Doing the impossible
Friday, May 28, 2021
I want to start this blog with a quote from Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - I think it’s what all of us working in children’s services do.
I used this quote to open our Foster Carers’ conference last week, the first we’ve held virtually. The event was a great success and everyone effortlessly navigated Zoom, however, it was a shame not to have some of the ‘coffee break’ catch-ups with individual foster carers.
During the event we reflected on the life of one of our longstanding carers who died of cancer during Covid and the amazing impact he and his wife have had on many children. It had been humbling for me, some months ago, to talk to them both during a lockdown permitted walk and listen to his wife assuring me that she’d be back fostering on her own.
At the conference we heard from our Mockingbird hub carers (we’ve launched two of the three during lockdown) who brought to life the many positive experiences of our children during lockdown – nurturing calm and stability that has eased anxieties, deepened relationships and created fun times. One of our kinship carers talked eloquently about how she has used the PACE principles in helping her teenage grandson to deal with bullying at school and I realised she would probably never have done that in a room full of 80 people – the positive use of technology!
I also want to reflect on the long lasting impact of Covid, on top of the challenges that predated Covid. Locally, we’re seeing growing numbers of children and young people who are anxious about their future and afraid to reconnect outside of their homes.
Our school colleagues continue to go the extra mile because they don’t want any child to get left behind, and out of the pandemic has come a whole load of creativity with passions reignited – we can’t let this generation down. It’s exciting to talk with colleagues and our lead member about the skills agenda, because in our collective role as corporate parents we are using some of the new opportunities to improve the employment and support offer to our care leavers. Although they had a lot of support from staff, some of them really struggled with the isolation of lockdown, so it’s good to hear that they’re now able to talk about their hopes for the future again.
I can’t end this blog without giving a shout out for my DCS colleagues in the South West. They have proved themselves to be a resilient and supportive bunch. So, as we move into the sunshine and welcome those of you who are heading down here for a staycation (most of you?) I’d like to thank them for their camaraderie and mutual support. We traded our annual overnight conference, peer challenge day and regular face to face meetings for a completely virtual world. But do you know what? We‘ve had nearly 100 per cent attendance at most meetings and the peer challenges went ahead with lots of positive feedback. We even had a few evening get togethers and have discovered things about each other that have wowed and amused us!
- Sheila Smith is director of people and communities, North Somerset Council. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website