You may be aware that Newham has been making a number of improvements, recently recognised by Ofsted. Our journey has brought us to where we now have a permanent senior leadership team, an established service structure, an up-to-date practice framework and a training programme to ensure that staff have the knowledge and skills to perform their role
The East of London has long been an area where those new to the UK make their first home, and over the years many new Londoners settled in Newham to build or rebuild their lives.
Currently, Newham is the most diverse area in the UK with residents of an Asian, Black or Mixed heritage making up over 70% of our population. Although culturally rich, the population does have a high poverty rate of 37% and the life expectancy is one of the lowest in London. In short, this community needs good, dedicated social workers who are keen to make a difference. By working for Newham you are both part of, and serving, our community.
We have identified the Outcomes we want for children in Newham.
- Grow up happy, healthy and safe
- Flourish in our schools
- Benefit from employment, skills and training opportunities
- Play an active role in the community
These Outcomes require dedication and commitment. We call them our three Obsessions:
- Improve the Care experience
- Increase support to families
- Invest in the workforce, improving quality and stability
The investment in the workforce is paramount. The council and department believe our staff are part of our community and by investing in their wellbeing and development we are investing in the community. Good social workers need the right environment to develop and grow into great social workers, and we know that our progress to becoming an Outstanding authority and a Centre for Excellence by 2023 is only achievable with staff who feel recognised, heard and believe they are taken seriously by their employers. This requires a culture of respect, understanding, working together and learning. Such a culture needs to be set from the top, and our senior leadership team are committed to building this.
The Key Themes in our development are
- Leadership, vision and culture
- Model of practice
- The fundamentals
- Corporate parenting
- Learning and Transparency
For an in-depth understanding of what this looks like for the practitioner, please go to our Training page.
The Newham Together Practice Framework is based on restorative values – supporting local families to make positive changes to their lives, drawing strength from their relationships and networks. The Framework provides a context for workers to guide these changes, however it also is a continually developing and changing thing in itself – it is a learning system, using feedback, both positive and negative, from service users and staff to constantly improve our services. Transparency and accountability are an important aspect of the Framework, with the focus being on learning.
We always approach our work with positive intent – we aim to add value and support families. We recognise the significance of difference and the role difference and language plays in structuring the meaning and experience of the world. We use the Social GRACES to support recognition of difference into our work. These differences contribute to power dynamics that can cause inequality and disadvantage.
Our approach is relational, using the ‘self’ and relationships to build trust and support change. Clear, empathic communication is key to achieving this.
We draw on systemic theory to inform our practice and help make sense of complex situations. We do not view people as ‘the problem’: their circumstances are the product of many interacting factors and focusing on relationships helps us better understand their needs, strengths and resources. Systemic ideas help us develop tools for managing risk, providing options other than ‘escalation’.
There are six core principles underlying our Practice Framework.
Children and young people are at the centre of all we do
The lived experience of children and young people is paramount. We listen to them and seek to build a relationship of trust. Feedback and involvement is central to what we do.
We use a systemic approach to understand complex issues;
Our aim is to understand relationships in the context of family life. We recognise that language and difference shape meaning and experiences.
We provide support by building on strengths;
We engage people with positive intent. We have an appreciation of the strengths of those we work with and their ability to find solutions to complex issues. The goals and plans are coproduced.
We respond to risk with confidence;
We accept it is not possible to eliminate all risk; our approach is to work within a context of safe uncertainty. We use our relationships to mitigate risk.
We are purposeful, planned and focussed;
We use analysis and reflection to formulate our support for families. We practice with a clear view of the outcomes we seek.
We are part of the community of Newham;
We celebrate the diversity in our community, recognising and responding to difference. We build lasting relationships and value feedback.