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Reflections on the MSCP/MSAB Joint Conference by Aileen Buckton, Independent Chair of MSCP

Date: Thursday, 14th Apr 2022 | Category: Blogs

Joint Annual Conference Post

It was fantastic to see so many of Merton’s partners and practitioners at the joint conference between the Merton Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP) and the Merton Safeguarding Adults Board (MSAB), and it was a pleasure to be a part of this shared learning event. The conference was opened with addresses from Cllr Stringer, Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education, and Cllr Lanning, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, who expressed their pleasure to see colleagues from across partner agencies coming together to share in the conference.

The first half of our joint conference focussed on family safeguarding and the importance of adopting a ‘Think Family’ approach to safeguarding. To begin our conference we heard from Sue Williams, who developed the Family Safeguarding model as part of her work as Hertfordshire County Council’s Director for Social Work.

Sue outlined that Family Safeguarding is “a whole family approach to working with children and families that supports parents to create sustained change for themselves and for their family”. We heard how the Family Safeguarding approach works with families in a collaborative, strengths-based and purposeful way, that is empathetic to a family’s needs, rights and aims to help them sustain positive long-term change. You can read more about the Family Safeguarding approach in Sue’s presentations slides, here.

Continuing the theme of holistic provision to families, we next heard from speakers Dr Benedicta Ogeah (co-Chair of the MSCP Domestic Abuse & Think Family sub-group), Dheeraj Chibber, (Chair of the MSCP Quality Assurance sub-group) Trish Stewart and Phil Howell Co-Chairs of the MSAB Safeguarding Adult Review sub-group), who spoke about the ‘Think Family’ model and approach in Merton.

Dr Benedicta noted the importance of ‘Think Family’ for our partnerships and the interplay with the MSCP’s strategic priorities of Early Help & Neglect, Contextual Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse. Dheeraj, who had worked at Hertfordshire when the Family Safeguarding model was implemented, spoke of the importance to take key learnings from our recent local learning reviews that highlight the importance of a holistic approach to family support, such as Eddie (Partnership Review), Ananthi (LCSPR) and Basita (DHR). Following this, Trish and Phil highlighted that the principles of ‘Think Family’ is also reflected in the Safeguarding Adults Review framework; where discussions take place with an adult and their family and friends to agree how they wish to be involved. They also touched on the importance of continuing to build on the links between both the CSP and the MSAB in terms of thinking family and the transition for young people into adulthood.

In the afternoon we focused on the transition of young people moving into adulthood. It got underway with our second keynote speaker, Sarah Ashworth, Schools and Families Programme Director at The Charlie Waller Trust. In her presentation, which you can read here, she explored the difficulties, complex needs and pressures young people face in transition to adulthood, as well as some of the physical and psychological challenges faced through growing up. The statistics and figures for self-harm and mental health problems were deeply concerning, and particularly resonated with attendees.

Sue also highlighted some thinking on how to support resilience in transition and the importance for individuals to have: a ‘secure base’ of support from their family and wider community networks; an interesting and engaging education; quality, positive friendships; encouragement to pursue talents and interests, and support for developing positive social values and competencies.
The conference provided plenty of key learning points, with lots to talk about and learn in breakout group discussions. It was wonderful to see colleagues from across the children’s and adult’s partnerships sharing experiences and working together to improve our collective understanding and practice. We will be looking at what multi-agency practitioners shared and considering next steps on both these important topics for the MSCP and MSAB.

Finally, I would like to thank all of our speakers, facilitators and everyone involved in the planning and delivery for this event, and I look forward to further joint learning opportunities in the year ahead.