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Regional Update – August 2023

From our Safe Centre Board Chair:

Over recent months you will have read about some of the changes that are happening across the DCS Network. One of those involves us here in Birmingham, where Andy Couldrick is retiring from the Trust CEO role. For the last year Andy has been chairing the Safe Centre Board, which I also sit on, so it made sense that as we both already work closely together, that I step up and ensure a smooth handover.

The concept of a Safe Centre, incorporating a secure children’s home, but offering far wider reaching services to our most vulnerable children, dates back to 2018, when a number of our very wise DCS colleagues realised that something needed to change. Five years later, and many of those “big thinkers” have moved on or retired. Nevertheless, the baton has been passed and as such, I am honoured to be asked by Network to move this project forward. Of course, I would like to offer a huge thank you, to those who went before, for all of the hard work to date.

During August Ofsted tend not to be so active, although colleagues in Solihull have just welcomed them for a monitoring visit. So, I thought it was maybe a good time to reflect on the regions recent ILACS judgements. We currently have nine in our region, judged Good or better. This is two more than the same time last year and five more than the same time two years ago. Of course, we still have colleagues that require our support, but as Emma Bennett recently wrote in an ADCS blog, we absolutely have the right structures in place to do this. Regional working, in its own right, is not the only ingredient to a positive improvement journey. As DCS in Birmingham, I and my colleagues in the trust, know that there are many other factors that come into play, but when considering marginal gains, working together across the West Midlands, remains an important part of our individual journeys.

So that leaves me to wish you the best for the rest of the summer, remember, life moves pretty fast, so do stop and take a look around, or risk missing it and honestly, blink and you may miss the sunshine! And as always, thank you for your continued hard work.

Best wishes

Sue Harrison

Network Co-vice Chair:

Now that Jo Britton has stepped up from her Co-vice Chair role, to become Chair, we have been keen to identify her replacement. We are therefore pleased to confirm that Neelam Bhardwaja, DCS in Staffordshire is our new Co-vice Chair, along side Nigel Minns, with immediate effect.

DCS Movements:

Following Sally Rowe’s retirement, Walsall Council have announced that Colleen Male will be stepping up to Interim DCS from 2nd September.

Contextual safeguarding resource 

Enfield Council has released a free contextual safeguarding resource called Save Me, which includes a short film and professional handbook which can be used across all organisations that work with children. 

The film and handbook can be used to aid discussions, enhance learning and educate children, parents, communities, businesses and professionals around key themes such as grooming, child criminal exploitation, sexual abuse, substance misuse and intimidation control.

More details can be found here.

Key Events:

LeadHERship in Colour Programme Celebration Event 22nd September

DCS colleagues and line managers of programme participants, you will have received an invite earlier this year for your opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the women from a global ethnic majority aspiring to head of service within the West Midlands. Participants will be able to network with you, some of our most senior leaders, demonstrating the value you place not only on the achievements of colleagues within the West Midlands but also in leading the culture and drive for more diverse and inclusive leadership within our Region.

CPD Programmes

Breaking Through Programme – Reserve list

Places on this programme have been reserved quickly and we are expecting that all places will have been purchased by close of play 18th August. We are however, holding a reserve list for this cohort. You can contact Ana Davies to register interest for reserve spots on this cohort or to identify interest in a future programme.

Workforce Conferences

Planning will shortly be underway for the Social Work Big Thinking Event on 17th October. This is an opportunity each year for leaders in children’s social care to think differently about how we can work together in this challenging space. Let’s think about opportunities and the art of the possible.

Senior leaders from the WM ADCS workstreams, WMTP , WME and the DfE received a calendar invite earlier this year and we welcome everyone to spend time with us to think differently and act together. A programme for the day will be shared nearer the time and if you haven’t got the invite- please contact Ana Davies.

WME workforce Hot Conference which covers all areas workforce. We Belong

An opportunity to reframe the recruitment and retention challenges that unite us all in the public sector by finding new opportunities to innovate and cultivate a culture of belonging, positioning the sector as an inclusive employer of choice.

We have some great speakers and by booking on the conference will also give you access to webinars pre and post conference. Read more here on the programme outline, our speakers and how to book.

Free training:

Amber project – Training through VRP (12th September).

What is The Amber Project? The Amber Project is a multi-agency partnership that seeks to enhance the response to child abuse linked to faith and belief at a Local Authority level. Delivery partners include specialists in abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession accusations (ALWSPA) from the Metropolitan Police Service, National Working Group ALWSPA and Barnardo’s National FGM Centre.

A two-hour free training webinar has been developed that clearly explains:

(a) What abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession accusations is,

(b) The factors and indicators professionals need to look out for and

(c) What safeguarding actions need to be taken by those identifying cases

More details can be found here.

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