A message of thanks
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
When I agreed to write a blog for ADCS last year, no one told me that my slot would fall right in the middle of a global pandemic where home-working has become the norm and conference calls the default for us all.
What has struck me in the midst of this crisis is the strength of our sector. Suddenly, directors of children’s services and our colleagues in adult services are the ‘go to’ people for system leadership and direction. So, my message is to celebrate our resilience and say a huge thank you to everyone who is continuing to provide effective leadership during our collective endeavour to protect the most vulnerable and support our staff during the most challenging of times.
Colleagues, we are remarkable and we lead remarkable people. Never has our ability to stand together as a sector been more powerful and compelling to those in power. During these unprecedented times, our understanding of risk management and major incident coordination has been invaluable as we seamlessly shift into arms length coordination, communicating with partners and children and families about what we are doing and how services will adapt to ensure ongoing delivery and support to the most vulnerable. We bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, so it has been encouraging to see ADCS engage with government to push the needs of vulnerable children and families high up its agenda.
I have been humbled by the response of my own staff in Bolton, a number choosing to return to work early from maternity leave to support colleagues and many in the care sector moving away from families, or in one case a manager sending her daughter to live with her dad so she could deliver frontline care and leadership where it was needed most.
You will all have your own stories of inspirational people doing vital work and as we go forward it is important we remember these individuals who have shown their incredible worth so that we can continue to provide our support to those who rely on it most. Social work and social care is a profession to be proud of (it has ever been thus) and like nursing it should not require a global pandemic for these staff and services to be celebrated. This is also true of youth services, early years, and all of our incredible support services - local authority and children’s services staff are incredible, fact!
The pandemic is highlighting many of the issues that we have been shouting about for a long time: recruiting and retaining enough social workers, a shortage of placement options for children in our care, the challenges faced by early years settings and rising child poverty. When all of our focus turns to recovery planning, I only hope that it comes with the appropriate resourcing and an acceptance that leadership sits with local authority leaders and statutory officers who will ensure that we all come out the other side, stronger, wiser and more resilient and effective than ever.
Colleagues stay safe and stay well. Be kind to yourselves as well as your teams!
Bernie Brown is director of people at Bolton Council. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website