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The London Borough of Redbridge has just received a ‘good’ Ofsted inspection rating for its Child Protection Services, with inspectors praising the council’s “passion, ambition and commitment” to improving the lives of children and their families with an “exceptionally strong” ‘front door’ service. 

We catch up with Cathy Worboyes, Head of Child Protection and Early Intervention Services, in the latest issue of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine to find out what it is like working for a children’s services department that is well known for its ‘strong learning culture’. 

What are the key priorities for the Borough’s children’s services? 

We have worked hard to create a robust ‘front door’ where clear analytical reasoning underpins every decision by our frontline staff. The right information is recorded at the right time to secure the best possible outcomes for the children and young people we support. As by far the majority of councils will recognise, our main priority is to maintain our existing good standards of service delivery during a period of austerity.

Tell us about your approach to early intervention?

Early intervention plays a vital role in preventing situations from escalating into more serious safeguarding concerns. Our multi-agency Early Intervention Panel is very effective at ensuring the right help is received at the right time by sharing information and agreeing packages of support. This includes a wide range of early intervention and assessment services.

We’ve had a great deal of success with the ‘Families Together’ programme, working with those in profound need across a full range of interventions. This gives parents practical strategies to help them build stronger, healthier relationships with their children and prevents problems from escalating. I was particularly pleased this was picked up by Ofsted, which details one parent we have supported as having said they are “not easily pleased”, but they would give their support worker “five stars for service”. 

How important is multi-agency working?

Good partnership work means that child protection enquiries are undertaken swiftly and effectively. 

Our local Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Panel, led by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, is great example of our approach. Multi-agency analysis identifies themes, types of abuse, hotspots in the local area, and prevalence whilst regular meetings between partner agencies ensure this information is communicated back to frontline staff. CSE training is also available to all professionals in Redbridge, with specialist multi-agency training provided for those working with children and young people at risk of CSE.

We also run our own in-house multi-agency training to assist frontline staff in recognising the signs of neglect, its impact on children and strategies for effective intervention. 

What makes the council’s learning culture strong? 

Supporting all members of our team is crucial to maintaining a good standard of service to those we support. For instance, newly qualified permanent staff are given the head space to make that transition into frontline social work with a reduced case load and three extra days training. This includes a comprehensive practice learning programme enabling them to continuously improve. 

We have created a learning culture where training, live supervision, reflective discussion and mentoring feature heavily. This has enabled our practitioners to progress from social work practitioners to managers, a number of who have been with us for several years now. 

It’s important to never stop learning, which is why I have just completed my Masters in Strategic Leadership and Management. 

What would you say to somebody interested in joining your team?

Social work is tough, and I couldn’t say otherwise, but with the right support it can be an incredibly rewarding profession. Here at Redbridge, nobody feels that they are on their own. I wouldn’t expect any member of my team to work in a way I wouldn’t want to myself and that’s an ethos shared by our frontline managers. It’s not unusual for a social worker to ask me directly for advice on a particular case and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

To find out more about what you can expect if you join the team and the benefits of living and working in the area, turn to page 10 in the Jan-Mar issue of Sanctuary Social Work News (SSWN)

Apply today

For vacancies, please visit or call Sanctuary’s permanent recruitment team on 0333 7000 026. 

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