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November 2018

Promoting a Partnership Approach


"Welcome to our second partnership newsletter - please do encourage colleagues to subscribe to the newsletter and give us feedback about what you would like us to include in future editions.

Signs of Safety is becoming embedded in practice across the partnership in Norfolk and those outside of Norfolk are excited by our partnership approach - we should be proud of what we are achieving and the commitment we have to the children, young people and families that we work with".

Cindee Crehan - Chair of the Norfolk SofS P'ship Steering Group

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October Leadership Workshop

On Friday 12 October 2018, it was Norfolk’s turn to provide a presentation of our SofS journey at the EIP 2 Leaders workshop in London. Sara Tough, Phil Watson, Andrea Brown, Cindee Crehan and Teresa Frost delivered the presentation.


Sara started by providing an overview of Norfolk, highlighting where SofS has been embedded especially well in the Independent Reviewing Service, Residential Homes and Early Help. Teresa provided an overview of the Early Help implementation journey and the impact we are seeing working with families using the ethos. Cindee spoke about how the approach is used across the partnership and the importance of a shared language for all families we work with, something that is unique to Norfolk. Andrea spoke about the importance of safety networks and how we were taking our learning forward with the Family Network training, and Phil finished with an overview of new Children’s Advice and Duty Service front door conversation model approach and how it aligns to SofS.

Our presentation was received well with much curiosity from the other local authorities. We received good feedback on how focused and committed we are in developing our SofS approach further. Presenting and sharing Norfolk’s sparkling moments with SofS also helped us reflect on our journey and how far we have come, giving us renewed focus on shared leadership to embed SofS practice more consistently across all teams and services.

Click here to read the EIP2 Journals to find out more about the London Leadership Workshops.


Meaningful Measures - the Parents Survey

Following on from the staff survey undertaken in January 2018 as part of the England Innovations Project, a parents’ survey is now also taking place. Children’s Services practitioners have been asked to take details of the survey, including a copy of the questions they will be asked, to all families visited during a set two week period. The aim of the survey, which will be carried out by NCC Customer Services, is to find out at a general level about the quality of the service they are receiving. No information on any individual worker or family will be recorded and any information given will be strictly confidential. The overall results for Norfolk will be provided by MTM and also collated with the results from the other nine local authorities involved in the project. Watch this space for further information.


Resources at your fingertips

The new SofS Knowledge Bank was launched in September, with the new website address and log in details being emailed out to 2000+ NCC staff and partners.

This incredible resource provides a mass of information on tools and techniques, whole case examples, articles, interviews and research. Along with the presentations from previous International Gatherings, livestreaming of the 12th SofS International Gathering taking place in Dublin can also be found here, between the 6 & 8 November 2018.  

Int'l Gathering

Drop in sessions have been arranged in three locations around the county, if you’d like to come along to watch some of the presentations:

Tues 6 Nov 2018: Great Yarmouth.

Weds 7 Nov 2018: Norwich.

Thurs 8 Nov 2018: Dereham.

Click here for further details on the livestreaming.

For more information on the Knowledge Bank, please email signsofsafety@norfolk.gov.uk.

Safety planning that lasts


At the Norwich Int’l Gathering back in 2016, Tess Terzza, a then Senior Social Worker in a Family Intervention Team, introduced us to a family she work with - Mum, Dad & 5 kids, known to Children’s Services since 2008. Living in a small 2 bedroom house, the family were struggling to manage the children’s behaviour, with Dad previously arrested for unlawful physical chastisement of the eldest child. The family was in chaos & relationships with professionals were poor. After months of building trust, with added help of a support worker, the family starting feeling more positive about the upcoming review. Then came another disclosure – dad was arrested again and went to live with his parents. The family was distraught.

Tess, in the middle of her SofS Practice Leads training when this happened, contacted Mum suggesting they try this new thing – mapping!

Understandably nervous about her first mapping, Tess spent some time preparing questions beforehand. The family found it difficult at times but with Tess’s persistence, the family found a long list of existing strengths and the parents understood the professionals’ worries. The scaling questions helped them to see a way forward and helped the professionals understand the parents thinking.

The safety planning that followed involved all the family, making decisions and choices about house rules and what would happen when Dad needed time out. It also saw the creation of ‘Spider Bessy’ – a recently refurbished shed in the garden which became the children’s space to take time out. The parents, children and professionals were all confident it was going to work and Dad returned home.

Following up with her recently, Tess explained that she had continued to work with the family for a little while after and although there had been another referral at a later stage, it showed evidence the family were continuing to use the safety plan. The support worker involved at the time, keeps in touch with the family and periodically provides updates. Everything continues to go well and they have very positive views about the professional intervention, which had not been the case when Tess first joined them. Tess comments “I can honestly say that the major turning point was the SofS mapping session and the continued use of SofS tools. Things weren't smooth straight away, it took time. The eldest child now goes to boarding school through boarding pathways; I would have struggled to have this approved without the evidence of the mapping session and safety plan”.

Embedding the SofS approach

Norfolk’s Independent Statutory Services, who challenge and support improving outcomes for children and young people, play an integral role in embedding the SofS approach in the way we work. Gaynor Bane, who joined Norfolk in December 2017 as an Independent Reviewing Manager, tells us how implementation of this approach is shaping the Child Protection Conferencing Service.

“Lots of work is taking place in standardising and streamlining the Service, with changes made to bring Conferencing more in line with the Signs of Safety model, including a new agenda and new Conference headings. Work continues to finalise these, however, it is anticipated that these will go live in January 2019.

Some of the things we as a Service are involved in:-

  • The CP Chairs are promoting Appreciative Enquiry in all that they do.
  • Effective Practice Audit Meetings (EPAM) have started to take place – a forum by which cases that may be stuck are reviewed independently to try and consider in partnership with Key Parties the next steps – all in an attempt to avoid delay for Children and Young People.
  • There is some work being completed by a CP Chair regards the involvement and participation of Fathers – watch this space!
  • Contextual Safeguarding is very high on the agenda for CP Chairs and there will be more to follow on how as a Service we are keen to develop alternatives to safeguarding our very vulnerable teenagers.

In addition to the above and the Core duties, Child Protection Chairs are also involved in holding regular County wide CP Workshops to provide support, mentoring and promote consistency. These sessions are facilitated by Child Protection Chairs to offer an informal Q&A session about all matters CP.”

Feel free to email Gaynor if you’d like more information on the workshops or any other aspect of this Service.

5 things
  • Attend or create a local SofS practice/ coaching session to hone your appreciative inquiry skills
  • Investigate the resources available on the new & improved Knowledge Bank
  • Attend or organise a group supervision session
  • Print the ‘Norfolk SofS Terms & Tools’ poster from the NSCB website and consider how you might use these more in your practice
  • Take the safety and resilience challenge for the children you work with:
    • % and/or how many children do you work well with both their parents?
    • % and/or how many children do you work well with their extended family and friends/carers network?
    • Plan to improve these numbers/percentages by reaching out and making connections
    • Use supervision to challenge why you may have decided not to involve a parent or network member. (All parents with PR should be notified about professional intervention in their children’s lives, as a minimum requirement)

Wendy Hill

Practice Leads Coaching sessions

The second set of Practice Leads coaching sessions, run by our trainer/consultant Wendy Hill (pictured left), have so far taken place in Great Yarmouth, Norwich and King’s Lynn, with further sessions planned for November in Cromer, Dereham & Long Stratton. The focus on this set of sessions are Group Supervision and Appreciative Inquiry and are open to all Norfolk SofS practitioners. Those who have taken part report how valuable these have been in deepening their understanding and practice.

Mandy Marriott-Sims, Early Help Manager, Norwich & South:

Having Wendy’s in depth knowledge of Signs of Safety has been incredibly helpful.

Working in a small group to practice together the use of EARS in appreciative enquiry, everyone was given the opportunity of asking the questions, presenting their information and observing.  It reinforced how much more in depth the information obtained is when you are professionally curious.

The second part of the session involved workers presenting their case. Wendy asked a series of questions using the skills of appreciative enquiry.  Others in the session then pulled together worry statements for the workers to take away with them.  The workers reflected on how useful it was to have other view points and both felt they were clearer on how to progress the case.   

It was really good having a specific area to focus on and to use group supervision to deepen our learning. Also helpful having the resources to consolidate the learning from the Knowledge Bank.”

Bev Gray, Practice Consult, Great Yarmouth:

“Having the time to work in small groups to split up the session into bite size pieces was useful and enabled myself and others to work on the EARS model, asking questions in a particular way, observing and then providing feedback. Each member in the group gained confidence in their approach and was able to share what they though went well and not so well in each other’s questioning.

The group activity in putting together danger statements, greatly supported the two workers who had presented the case. It was interesting to see how different language is used by other professionals and how different risks and strengths were identified within the information provided by the family.

Overall, the ‘Peer Supervision’ session, enabled a deeper understanding which will support the embedding of SOS within a supervision session as practitioners are able to work collectively at aiming for a common goal, which provided different perspectives about a particular case.”

If you want to learn how to further improve your practice and haven’t yet attended one of these sessions, then email the Signs of Safety mailbox for further information.  With only two more sets of sessions planned for the coming year, there’s no time to lose.

If you have any questions, queries or suggestions on what you'd like included in future newsletter, please contact signsofsafety@norfolk.gov.uk 

Click here to find out more about the England Innovations Project.