This is my final blog before Christmas and my theme, in light of the season, is children.

Over the past week I have spent some time with Deborah Ramsdale and her team to talk about looked after children, and I have also been out to see John Maddox and Clive Cartman-Frost  to have a look around our MASH (Mutli Agency Safeguarding Hub).  I suppose the MASH could be looked at as the front door of the looked after children system (amongst its other responsibilities) and it was fascinating to sit in as cases were being MASHED (don’t ask!) and also to listen in on a call into the MASH (thanks Jackie).  It was great to see how effective our system is for reporting issues of concern, and how they are then managed in a multi agency way with information being shared between the Council, Police, Health and other partners.

The session I spent with Deborah Ramsdale and her colleagues was also really interesting.  Again, that sense of commitment, professionalism and care for our children came across very strongly. I also learnt that we don’t just keep children safe but we also help to ensure that they can have happy and successful lives. This is really important.  They are our children, we are their corporate parent, and we have to take that responsibility really seriously and make sure they have the same life experiences and opportunities as other children. One of the real concerns that came across was the transition of care leavers from the care system into their adult life, and my mission over the next few months will be to see what more we (and our partners) can do as employers, contractors and commissioners to ensure that care leavers are given the best possible opportunity to be successful.

Last week I was also privileged to attend at Leasowes Primary School.  I had to go and present Caitlin (aged 8) with her prize for winning my Christmas Card competition. I found the prospect of having to present her prize in front of hundreds of small children quite daunting, but as it turned out I really enjoyed it.  What made it special was that Caitlin was so clearly excited to have won, and it was really refreshing to see how the whole school were equally thrilled and excited for her.  They capped it off by singing “We wish you a merry Christmas” to me!  What an absolute pleasure!

And talking of pleasure and carols, I wanted to finish by saying thank you to the staff choir who performed in Staffordshire Place 1 on Wednesday, and to Unison who organised it.  It really put me in the mood for Christmas.

Happy Christmas to you all!”

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