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Regional Update – September 2023


Hello, I’m Darryl and I’m the DCS for Herefordshire Council. Where the past couple of Regional Updates have led with changes among the DCS group, I thought I’d let you know that I’m soon to pass my second anniversary in the post, which is testimony to the old adage that time flies when you’re having fun! Whilst the role is undoubtedly challenging it’s also varied, for example, when I became a DCS I never once imagined that one day I’d be briefing councillors on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete!


I started my career in residential work back in 1990 and what got me up in the mornings then was a growing awareness of social injustice and a strong desire to make a difference for the children that I was working with. Whilst the day job has changed and I have far less direct contact with young people, believing that as a DCS I can influence and create systems and make a difference for many more children and young people is still what gets me up in the morning.


As I write this, I’m working from home having tested positive for Covid. It’s my first time and for the first few days it’s been pretty rough and is a reminder that it’s still out there if a reminder was needed. The Government has just commenced the roll-out of autumn Covid boosters for some, including for frontline health and social care workers and I urge you to check local arrangements and to consider having the booster, and the flu jab if you are able to.


At the time this edition of Regional Update is published we will be halfway through a very busy day for the region. In the morning we will have hosted our LeadHERship Graduation Event, celebrating the achievements of our first LeadHERship cohort aimed at supporting women of colour to break down barriers and enter leadership roles. We are excited to see how this groups careers progress over the coming months and years.

In the afternoon is our now annual Team Excellence Awards where each of our local authority areas presents their best examples of practice. We would encourage you to take time to read the event brochure and see some of the excellent work that is happening around our great region.


It’s really important to us as a group of DCS’s that we recognise and celebrate the wealth of good and innovative practice that exists across our region and it’s with a real sense of pride and excitement that we look forward to these events.


I’ll sign off by thanking you for what you do, day after day and often in challenging circumstances. It is appreciated, and as a sector we do make a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our communities. It doesn’t get reported in the press that often, but don’t let’s forget it!


Best wishes

Darryl Freeman



Network movements:

Emma Taylor has become the new Network Sponsor for QPPG (Quality of Performance and Practice Group), taking over from Emma Bennett.


As many of you may be aware Pat Bullen, who has been pivotal in leading or Regional SEND Programme for several years, is moving to pastures new. We are pleased to confirm that her replacement is home grown! Jane Carter, currently in Warwickshire, will be taking on this lead, later in the autumn.


Jennifer Rogers will soon be stepping down as Co-chair for the PSW network and likewise Sheila Bates will be saying a farewell to the participation leads network. On that note, we would like to thank you both for your time and commitment and now very much welcome volunteers from other LA’s to take on the baton of leading excellent practice within these two networks. Also as part of our Workforce and Leadership Network reshuffle, we are looking forward to hearing from social care AD’s who would like to co-chair with John Coleman. Contact Ana Davies for more info.





DCS Movements:

Following Emma Bennett’s move to Walsall Council, as CEO, Alison Hinds has been announced as the new DCS.


Birmingham Children’s Trust have announced that James Thomas will become their new CEO when Andy Couldrick retires in December. James is joining the region from his current DCS role in London, and we are looking forward to welcoming him.


Safe Centre:

As the West Midlands Safe Centre project progresses, the project would like to increase representation on its Practice and Operating Model Workstream and is looking for nominations. It would be especially helpful to have the input from Commissioners, the Virtual School, an Educational Psychologist and colleagues with relevant experience to secure care and education. The Practice and Operating Model workstream would like more representation from the following Local Authorities, in particular: Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Solihull, Stoke on Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire.


The Practice and Operating Model Workstream meets monthly - meetings alternate between online meetings once every two months and in person design workshops, in Birmingham.


For more information click here.

If you are able to make a nomination, please contact Maggie McGrath, Project Director.


National SEND Leadership Programme:

The Staff College have recently launched their new programme and are inviting those interested to a taster session on 27th September.


You can apply here.


Congratulations to our LeadHERship in Colour graduates of 2023!



Key Events:

CPD Programmes

Breaking Through Programme – Reserve list

All places on this programme have been reserved. 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. If we have enough additional reserves, we may be able to expand the October cohort.

Workforce Conferences

Planning is 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 as the venue is now at capacity.


Regional Safeguarding Network Conference

On the 8th November we will be welcoming CP Chairs, IROs and Safeguarding Leads for our first RSN Conference. The Eventbrite has been shared with RSN leads who will select 3 colleagues to attend from their respective LAs.


Putting participation on the Map

We are well on our way to co-producing a shared learning and development structure across the West Midlands to make participation Everyone’s business. Want to know more, contact your lead for participation or 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 https://wmemployers.org.uk/event/hot-conference-we-belong-2023/ on the programme outline, our speakers and how to book.

Free training:

WMTP - Birmingham City University Social Work Education, Policy and Practice (SWEPP) Research Cluster Webinar Series: Social Work on the Edge

The Social Work Education, Policy and Practice (SWEPP) Research Cluster at Birmingham City University is delighted to invite all colleagues to its first lunchtime webinar series, ‘Social work on the Edge’. Please see the attached poster for more details and for the MS Teams links to join; registration is not required, and all are welcome. Please contact SWEPP Co-Leads Dr Colin Watt or Dr Peter Simcock if you need any further information, please click here.

West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership:

County Lines and Exploitation Awareness Training Schedule

2nd - 6th October 2023


Please click here for details.


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