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Interview Article April 26th, 2022
Delivery • Health • Justice • Legitimacy

Stories of change in children's social care: George Parnavelas, Evolve Practitioner at Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

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.@CPI_foundation, @FrontlineSW and a team of social workers have been supporting local authorities around the UK to make small changes in the sector. Read their stories.

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"We were asked ‘how much of your time is spent face-to-face with a young person?’ and no one was able to say more than 50%. This isn’t great when the sole purpose of our work is engagement with young people." @wandbc

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.@CPI_foundation @FrontlineSW & a team of social workers are working with @TowerHamletsNow @wandbc @WarringtonBC to understand how system change in #childrenssocialcare can happen in their local context

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What do you think about the process of making small changes?

I think it's a really interesting concept. It’s not one that I had considered before, but it has universal appeal because not only are we looking to make small changes in our practice, but I’m also trying to get my cohort of young people to think about small changes.

For example, at the moment I’m delivering cognitive behavioural therapy to three young people. [The process of small changes] goes well with the actions and goal setting ideas that I’ve introduced to them, as well as bringing structure and routine. And with routine, we all do things in a similar way, but with small changes you can impart bigger positives and processes for what you’re looking to achieve.

This is great for the team because when I started a year ago I didn’t meet any of my colleagues for ages. I just had to go with what I had in terms of how our team functions - which is very unique. I had to use autonomy and my experience to try to focus my practice in a new role. That changed with time as I got used to the way the team works, but this was possibly how they’d done things for a long time. So, this opportunity came at a good time, enabling me to sharpen my skills and the team to refresh their approach.

Have you enjoyed it?

I have enjoyed it because it's brought me closer to my colleagues. With a small group, I’m focusing on making a charter for Evolve. We can now communicate the good work we’re doing, not only internally within the local authority, but also to the community we serve.

When I applied for the job, there was very limited information about what the team did and what the daily practice looked like. Through this work, we can better inform people about what it involves. We've got a few exciting ideas to put those small changes into practice to achieve that aim, and bring it in line with what other groups are doing.

What are your hopes for the project?

"We need to make sure it's not just something we do and then it's done. A year or so down the line, we need to evidence and reflect how those small changes morphed into bigger changes, and for there to be continuity."

To have a lasting impact. We’ve all done things in our careers where new ideas are brought in, and then the priority changes for whatever reason, whether due to funding, personnel or bureaucracy. But with this, we need to make sure it's not just something we do and then it's done. A year or so down the line, we need to evidence and reflect how those small changes morphed into bigger changes, and for there to be continuity.

What small changes are you interested in that your local authority is focusing on?

I’m interested in the changes that the other groups within my team are making. They’ve been thinking about how we try to prioritise front facing work with young people, and in doing so reducing the amount of meetings and things that get in the way with that direct contact.

The charter I mentioned before would certainly be in it, but we want to always prioritise front facing work. At the start we were asked ‘honestly speaking, how much of your time is spent face-to-face with a young person?’ and no one was able to say more than 50% of the time. This isn’t great when the sole purpose of our work is engagement with young people.

Another thing is getting young people’s voices into how the service is run, and making it easier for people to see what we’re doing. One idea was to have a card with a QR code so people can scan and view videos, for example introducing the team. It would be great for the community to look at what our specialism, ethos and purpose is.

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Stories of change in children's social care

How can real system change be achieved in children’s social care, so that services prioritise relationships and empower practitioners? We are supporting local authorities to unlock social workers’ potential.

Read their stories

Written by:

George Parnavelas Evolve Practitioner, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils
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