Monday, January 11, 2021
I confess that I love new beginnings - a new day, week, term or of course new year.
They are sources of hope, a chance to start afresh, renew good intentions and be purposeful.
New year, after the indulgence of the holiday season, is a time for resolutions, plans, and good organisation of life and work with a real sense of energy and anticipation; that is, at least, after the shock of getting up in the dark again.
Somehow this new year didn’t turn out quite as intended and I for one am still reeling from the deluge of changes to plans that have been the daily headlines of the last few weeks.
The plans we rushed to amend over last weekend and implemented on Monday, were swept away by Tuesday and the frenzy of lockdown preparation took over, fortunately with the benefit of having done it before.
Thank goodness for the learning of the last nine months which has meant we have risk assessment processes, PPE systems, virtual services and partnerships that have strengthened during 2020 and will see us through.
My plans this week to have reflective discussions with my key staff about the coming year, and even our Ofsted Annual Conversation, gave way to the urgency to prepare for lockdown, behind which the fear and anxiety people were feeling was tangible.
Strong leaders listen, plan, and organise their way through difficult times, however, doing that when the rules and plans change every day is challenging to say the least.
So, how do we find hope and a sense of purpose for this new year with Covid continuing to rampage through our lives?
Firstly, we should remind ourselves of the amazing achievements of last year which have given us such a strong platform from which to build services for the future.
Secondly, a continued development of our partnership working, locally and nationally, taking advantage of virtual meetings to connect more regularly to influence the things that matter most. T
hirdly, pressing pause long enough to be clear about our core priorities for the year ahead which are accentuated by our experience of Covid.
ADCS President Jenny Coles highlighted some of these in her end of year blog and the increase in inequalities, racism, and poverty are priority threads we have to tackle within all our work on early help systems, education for all, safeguarding children effectively, nurturing our children in care, the care review, the SEND review…the list goes on.
The role of ADCS continues to be crucial in influencing change for the good of children, young people and their families and the increased involvement, wisdom and skill of our members last year has provided us with even greater opportunities for the year ahead.
We will continue to learn from each other, promote the voice and needs of the children and young people of this country, and further develop our links with experts by experience, multi-agency partners, and government departments to make this a country that works for all children, despite Covid.
I for one will be taking the opportunity of lockdown this weekend to sit down with a drink (non-alcoholic as it is dry January), press pause and list my thoughts on the three areas above. If anyone joins me and wants to share their thoughts, then you know where I am! Here’s to a hope filled and purposeful year!
Charlotte Ramsden is ADCS vice president and strategic director for people at Salford City Council