In the Loop

Key messages and updates around learning, development and training for Manchester Children’s Services.


Reflections on Being an Ally…

With Black and Minority Colleagues

Liz Howard (BASW England) led a thought-provoking session for staff, students and apprentices across Children’s Services on the theme of Anti-Racism in Social Work on 2nd June. She spoke from the perspective of a white woman who wants to be an ally to Black and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families. Liz shared a range of ideas and resources to help all of us who work in Children’s Services to reflect on our practice and to examine our experiences, our thoughts and feelings in relation to race, ethnicity, identity and to help us consider how we can promote an anti-racist culture in our work. We were encouraged to share the presentation with our teams and to think about the impact of racism on individuals, families and communities as well as considering the experience of racism as part of our assessments, plans and interventions with children, young people, parents and carers. Liz recommended a book called ‘Outlanders – Hidden Narratives from social workers of colour,’ published by BASW. 

There was a really positive exchange of ideas between participants (using the Teams chat) which encouraged us to be honest and to keep talking and listening to each other. Thanks to Debbie El Sheikh for organising this session, to Liz Howard for her presentation and to all those who took part for making it so engaging and meaningful. The session has given me new energy to work on being a better ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families as well as providing some resources to help me target this energy more effectively. We also heard about a website for children and young people in Greater Manchester:


Like Liz Howard, I am a white woman who wants to be an ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families. There is a lot that I don’t yet know and my experience is limited but I am open to learning. I know I will get some things wrong but I want to keep learning and growing in my understanding. I hope we can continue the conversation that some colleagues have been having all their lives and others of us have only joined more recently.

‍ - Beck Soloway, 

Social Work Consultant, 

With Children and Young People

Those who have the least power in our world, if we think about this, are children and young people. Adults dictate their schedules, construct the cities and towns they grow up in, make the laws they will be subject to, dictate what they can do when, where and often how. Of course some will say, ‘that’s life’. And it is. But… It’s not our life, it’s theirs. Children’ and young people live with the judgements and decisions made by adults and figure out how to meet adult expectations, or, how to get around what is being asked of them. They learn how to navigate the social landscape with the resources they have available to them. We, as professionals, walk alongside children and young people for brief periods in their lives. The question is; What will we be to them during our time with them.?

Generally, professionals can take on two roles in the lives of children. As a passive passenger or an active enabler. As a passenger we look, we gather, we comment, we talk about. As an active enabler we seek to understand without judgement, give voice to and involve. To be the latter we need to be attune to the individual in order to act as effective agents of change for the child or young person working with them and their families. Thinking of our practice framework, Signs of Safety, how well is this used to understand and give voice to children and young people? Are we utilising this as a passive passenger, or, active enablers? 

One way of being an ally for children is helping them and their families to access resources that will help their development and wellbeing. In the current context, The Holiday Activity Fund, a government grant funding available to support children and young people eligible for income related free school meals over school holidays is available.

Key messages and updates around learning, development and training for Manchester Children’s Services.


Reflecting on Good Practice Week | Upcoming Training and New Program Announcements

Reflections on Professional Development

It was my birthday last week. It got me thinking about all the team meetings, training, coaching and development I have had over the years and how much it has contributed to my understanding of how to be a better practitioner. I know when you are busy with the business of protecting and supporting children and working with parents, it is hard to prioritise learning. The importance of ongoing professional development is crucial to our efforts in supporting children and families. It requires commitment and can sometimes seem like something that 'gets in the way'. Without development, we may hit a professional ceiling and/or not support children and families in the best way possible, to do the job the high standard we all want way we want to achieve. 

Development is everyone's responsibility, and I am sure that in your teams, you are learning from each other and your managers. We all need continue to need to challenge ourselves about our attitudes, our bias, our understanding of people, as well as keep up to date with the models and how they work in practice. It never stops, even when you get to my grand age 🙂

Our Good Practice week in February was a new way of helping practitioners to have bite size chunks of learning and to encourage thinking in new ways. There were a number of highlights: thinking about how we collaborate on planning, how we work with families culturally different from ourselves and listening to a young person telling us what he wants from his social worker. We were challenged to think about our engagement with the families we work with and asked, "can we do even better than we are right now"? 

Our next Good Practice Week will be in September and so I am giving you fair warning! We will be looking again at how we can keep improving and being innovative in our practice areas. What can we do differently and what ideas do we have to improve our work with family members of all ages? More info to come soon...

 - Debbie ElSheikh, Workforce Learning & Development Manager

Upcoming Training


With a view of supporting practitioners in their work with the families, these sessions are open to practitioners in the South Locality (initially). Sessions run monthly with a maximum of 5 practitioners per session. These small group reflective sessions look in depth at the issue of neglect and application of the GCP2 as well as other practice resources.  Here's the link to the training calendar where you can book on. Clinics are generally offered on Tuesdays.

ACEs TRAINING happing in May

An introduction ACEs, Resilience, Trauma Informed Practice session 28th May 1-4pm. This workshop explores and explains the science of ACEs, the key factors promoting resilience and defines what trauma informed practice is. Open to children's services practitioners and multiagency partners. Listed on the training calendar. In a rush, click here to sign up.

SAFE & TOGETHER CORE TRAINING accepting registrations

Safe & Together Institute’s CORE Training is designed to provide a skills-oriented foundation for domestic violence-informed practice. Each day of training provides experiential classroom training focused on the following foundational practice areas:

  • Day 1 Assessment
  • Day 2 Interviewing
  • Day 3 Documentation
  • Day 4 Case Planning

Within Children's Services, interested participants will be asked to complete a brief expression of interest. Those who are interested in attending this training will need their manager’s and service manager’s support, as following the training there will be expectations to support the Safe & Together model being embedded throughout Children’s Services, with various options to do this. You can read more about Safe & Together Core training here.

It is expected that this training may be oversubscribed. We would like to distribute places evenly across services and be able to work with practitioners following the training to support them in a champion role. To achieve this we are asking that those wishing to participate complete a brief expression of interest. 

This training is being offered at 4 different times through 2021. All trainings are scheduled over 4 days, spread across 2 weeks (Thursdays and Fridays). Register your interest here

The first of these training’s is scheduled for July 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th.

Followed by: 

September 9th, 10, 16th, 17th 

October, 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th

November, 11th, 12, 18th, 19th.

New Program

CARING DADS PROGRAM taking referrals

We are pleased to announce that there is a new parenting program available which is now accepting referrals. The Caring Dad’s program will be starting in July. Caring Dads exists to change current practice to better include fathers in efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of their children. Read more…  

Key messages and updates around learning, development and training for Manchester Children’s Services.


February's in the Loop

Good Practice Week

Good practice is something we talk a lot about in social care today. What does it actually mean? There is a lot of pressure on a practitioner to be good at all areas of the work and they are under more pressure than ever in the middle of a pandemic. Audits can just feel like a burden rather than a learning experience. Times are tough. However, despite the pressures, the people we work with need us to be on our game and focused, even more so than before.

The work we do with children, young people and families should be honest, realistic and planned. We should have an aim and an outcome we are all working towards. Our minds are on support, protection and always on moving that young person or family forward so they no longer need us. Our assessments and plans (informed by impact chronologies and the children and families) should demonstrate our knowledge and analysis of the situation. Permanence is our goal for all children. Our recording should be jargon free, empowering and positive where possible. We should be working harder to really engage with people, even if it is on video or in the garden and finding creative ways to speak to anxious children. Our aim should always be to work with the family, with dads and the wider family and to make them part of the plan. SOS should be the model we use and it should thread through all we do with families, as we use great questions and plan towards safety. Tools, models, research should inform what our work and enrich what we do.

This Good Practice Week is aimed at making you think, enhancing your skills and giving you some tools to improve the work we do with families. Please take part and think about what good practice you can show so everyone can learn from you as well as you learning from others. I think the key is to learn together and to learn from each other. Hope you enjoy the week!

Take a look at the schedule here for what’s on. 

Youth Justice Page on opim

The Youth Justice service now has a presence on This lays out the services ethos and ways of working. You can take a look at it here

Key messages and updates around learning, development and training for Manchester Children’s Services.


Social Work Health Check - Now Open

It is that time again for the Social Work Health Check (SWHC). This yearly survey helps with understanding what is working and what needs to be better for social worker’s from across the city and services. The SWHC is open for 2 weeks and to all Children’s Social Worker’s regardless of whether you are part of a locality or city wide teams and services (e.g., Youth Justice, Early Help, Fostering, CSH, etc…). 


This year we are working with What Works for Children’s Social Care in piloting a new version of the Social Work Health Check (SWHC). We really want to hear your views and how social workers in Manchester are feeling right now! It helps us to help you and this is your chance to have your voice heard. Participation is entirely voluntary, it is up to you to decide whether you wish to be involved or not. All details given as part of the project will be anonymous.

The Social Work Health Check is a part of the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) employer standards, which state that all employers should conduct a ‘health check’ to ‘assess whether the practice conditions and working environment of the social work workforce are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.’ 

Further details about the research are provided in the information sheet and at the beginning of the survey. This survey should take 15 minutes to complete. We would be really grateful if you could complete it in the next two weeks as the deadline is 16th December. Further details can be found in the Principal Social Worker &  Learning & Development BULLETIN AND KEY MESSAGES - December 2020 

The Social Work Health Check is a part of the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) employer standards, which state that all employers should conduct a ‘health check’ to ‘assess whether the practice conditions and working environment of the social work workforce are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.’ Typically the SWHC has been designed and administered by individual Principle Social Workers, with no single or standardised survey. 

Being a part of this project to produce a national SWHC gives us the opportunity to influence how this survey is designed, to make it work most effectively for the workforce nationally and therefore improve the wellbeing of social workers. We also have the opportunity to tailor this survey for Manchester, to add in questions that you think we should be addressing. I would be really grateful for your thoughts about the kinds of questions you think we should be asking about our workplace. 

What’s inside….

  • Social Work Health Check
  • Continual Professional Development (CPD)
  • Our Commitment Around Language
  • The Reach Group
  • Key Data findings from parental feedback of Child Protection Conferences