UK Implementation of the Signs of Safety

York Racecourse 4Following an event in Solihull (UK) earlier this year for Heads of Service, Senior Managers of Children’s Services and partner agencies who are, or were considering, implementing the Signs of Safety, three separate Leaders’ Days were held last month.

The three days, in Swindon, Milton Keynes and York, were presented by Andrew Turnell, Terry Murphy (Director General for The Department for Child Protection in Western Australia) and Signs of Safety consultants and trainers Viv Hogg, Katrina Etherington, Tracey Hill and Marjorie James. The Leaders’ Days were attended by representatives from Swansea, Swindon, Somerset, Staffordshire, North Somerset, Essex, Milton Keynes, West Sussex, Southwark, Brent, Wandsworth, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, Newcastle & East Riding and preceded a five-day Signs of Safety Residency in Alnwick, at which child protection workers and managers from these boroughs, and others, participated in.

The Munro Review proclaimed loud and clear that child protection practice in England has become overwhelmed by procedures and compliance. Children’s Services need to place the child back in the middle of the picture and reclaim social work practice as the driving force that generates good outcomes for vulnerable children and their families. Building on The Leaders’ Days were used as a catalyst for initial implementation planning for the UK Heads of Service, Directors and Managers looking to start their Signs of Safety implementation journey in their respective Local Authorities, and begin thinking through how their respective boroughs could shift their focus and explore a way forward. Additional enthusiasm was generated by those participating in the residency, many of whom are now applying the Signs of Safety approach back in their implementing local authorities.

At each of the leaders’ days, chaired by Viv Hogg:

  • Andrew Turnell presented the international experience of the need for clear strong organisational implementation strategy and process to be wrapped around the use of the Signs of Safety for the approach to make any meaningful difference in practice.
  • Terry Murphy presented an engaging look at the WA statewide experience of implementing Signs of Safety as a child protection practice framework.
  • The team was able to share their individual and collective knowledge and experience in using the approach in the UK and internationally, helping to create a vision of what implementing the Signs of Safety might look like in their respective contexts.
  • Each local authority leadership team presented their own organisational plan for implementing the Signs of Safety in their context.

Each day concluded with Terry leading a session looking at the lessons derived by each leadership team focusing on the next steps required to advance each individual authority implementation and the mechanisms for creating a community of learning across all implementing boroughs.

Resolutions Consultancy, together with Viv Hogg Consultancy, will continue to working with each of these UK Local Authorities to guide and support them in their ongoing learning journeys with implementing the Signs of Safety. Other local authorities are already asking to join the group of Signs of Safety implementing authorities.