are older) it should be explained to them in detail beforehand so that they do not feel overwhelmed. There have been some cases when a child has had to provide evidence, but the courts continually put their welfare first. They will work around the child to make the process as easy as possible – this may be through pre-recording interviews outside of the courtroom and preventing any cross-examination. In some cases, video interviews may even be transcribed to protect the child.

During cross-examinations, social workers may feel that their professional judgement is being undermined. What advice would you give to a practitioner to help them keep their confidence and push for the most appropriate outcome? It’s all about preparation. If the social worker has

The Legal Column

"A practical tip is to always address any answers directly to the judge. I may be asking the questions, but it’s the judge who is listening." come to the courtroom having done everything that they should have, then they’ll be fine. But unfortunately, I’ve come across instances where they’ve said that they’ll do something, but they haven’t – often due to time restrictions. It may be something as simple as saying that they’ll chase up a referral or passing on information to a parent. If it hasn’t been done, then it’s easy for me as a solicitor to jump onto this as part of my cross-examination. From my perspective, everything is about sticking to their recommendations and being confident with it. Social workers will have spent hours establishing a plan of action and it’s clearly what they think is to achieve the best possible outcome, so they need to have confidence with it. They need to stick up for their plan in the face of questioning. I would also recommend that social workers give credit to parents where its due. There can be a tendency to brush off any efforts made by parents because it’s felt that it weakens their case. But I disagree. I think if a family has been making a

significant effort to make changes then it should be recognised by the court. It may not necessarily be enough to keep them together but to me, it shows a much more balanced case. It strengthens your evidence and shows that you’ve considered every possible aspect and still drawn the same conclusion. That’s what the courts should be looking for.

In care proceedings, the social worker’s role is often to be a professional witness. How can they ensure that their evidence is appropriate? Social workers will have their framework which will set out what their evidence should look like, and as with everything it’s all about preparation and making the correct enquiries. Obviously, the number one outcome is to always keep children with their parents. Social workers need to provide evidence which shows that they’ve done

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everything they can to improve the situation and keep them together. They need to document what they’ve done to assist the situation and show how they’ve helped. If they’ve done all their preparation, they can feel confident about their evidence.

What advice would you give to someone to help them present their evidence effectively? Once a social worker has presented their written evidence to the court, they need to make sure that their verbal evidence matches this. They’ll be able to refer to their written evidence in front of them, but everything is about being honest, truthful and having convictions in their recommendations. A practical tip is to always address any answers directly to the judge. I may be asking the questions, but it’s the judge who is listening. Those who turn to face the judge and maintain eye contact show a greater level of confidence.

Missing People

Raising awareness of the unidentified bodies database Each year, 186,000 people are reported missing in the UK. We speak with Josie Allan, Policy & Campaigns Manager at Missing People, a charity dedicated to helping reunite missing children and adults with their families. Josie tells us about an online database, which is run by the National Crime Agency’s UK’s Missing Persons Unit, and explains why it’s beneficial to raise awareness amongst the social work community.

Missing People provides support and advice for families when a person has gone missing. Can you tell us about your services? At the crux of our services is our free, confidential helpline which operates 24/7. It’s run by trained volunteers and staff to offer specialist support for people who have gone missing and the families dealing with the trauma of coping with the disappearance of a loved one.

are taking part in media interviews. We know that they are motivated to do what they can to keep the search in the public eye so we help them cope with the pressures that media attention can bring.

When a person goes missing, what is the typical process to help find them safe and sound? As soon as you suspect that a person has gone missing, you should report it to the police who will lead the investigation.

We provide emotional support as well as practical and financial guidance when a loved one has gone missing. We can also offer families of long-term missing people free telephone counselling.

As a charity, we become involved if the police believe that the missing person could benefit from publicity or if their family could require additional support from us.

We also work hard to publicise appeals to help find missing people across different forms of media, typically using posters, social media, and our website. Soon we will begin hosting appeals on digital advertising boards around the country. As part of this work, we provide support to families who

When a missing person returns, what wider support is needed from social workers to help address any issues which led to their initial disappearance and Social Work News - 20

reduce the risk of them going missing again? Consultations with returned missing people have shown that people want the space to talk about why they went missing, what is happening in their lives, and what happened while they were away. Everyone’s needs will vary and any intervention upon return from missing should be voluntary, however, it is vital that the option for support is there for everyone. Missing is often a warning sign of wider problems in someone’s life; any social workers who are in contact with someone who has been missing should consider what might be going on. They should provide meaningful opportunities for the returned person to speak about what has happened, and support that person in accessing any further services that they might need. Agencies should have clear procedures for engaging people who have returned from missing, and effective pathways for referring people who are identified as vulnerable or in need of support.

Missing People

Your research report “A Safer Return” highlighted the importance of Return Home Interviews (RHIs) with returned missing children. How can social work teams use these interviews to provide follow up support and improve wider safeguarding measures to reduce the risk of serious harm and trauma? RHIs should be used as an opportunity for early identification of risks to address a range of different harms associated with missing. RHIs are a vital tool as missing may often be the first warning sign that a child may need additional support. They are one of the very few professional safeguarding interventions which are not reliant on the child meeting specific, often high, thresholds for a particular ‘type’ of risk. When the risk is identified or the child discloses that they have been the victim of harm, it is important that RHIs are followed by the opportunity for further support. RHIs may aid the identification of risk, but a one-off conversation is not enough to be considered as effective support for children who have experienced trauma, have complex needs or are at ongoing risk. Finally, the information disclosed by young people during RHIs should be effectively shared, recorded and included in safety planning, in line with the child’s consent. Valuable information can be gathered during an RHI, sometimes including disclosures which have previously gone unheard. This information can be crucial to the future safeguarding of that child and potentially other children, for example, those at risk from the same perpetrators of exploitation. Information disclosed during an RHI should be shared with relevant agencies, including the police, children’s services, residential placements, and other agencies when appropriate.

On the UK Missing Persons Unit website, there is a full database which matches missing people and unidentified bodies, so their loved ones can find out what has happened. You’re helping to raise awareness about this website. Why is it so important to have a database like this? This database is run by the National Crime Agency’s UK’s Missing Persons Unit, but as a charity, we are committed to raising awareness about it. Families of missing people have told us that getting closure can help people dealing with the trauma of having a loved one missing We regularly talk about the concept of 'ambiguous loss'. Pauline Boss described it as “the most

distressful of all losses”. In relation to missing people, because the loss is never ‘verified’, the natural human need for meaning, sense, security, knowledge, finality, and rituals are denied to the family. The ambiguity of not knowing where someone is can prevent the grief process, often preventing one’s ability to effectively process the situation emotionally, cope or make decisions.

You are specifically seeking to raise awareness of this database amongst the social work community. Why is it so important for social service departments to be aware of this database? We believe that social workers and other healthcare professionals can help in this process by signposting people to the database which can be accessed via our website. We want to be used as an additional resource for social workers because our trained team can provide practical and emotional support – specifically using our Missing People’s helpline.

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Additionally, there is evidence that people who go missing may become homeless. On the database, there are identifying features of people who have been found dead but not identified, and they could enable their family or a professional who has worked with them to be able to identify them. This can be emotionally upsetting so we would always advise caution and that people seek support if they are looking for a missing loved one, but it can enable them to gain closure and prevent the trauma relating to the ambiguous loss.

Find out more. To discover more about Missing People please visit, to view the missing person’s database please visit Alternatively, please email PolicyandResearch@ Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Missing People is able to keep its free confidential helpline open 24/7. To access the helpline, call 116 000 or email 116000@

Changing Services

Are you thinking about switching between services? When you begin your social work career, the first decision you will have to make is to choose whether you wish to work in children’s or adult services. But that initial decision shouldn’t limit you. We speak with social worker Lorraine to find out more about her experiences from moving away from children’s social work and joining an adult social work team.

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Changing Services

What is your current social work role? I’m currently working in a frontline role within an adult social work team. My job is to assess the situation once a referral has come through from a professional or a family member. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, I may have to either close the case or set up a package of care. This can include moving the adult into sheltered accommodation or respite care. It’s a very different job role compared to working within a frontline position in children’s services.

Throughout your career, you’ve spent considerable time working across both children’s services and adult services. How would you describe the key differences between the two? In my opinion, there are two main differences. The first is the legislation which underpins the work – each service has completely different areas of law which you need to be aware of. The second difference is the service user’s wider network. When you’re working with children, the network of professionals involved is a lot wider because you may be liaising with schools, school nurses, health visitors, etc. In contrast, with adults, there are circumstances where there may be no one else involved other than the adult and their GP.

How do the pressures of each service compare? In my experience, I’ve found that within children’s services there are much tighter frameworks and faster timescales; these put added pressure on the social worker. It’s incredibly difficult to complete all the work required, particularly when you’re working on multiple cases and having to juggle other working commitments such as statutory visits and duty work. With adult services, there isn’t that same level of pressure. The timescales only really exist when there is a safeguarding concern. There is still a lot of work to be done but it’s a different type of pressure.

Do you prefer working with children or adults? Can you explain why? I prefer working in children’s services. Like any social worker, I like to think that I can make a difference to that child or young person’s situation. It’s why we train as social workers because we want to be able to make a positive impact. With the older adults that I am currently working with, a lot of them are near the end of their life. My role is to ensure that I’m doing everything that I can to ensure that they have access to the specific services which meet their needs. It’s still having made a difference to the quality of a person’s life, but it feels different.

If a social worker wanted to switch from children’s services to working with adults (or vice versa), would they need to undertake any additional training to update their knowledge/skills? Throughout my career, I have worked across quite a few different service user groups, including adults with learning disabilities. If a social worker has regularly changed roles and worked across different teams, then they’ll know that every single team will have their own processes to complete workflows. For those switching from children’s social care to adult services (or vice versa) then they would need to be confident that they are aware of the different legislation and what processes are in place for that team’s remit. I found that once you’re in the role, you can focus on specific areas of training where you know that there is a gap in knowledge. There is also a certain level of training which takes place simply from working alongside your colleagues and learning from their experience.

Were there any specific pieces of legislation you needed to be aware of once you transferred to adult social work? Yes, I had to learn specifically about the Care Act, and the Mental Capacity Act because these aren’t relevant to children’s social work. Once I had undertaken training regarding safeguarding process, and how the Mental Capacity Assessment is conducted, then the work became much easier.

How does a ‘typical’ day in adult services compare to that of a children’s social worker? Social Work News - 23

In an adult social work environment, it’s usually a lot calmer. The work is still pressurised but there’s not the fast-past frantic feel that can be found within children’s services. A typical day is visiting one service user, then going back to the office and discussing their needs with the manager. Once the manager agrees with what the social worker is proposing then the work is primarily focused on typing up the assessment and completing the support plan and brokerage form. Children’s services are completely different. There is a lot more meetings and collaborative work with other professionals. This means that the work is much faster-paced, especially if you have a high number of caseloads.

Having worked across both areas, has your perspective of social work changed? For me, it highlighted that social work doesn't mean one thing. It’s easy to develop a specific perspective of social work when you’re focused on one group. The work varies so much depending on what service group you are working with, so it has really helped me to understand the depth of the profession.

What advice would you give to a social worker who is considering moving across to adult services from a children’s social work background? My advice would be that if you want to try it, then do so. Don’t be put off – if it’s something that interests you then you should always push yourself. It’s a totally different remit being an adult social worker than being a children’s social worker. I feel privileged that I have been able to make the cross between the two. But I also like to challenge myself, and that’s what it felt like crossing over.

Play Therapy

Helping children to communicate through play Play therapy can be an extremely effective way of encouraging young children to explain how they are feeling. We find out from trainer, author and certified play therapist, Amanda Seyderhelm, why children respond well to this type of therapy, and how social workers can incorporate elements into their work with children and families.

What is play therapy and why is it so important? Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which play is used as a means of helping children express or communicate their feelings. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play provides a safe psychological distance from these and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development. Whether it’s the grief of bereavement, the strain of divorce or the uncertainty of a new home or school following adoption, I have treated children successfully with play therapy. The benchmark for success is when the presenting problem either reduces significantly or disappears completely. For example, a child who is having regular meltdowns learns how to express their discomfort (frustration and anxiety are the most likely reactions as a result of not being heard) in a way that doesn’t get them ‘into trouble’. This might mean that a child who can’t settle in the classroom, will eventually be able to get through their lessons without shouting out or standing up.

You focus on supporting children who have experienced loss and change. Why does play therapy work so well for these children?

Play is a child’s natural language. Its how primary school children make sense of their world because at that age they do not have the cognitive development to talk directly about their feelings. Therefore, adults need to go into the child’s world and use the language of play. The play therapy toolkit contains a basic number of creative art mediums, set out by PTUK (Play Therapy UK), the UK’s leading accrediting body for play therapy. This toolkit gives children ways to discover the meaning of their loss without addressing it directly and consists of drawing and painting, sand play, music, puppets, movement and drama, masks, therapeutic storytelling, and dressing up. The child chooses which medium to play with during each session and uses it to tell the story of how they are feeling.

Is play therapy just for younger children? Play therapy can be used with children as young as two, all the way up to 18 years. In the youngest age group, up to eight years of age, it is most likely that the play therapy will be ‘indirect’ in scope, whereas for the older age groups, it will be more ‘direct’. Both can be used at some point with any age group. The decision on which approach to use is determined by the level of cognitive development the child has. An older child is more likely to want to talk about their feelings directly, whereas a younger child is more likely to discuss these through

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metaphorical language. A trained play therapist is skilled at being able to recognise and tailor the approach according to the child’s needs because play therapy is child-centered.

You describe your approach by using a “backpack” metaphor. Can you explain what you mean by this? All children (and adults) carry what I call an ‘invisible backpack’. This contains their emotional baggage of worries, anxieties and fears. When a child’s behaviour starts to show signs of stress, it is usually because the emotional load in their backpack has become too heavy. This means they are feeling overwhelmed by their baggage and have no way of offloading it. They need a person and space to be able to take some of their baggage out and process it. That’s what happens in play therapy. The aim is to lighten their backpack load so that they have more room in their heads to be able to express themselves in a way that is comfortable for them.

What are some common behavioural signs that indicate a child may be suffering and could benefit from play therapy? The most common behavioural sign, the one I see most in my practice, is child meltdowns, where the child is having regular angry outbursts at

home and at school. Associated with this will be poor concentration and focus as well as a general unwillingness to observe boundaries. This is most commonly associated with the grief of bereavement, the strain of divorce or the uncertainty of a new home or school following adoption. All of these associations are what we call external triggers for the child. If the child has people around them who can help them express their feelings during these transitions, they will not be as affected by the triggers. However, when adults are struggling with their own feelings, and I see this in all of these associations, this reduces the child’s capacity to cope, especially in the early years' age group, where their language has not yet developed to the point where they can articulate clearly how they feel.

child and social worker, they should also know the difference between their story and the child’s (this part is critical for therapeutic engagement and development and helps the social worker to avoid getting stuck) in the therapeutic process. These elements are included in my professional training workshops. Social workers on my courses who have learnt how to work with transference and countertransference have told me they feel less stressed and more resilient. I liken this to knowing which container to decant into. Conversely, if you don’t know, you are more at risk of overloading your containers which puts you quickly into a situation of feeling overwhelmed.

Can you tell us more about your What are the necessary tools for training workshops? a social worker to create their I run a one-day CPD accredited training course own dedicated play therapy kit? on ‘how to cope with bereavement in childhood Play therapy is a recognised and accredited four-year training and I recommend that social workers look at what’s involved in this if they are interested in adding play therapy to their skills. Yet it is possible to include some aspects of the play therapy toolkit, such as therapeutic storytelling, drawing, and painting kit into the social worker’s toolkit. Additionally, social workers need to have knowledge of how to create a therapeutic frame with the child; how to hold and contain the child’s emotional story, how to work with transference and countertransference that arises typically between

development’. This teaches social workers how to use and incorporate therapeutic storytelling into their toolkit when they are dealing with bereaved children and families. It is unique in that it teaches professionals how to identify and overcome any obstacles they may be facing in their own life, especially in relation to adult bereavements, which can often get in the way if they remain unresolved. By learning the building blocks of therapeutic storytelling as it applies to them, professionals learn how to introduce this framework to children.

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You’re a published author and have written several books for both children and professionals on the subjects such as trauma and bereavement. How can social workers use these books to inform their practice? It’s useful to see my books as prompts when working with children. The stories provide a therapeutic framework for the social worker to begin a conversation with the child. Use the story to explore the child’s feelings; this indirect exploration will help them open up to the social worker. My new book, 'Helping Children Cope with Loss and Change: A guide for professionals and parents' (Routledge) explains whether it’s the grief of bereavement, the strain of divorce or the uncertainty of a new home or school. Loss and change can affect children in countless ways. Nevertheless, professionals and parents frequently find themselves ill-equipped to help children struggling with the difficult feelings that these situations, and others like them, can bring.

Want to know more? To purchase 'Helping Children Cope with Loss and Change: A guide for professionals and parents' please visit To find out more about Amanda, or to view details of her training programmes, visit Alternatively, phone 01572 492 060

Book Review

Discover the latest social work textbooks Thanks to Jessica Kingsley Publishing, we’re delighted to be able to share details of some of the latest textbooks to hit the news stands. This issue, we have an array of tomes which are sure to help you improve your knowledge and expertise relating to all areas of social work. As always, if you’d like to be entered into a free prize draw to win this fantastic selection of books, please email us with your name, job title and address to

The Simple Guide to Attachment Difficulties in Children

New Theories for Social Work Practice

Social Work with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants

Betsy de Thierry, £8.99

Edited by Robyn Munford and Kieran O’Donoghue, £24.99

Edited by Lauren Wroe, Rachel Larkin, and Reima Ana Maglajlic, £22.99

At first glance, this looks like a book you will immediately want to pick up and read. The illustrations by Emma Reeves help to bring the topic to life. This is an easy-to-read guide which provides clear answers to three primary questions;

As social work continues to develop and evolve, so do the models and theory that practice is based upon. This book explains what the latest developments are within social work practice and explains how social workers can use them.

Described as “thought-provoking and useful” this book will “challenge professionals’ ideas on what good social work practice looks like.”

1. What are attachment difficulties?

The book is split into four key sections; all of which are designed to cover an array of areas of expertise.

2. How do they affect children? 3. How can you help? The book is packed full of advice and ideas and is written in a style which allows readers to dip in and out at their leisure. It’s a must-read for anyone looking after children with attachment difficulties.

1. Working with people in their environment 2. Developing communities 3. Practice Approaches 4. Informed and Ethical Practice Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex, describes the book as “making an important contribution to reconceptualising the theoretical basis for social work.”

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As social work practice increasingly involves working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, it’s important that practitioners understand how to work with these groups, each having their own unique challenges. The book is packed full of first-person narratives which helps readers to really understand the perspective of refugees. The book is written in a digestible format, with each chapter focusing upon a key knowledge area, allowing practitioners to quickly find what they are looking for.

Faith and Ethics in Health and Social Care Edited by Ann Gallagher and Christopher Herbert, £19.99 In today’s multicultural and multifaith society, understanding how to support care recipients can lead to many questions relating to faith and ethics. This book is designed to help readers understand how a person’s faith can inform the way that they work. It is written by medical, nursing and social care practitioners from across 11 different faiths and will help readers become more reflective in matters relating to faith, ethics and care.

Supporting Birth Parents whose The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting – the Children Have Been Adopted Teen Years Edited by Joanne Alper, £22.99 “It belongs on the desk of everyone involved in policy and practice for vulnerable families” Dr. Sue Armstrong Brown, CEO, Adoption UK Practitioners working in child protection will know that the needs of the child are always placed at the forefront, but what about the needs of the birth parents if a child is adopted? This book, written by Joanne Alper, Director of AdoptionPlus, looks at the emotional challenges faced by parents after their child has been adopted. The book is designed to help social workers understand how they can fully support parents and it clearly demonstrates a wide range of models for intervention. It’s a fantastic tool which can be used to help social workers improve their practice.

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Sally Donovan, £14.99 Although aimed towards parents rather than social workers, this is a fantastic book which practitioners can refer parents to. This book is written by an adoptive parent and focuses specifically upon the teenage years; a time where early years trauma can be a difficult ball game for parents. Sally Donovan has used her own experience to help motivate parents and lift their spirits, whilst simultaneously providing them with therapeutic techniques to care for vulnerable teenagers. Her writing style is warm and welcoming, and readers are drawn in thanks to her wit and charm.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say This issue, we’ve been talking to our social workers about issues relating to training and career development. We know that this is a hot topic for many of you, so it has been a pleasure to learn how you think that training opportunities should be improved for social workers, regardless of what stage they are at in their careers. You can let us know whether you agree with our community through our social media channels @myswnews or email us directly via

How can we improve training, progression and career development opportunities for social work professionals? “Ensuring training is relevant to all areas of social work. Good academic and practical support. Opportunities for more specialised training.” Marion, Student Social Worker “Firstly, give social workers the time to undertake training without feeling pressures to keep their cases up-to-date. This means finding a real back up support (e.g having a social worker covering caseloads while training is undertaken so that the person can focus and embrace the training). Secondly have some quality training that gives social workers tools for practice; e.g conflict resolution, real case scenarios.” Diana, Independent Social Worker “Ensure those practice teachers and assessors (I was both) are regularly assessed and accountable. I have witnessed poor practice being passed on to students.” Sue, Retired Social Worker “Social workers to be given the time and opportunity to undertake career development. Often, it is difficult for social workers to comprehend undertaking training as their caseload is so high.” Amy, Newly Qualified Social Worker

“The only opportunities it appears within social work progression seems to be management or to remain as a social worker. More career development opportunities would be good to use social work skills and retain enthusiasm which I feel is not utilised, you see people leaving, taking their experience with them.” Tanya, Independent Social Worker

What can be done to improve ASYE experiences? “To make more ASYE experiences and jobs available. Allow students to change to adults or children halfway through if they wish to do so.” Almira, Student Social Worker “As an ASYE, acknowledgement needs to be given to the fact that Newly Qualified Social Workers are not experienced. During my ASYE I have had constant battles with myself, knowing I should say no to certain cases or workload because I do not want to be seen as somebody that is not competent at their job. I am a very passionate social worker, however, ASYE's are feeling overwhelmed in their first year which is resulting in them learning upon completion. NQSW’s need a designated team around them who can support and provide guidance where needed. A clear structure and requirements set out throughout the different stages of the first year.” Amy, Newly Qualified Social Worker

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“Slow down the learning with more investment in mentoring, where qualified mentors work consistently alongside new social workers, real investment in the workforce saves money and improves practice” Nicki, Head of Service “Fund social work provision in local authorities so that they can do the job properly. This will mean they can invest time and effort into staff development.” T, Service Manager “ASYE experiences need to be varied to try and cover as many areas as possible. They need to be allowed to shadow, but also be shadowed with an experienced social worker. They should also have lots of reflective discussions about how they felt (value-based thoughts) and also about how they felt they managed the situations and how they could do it differently next time. They should be encouraged to use their own life experiences to draw upon their relationship-building but without sharing too much of their life to family (they need to learn this fine balance).” Diana, Independent Social Worker “Discuss with others to share skills and experience” Sue, Retired Social Worker “More exposure to work opportunities across social work which would enable social workers to be appropriately trained and have knowledge of

Have Your Say

other teams and areas that they may like to work in. Also, they should not be used as normal workers. Their experience needs to be well supported and monitored.” Tanya, Independent Social Worker “Ensure the managers and senior practitioner have a rolling programme so that good practice can be embedded. Contract of expectation to be adhered to. Having somewhere to turn if needed. Match skills more carefully to team needs, individual needs and strengths.” Sarah, Principle Fostering Manager

Social media has changed the complexities of safeguarding both children and adults. Abuse, grooming, radicalisation, contact with birth families and increase risk of sexual exploitation can all arise as a result of digital media. How can social workers successfully manage these online risks? “To receive up-to-date training to make them aware of the risks when working with young people who are more knowledgeable about using social media. This training would be useful as a multi-agency approach to share information.” Tanya, Social Worker “Children are mostly at home when using social media or out and about in the community, and so this is something that a visiting social worker cannot monitor fully. However, they can find ways of teaching parents about safe monitoring and most importantly, this should be about teaching and guiding parents around their responsibilities. As social workers we need to be supporting, teaching and guiding parents on how to manage online risks.” Diana, Social Worker “Clarity about what social workers can do - the conflict between the need to protect and the rights of families for privacy, even in public social media sites, is confusing” T, Service Manager “Currently social workers often do not address the risks posed by social media. Young mayors, youth advisors, and specialist police and forensic staff need to be engaged in a feedback loop to the safeguarding partnerships to enable timely and accurate assessment and response.” Nicki, Head of Service “Whilst social workers can undertake direct work and attend social media courses which highlight the risks associated, it needs to be a wider community approach. Social workers alone cannot manage such risks, children need to be educated in the educational sector as well as by their families and caregivers.” Amy, Newly Qualified Social Worker “To use child-friendly exercises to gain insight into the child's risks and dangers. Discuss those risks to both children and parents. Confirm there are locks and passwords installed on devices as well as parental controls installed” Laura, Social Worker

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Social Work Circle

“We need each other now more than ever” Closing the gaps between care providers is a daily role for social workers – you have to liaise with GPs, hospitals, housing teams and many others to support people in the best way; the same is true with private providers. We spoke to Paul Burley, founder of Burley’s Home Care, about his experiences of multidisciplinary care and how it works in practice for his clients.

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Social Work Circle

There’s an African proverb that says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and the same concept is true as we get older. Thanks to advances in modern medicine we can live longer with multiple healthcare or mobility challenges, but many of us need support from different sources to stay as well and independent as possible. I started Burley’s Home Care in 2009 with my wife Carly. Between us, we had years of personal and professional experience of home care and had seen first-hand the real difference it can make having specialised care from experienced professionals. We wanted to be able to provide the care and support that we had seen people in need of, and I’m proud to say that ten years later we’re still doing that. One thing I’ve known from the very start is that to truly support our clients we need to work with them, their carers, families and a range of other professionals such as social workers, community teams, mental health teams, and GPs. By working as a team, we can fully understand each person’s needs, and ensure we are providing the right care at the right time. A partnership approach is important; often the way carers can have the greatest impact is not obvious from an initial assessment or single visit. However thorough we are with our own assessments, we won’t know exactly what a person needs until we’ve worked with them for a week or so. We started supporting one of our clients after she had suffered multiple strokes, and although she was able to manage a lot of her own care at home, the effects of her condition meant she struggled to leave the house. The isolation and loneliness she felt led her to self-medicate with alcohol. Our carers had

initially been making visits to support her in leaving the house, taking her shopping or to social groups, and had seen an improvement in her wellbeing. Because she was still reasonably capable at home, her social care assessment outcome was low and visits were reduced. Sadly, the loss of interaction meant her alcohol consumption quickly increased and she went back into hospital. In these cases, we see a person’s true needs over time, and this is where we need to work closely with our social care and nursing colleagues to develop and adapt a care package which supports people in staying well. I like to think that the insight we have through daily visits and conversations can help social workers to build a full picture, which they can’t always do whilst managing caseloads and competing priorities. There are daily headlines about health and social care in the UK, and even from my position outside of the system, I can feel the effects of many years of budget cuts. The pressure to make the books balance is extreme and if I’m honest I find the politics, finance discussions and red tape to be wearing at times. In a real situation, when there’s a person sat at home or in a hospital bed in need of care, time can be lost worrying over a few pounds difference in the cost of care, or waiting on forms, however I do understand the reasons for these challenges and the need to use the right processes. I spend much of my time at work speaking to care professionals from different backgrounds and organisations and there is one thing that tends to unite us all; our purpose. We are true carers and just want to be able to help people with the work we do. For all the tough days and stress, it’s the human interaction and cases where we can really

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make a difference that keep us going. The NHS Long Term Plan sets out how the healthcare system needs to change in order to meet the needs of a growing and ageing population, and social care is no different. For many years we’ve been closing the gaps between organisations and it’s vital for this work to continue so we can play a role in supporting people with care that’s individual to them. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and although in today’s overstretched and under-funded system it can be incredibly difficult to meet people’s expectations, finding individual solutions that deliver the best outcomes for each person should always be our shared priority. These challenges are much easier to overcome when we have good working relationships with our social work colleagues. Being able to pick up the phone when we need to and be confident in an agreed care plan for our clients makes such a difference. We were making daily visits to one client for 30 minutes at a time following his social care assessment. He needed support with personal care and was very overweight, with a regular need for cleaning and dressing developing pressure sores and sweat rashes. The local authority had installed a wet room for him but he was unable to use it alone. We were able to discuss his needs with social care colleagues and increase his visits to 45 minutes, allowing our teams to help him shower and get dressed every day. We immediately saw a huge difference in his wellbeing and quality of life. It’s clear that the future of care delivery is a partnership; for the people in need of care and the organisations working to provide it. We need each other now more than ever.

Council Spotlight

Council Spotlight Following the success of the Family Safeguarding pilot which took place in Hertfordshire in 2015; Peterborough City Council has worked hard to replicate the programme, with significant progress. We speak exclusively with Lou Williams, Service Director, Children & Safeguarding, Peterborough City & Cambridgeshire County Councils to find out more about the model and uncover the benefits of working under a singular management team.

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Council Spotlight

Over the last two years, you’ve taken a joint approach to strengthen services for children by having a singular management team for Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council. What have been the benefits of utilising a joint structure? Working across two councils has had its challenges but two years on, we’re seeing the positives. Senior managers have the benefit of looking at what best practice is taking place across two authorities and can learn from one another. We work hard to ensure that we get the best from both councils. In these times of relative austerity and in the right circumstances, we can start to share resources which will simultaneously reduce costs yet protect frontline services. We can share training programmes for our social workers and support staff as well as discovering how we can smooth our processes. Working jointly has enabled us to have the oversights to solve problems much earlier. This is having a positive impact on those working on the frontline. Looking to the future, I think that more authorities may start to work together in partnership, especially as budgets continue to tighten. In Peterborough, we are a small unitary authority which may lack resilience compared to similar areas. In contrast, Cambridgeshire has slightly more resources. While we remain two separate authorities, in terms of service delivery, we are undoubtedly stronger working together than we are separate.

How does the shared structure work on an operational level when you are working across two separate areas, which may have their own unique, and individual challenges? Each council is clearly defined, and they remain separate in terms of day-to-day operations. Our practitioners based in Peterborough will only work with children and adults in the Peterborough remit, and likewise for our Cambridgeshire social work teams. The only exception to this is in relation to the MASH and EDT, which are fully shared. We’re clear our services haven’t merged, and they are not subsidising each other. It’s just our leadership posts and support services which are shared. It’s important to us that each council is kept separate because they are both very diverse and offer different challenges and opportunities. For example, Cambridgeshire is a large county with relatively affluent areas in the South and throughout Cambridge itself – but there are some considerable concerns about county lines networks and some areas of relative deprivation too. In addition, if we

consider the Fenlands, we can see much more rural deprivation and diverse populations. Peterborough, meanwhile, is a large cathedral city; It has a very diverse community in the centre of town, with long-established Asian and Italian communities as well as more recently arrived communities from central and eastern Europe in particular. But it also includes its own rural areas and more affluent city centre areas. The differences between the two councils mean that social workers can come and work here and have a completely different experience to colleagues working in other parts of the service and with different communities. This makes both authorities exciting and varied places to work.

The joint structure has been designed to maximise your effectiveness. Can you provide any examples of how the joint structure has improved services for children and families Social Work News - 33

throughout Peterborough and Cambridgeshire? Our two Assistant Directors have operational responsibility for aligned areas of service delivery across the two authorities. One has responsibility for the MASH, assessment teams and the teams working with children in need, child protection and children in proceedings. The other has responsibility for children in care teams and care leavers alongside some specialist teams in each authority. This approach allows us to learn from one another. We can see what works well in one area, and benefit from each other’s experience. For example, with children in care and/or care leavers, we can see what works in supporting family placements and moving children through to adoption – including early permanency and FFA. Soon, we’ll be starting to develop joint training and development opportunities for our foster carers and improve participation for children in foster care. They’ll continue to exist separately but if we can meet and learn from other areas, it can only lead

Council Spotlight

to positive outcomes. Another idea which we’re considering is thinking about how we can use our young inspectors to inspect each other – it’s all about using creativity and combining our resources to allow each council to continue to improve. These initiatives are led by the third Assistant Director, who leads on quality assurance and practice development across both Councils.

Your family safeguarding structure was launched in Peterborough last year. Since then it has reported significant progress, can you tell us what is so innovative about it? This is the programme which was developed in Hertfordshire back in 2015. We launched it in Peterborough in 2017/18 and it’s been fantastic. The key to this programme is that it incorporates adult mental health and substance misuse workers within our children’s teams to support children on child protection plans. This allows them to offer a seamless service to entire families. We know that most children on a child protection plan are affected by at least one aspect of the toxic trio. This model allows us to make referrals and offer support to those who otherwise may not meet the threshold for support if they approached adult services individually. It enables families to benefit from a properly integrated single support plan. If we take domestic abuse as an example; most prevention programmes are only available to perpetrators of domestic abuse if they been convicted of a crime. With our family safeguarding model, we can offer programmes prior to this, enabling us to focus on more preventative work. As a result, our social workers can really focus on working with the child and seeing how the interventions are making a positive impact. Looking ahead to the future, Cambridgeshire has won funding from the Department for Education to implement this approach, and we will be launching there in early 2020. It’s an incredibly exciting time to work here and we’re looking forward to seeing the continued success of the programme.

Can you tell us more about how the recruitment of adult practitioners has positively impacted the work that you’re doing with families? Our substance misuse services have received positive results from this model. They work in the broader community, but the success rate within the Family Safeguarding service is some of the best that they have. This reflects the fact that most families don’t want to live in a continuous cycle of poor mental health, substance misuse or domestic abuse. We believe that if you can provide the tools to address these difficulties, they will use them to improve their own lives.

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Council Spotlight

We have many testimonials from families saying how much the support has changed their lives. We are also able to make quicker decisions when it becomes apparent that there may not be a positive outcome. As all social workers know, it’s in the child’s best interest to make changes before they suffer from significant trauma. Our multi-agency teams can share their assessments around risks and potential for change and make informed decisions quickly. What stands out to us about the success of the model is that the number of children in care in Peterborough have stayed relatively stable. Our care numbers are below the average of similar statistical neighbours and we put this stability directly down to the impact of the Family Safeguarding programme.

You’re about to roll the Family Safeguarding structure out across Cambridgeshire – what are the challenges of implementing an entirely new approach in a new area? Organisationally, the Family Safeguarding model is a big programme. It will involve recruiting for a lot of new staff and specifically encouraging adult practitioners to join the team. We will be providing training and there will be some cultural changes that need to be made but thanks to our experience in Peterborough it should be much easier to recruit for the right people to join us. When we initially set up the programme in Peterborough, we discovered that this model can make some partners anxious because they felt that we were taking higher levels of risk. It took time for them to trust the new approach and there will be some hand-holding until they feel confident that we’re working in the right direction. This trust will take time, but we have the experience from the pilot in Peterborough and case studies to show why this model is such an effective way of working.

What have you learnt from your success in Peterborough and how can you use this to continually improve services? Peterborough has been on a journey. I’ve been here since 2012 and last year it received a “good” rating from Ofsted which was a proud moment for the Council and most importantly for the staff who have worked so hard and so passionately to support vulnerable children and their families. We know that social work flourishes when there is a supportive environment, a clear focus on positive practice and outcomes for children, and manageable caseloads. We’re retaining fantastic staff because they genuinely enjoy working here. They know that they can really make a difference in the life of a child or family, which is often the reason why they entered social work in the first place. When everything comes together as it should, our children and families really will continue to benefit from what we do.

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