My first Blog, may be my last, as I near the end of my Tenure. I would like to start by thanking my Board member colleagues, our staff and the active members for their support and energetic engagement with the Association during an immensely challenging year. I will not repeat the list of achievements which can be found in our Annual Report Brochure (see under ABOUT US) which contains the detail of our activities. All this will be debated in the Members’ Meeting at our November conference. I will say that I believe the Association has risen to the challenge, and continues to play an increasingly influential national role.
This pre-conference newsletter is out now (see NEWSLETTERS) packed with new developments which demand our attention. All the advice is that effective LSCBs have a tight focus and clear priorities, but the bombardment of new issues cannot be ignored; it stretches our awareness and capacity! The newsletter also itemises the very considerable activity by Association representatives related to the legislative passage of the Children and Social Work Bill.
The latest safeguarding challenge for LSCBs and local partners is the arrival of young people from Calais, either to live with identified family contacts (known as Dublin children after the EU agreement) or as unaccompanied asylum seekers (known as Dubbs children after the legislative amendment led by Lord Alf Dubbs). The whole process was not well managed by the Home Office and there are very significant safeguarding risks for the young people involved. Board Chairs need to ensure that appropriate safeguarding arrangements are in place and that young people are safe and protected.
The Board agreed a few months ago to relaunch our website and I am pleased to see it arrive. We hope the new website will be easier to use and more informative than the old. It also integrates our membership and financial systems alongside our news and information functions. We hope you will find it informative, attractive and easier to use.
The Member’s Meeting is in Sheffield on Tuesday 8th November at 08.30. It is open to all members, regardless of whether you are attending the Conference. (You have to pay the fee to attend the rest of the conference.) This will provide an opportunity to hear about and review our strategy related to the Bill, discuss the future of the Association in the light of the changing status of safeguarding arrangements and consider any constitutional changes. A paper will be coming out soon as a basis for discussion. All members are urged to attend or send their comments to me in advance.
I do not wish to anticipate my farewell conference speech but am pleased to say here that I have valued the opportunity to lead our Association through these challenging times. I have been impressed and encouraged by the commitment and energy of Board members and of our staff. I am grateful for the courtesy of our stakeholder colleagues and our open dialogue with officials in government departments. I really appreciate the trust placed in me and the Board by members and for their continued financial and professional support and for the financial support of well over half the local safeguarding partnerships, without whom we could not operate to the same level. There are some really significant activities required of the Association over the coming two or three years of transition into whatever is to come next. I hope that you will offer the same support to my successor and the Association. I send you all my best wishes for the challenges to come and I will follow developments with interest.