COVID-19 resources

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System thinking at Hastings community hub

Good Governance Institute

As part of a broader review of the impact of COVID-19 on life in Britain, Jane Hartnell, Managing Director of Hastings Borough Council, reflects on the significant role local authorities have in meeting the needs of their communities during the crisis. Local authorities were asked to establish community hubs, which would mobilise to complement and support those more at risk in the short term – and when the government support was not sufficient – and provide similar support to others who needed help. The members of the Hastings community hub created a local system, offering: a designated and promoted telephone helpline/triage service; a volunteer-led service offering practical support; an information service disseminating key messages with an internet TV offer (‘the isolation station’); a telephone befriending and checking in service; a system of emergency support to those with food shortages; and a local relief fund with emergency funding for community groups. In addition, a series of thematic subgroups meet regularly, bringing together a wider range of organisations to develop a systems-based approach, analyse trends and issues and anticipate further interventions, focusing on mental health; food; children, families and young people; referrals; information and communication.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2021

North Ayrshire: a case study on kindness

Carnegie UK Trust

In 2018, the Carnegie UK Trust was invited to work in partnership with North Ayrshire Council, to explore what it would mean to embed kindness across a local authority, and what that might achieve. This report tells the story of that two-year journey. While there has been growing recognition of the importance of kindness and relationships in recent years, the question of how to embed this into organisational values and behaviours – the practical application of kindness – has received less attention. This ‘case study on kindness’ begins by revisiting our starting ambition to reframe the relationship between local government and communities, and rehearses the activities and achievements along the way, including North Ayrshire’s response to Covid-19. However, it also recognises that the journey is not yet complete: and so, the report finishes by reflecting on challenges and learning, particularly over the last 6 months. It finishes with five priorities for sustaining and developing kindness, which may be relevant and urgent not just for North Ayrshire, but for local government everywhere. These are: create a shared narrative; put power in people’s hands; build on models of partnership; give permission to act; reassess ‘value’ and ‘performance’.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2021

COVID-19 and Communities Listening Project: a shared response

Carnall Farrar

This report considers how organisations and communities across the UK adapted and responded to the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. It draws on over 80 conversations with people from 16 communities across the UK, focussing on how organisations and communities are adapting to meet the needs of the people around them, and the evolving relationships between the public sector, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, and communities. The report reflects on what has been learnt during this time and outlines hopes and opportunities for ways of working, identifying how the public sector and communities can develop sustainable ways of working together to respond to the needs of local people. Key learning from the listening project is summarised through the lens of the seven steps: put wellbeing at the centre – through more genuine and mutually beneficial partnership working; give people permission to take control – through enabling person-centred, not service-centred, responses; help people to help each other – through recognising people and communities are the ‘first resort’ for community wellbeing; support people to participate fully – through more investment in local and hyperlocal responses; move upstream – by ensuring that long-term planning is built into structures and processes; build in radical kindness – through removing the barriers to relational service delivery; tell an authentic story of change – by creating a shared vision and focus for the future.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2021

Pooling together: how community hubs have responded to the COVID-19 emergency

Carnegie UK Trust

Case studies illustrating how communities and public services responded to the Covid-19 crisis, focusing on the role played by community hubs. These were an important, instant emergency response. They were a collaboration between volunteers and the public sector, reached into communities, and built positive relationships between service providers and citizens. Some of the key findings from the descriptive studies include: the community hubs were new structures but based on existing relationships and values; they were flexible and responsive; a key strength of the hubs was the partnerships between the local authorities, the voluntary sector and communities; the value of volunteering and volunteers became apparent – the hubs have become the foundation of increased volunteering, with an enhanced volunteer scheme and database in Lancaster and Renfrewshire, respectively; the hubs have facilitated an approach where the public sector brings its skills and resources into play alongside supporting the community to do what it does well, such as connecting and reaching out to people who don’t readily access public services, like libraries or health improvement.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2021

COVID on three continents: how local children’s organisations in Africa, Europe and South America are adapting to the coronavirus challenge

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to share anecdotally how the pandemic is affecting children, families and some of the frontline local services that support them across three continents. Design/methodology/approach: Three members of Family for Every Child across three continents detail some of the day-to-day challenges they are facing in their work with children and families as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Findings: Social distancing and fear of the virus are hampering front line organisations in Africa, Europe and South America, bringing additional challenges to keeping children safe. Originality/value: These three case studies give a snapshot of the issues faced by three non-governmental children’s organisations over three continents during July 2020.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

Safeguarding children under Covid-19: what are we learning?

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify and share learning about safeguarding children under Covid-19 drawn from a series of webinars held by the Association of Safeguarding Partners (www.theASP.org.uk). The learning is relevant for health, police, local authority and other relevant safeguarding agencies and includes sharing information about both the challenges and opportunities presented during the Covid-19 pandemic. By creating a webinar lead community of learning, lessons can be drawn that will help safeguard children during the remaining of the pandemic and during the release of lockdown as it emerges. Design/methodology/approach: This paper summarises themes from discussions within three webinars run by The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) (www.theASP.org.uk). Each webinar was attended by between 60 and 80 participants, sessions involving presentations and discussions on topics such as “managing safeguarding reviews at a distance”, “the impact on early years’ provision” and “how work with families and children has changed with remote working methods”. With the participants’ consent, webinars were recorded, and these can be viewed on www.theasp.co.uk. Webinars were supported by an on-line programme: “meeting sphere” capturing comments in a “chat” facility and providing capacity for participants to collectively code comments into themes. Findings: Findings from the webinars note concerns about continuing and undetected abuse of children within and outside of the home; about the changing nature of criminal exploitation; and about the strains created by social distancing on children in families experiencing problems with poor mental health, drug and alcohol misuse and domestic abuse. Findings include some important lessons, including the discovery of innovative ways of working, the rapid collation of data across partnerships and about different methods of engaging with children, young people and families. Findings include suggestions about the impact of changes on the future safeguarding of children. Originality/value: There is little published discussion of the implications of Covid-19 on practitioners working on safeguarding children. While some research is emerging, there have been few opportunities for practitioners to listen to emerging practice ideas under Covid-19 or to discuss in an informal context how to address the new and emerging problems in safeguarding children. This think piece contains original material from webinars held with safeguarding children practitioners and is valuable for those working to safeguard children during and post Covid-19.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

Joining the dots? Tackling child exploitation during Covid-19

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: This paper aims to report on findings from action research undertaken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by the Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme (TCESP), a Department for Education funded programme that provides support to local areas in improving their strategic approach to child exploitation and extra-familial harm. Design/methodology/approach: The research included a scoping review of the literature, and focus groups with programme staff, strategic leaders and professionals from different services across England. To provide a strategic lens, findings were then considered in relation to TCE’s “Joining the dots” framework, which encourages examination of the relationships between different forms of child exploitation. Findings: The action research highlighted the emerging and tentative nature of the knowledge base relating to child exploitation and extra-familial harm in the context of Covid-19. Findings revealed that there had been innovation in the use of digital methods and direct working, integration of practical support with other forms of service delivery and in partnership working, and also considerable variation in approach across different local areas. Practical implications: Strategic leaders need to use the evidence emerging from lockdown as a basis for further interrogation of emerging data alongside the views of young people, families and communities and their wider workforce. This includes new information about changing patterns of exploitation. Digital delivery and innovation need to be supported by clear strategic guidance, based on review of the evidence regarding increased digital communication and its impact. New partnerships developed between services, data sharing and innovative ways of working that have taken place during lockdown need to be monitored and evaluated for quality and impact. Originality/value: The action research findings offer a snapshot of practice regarding child exploitation and extra-familial harm at a mid-point in the Covid-19 lockdown in England and Wales.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

The team as a secure base revisited: remote working and resilience among child and family social workers during COVID-19

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: Social work teams can provide a secure base for social workers, supporting them to manage the emotional demands of child and family social work (Biggart et al., 2017). As the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated increased remote working, social workers have needed to maximise their use of virtual networks and navigate new ways of connecting with colleagues. This study aims to examine the extent to which social work teams can function as a secure base in the context of remote working. Design/methodology/approach: Between 19th March and 13th June, the authors undertook 31 in-depth, qualitative interviews with child and family social workers across 9 local authorities in England. this research captured social workers’ perspectives on remote working and team support throughout lockdown in England. Findings: In this study, the authors report findings in three key areas: how social workers experienced the sudden shift to increased remote working; how social work teams provided a secure base for remote working; and the challenges for sustaining the team as a secure base when working remotely. Originality/value: These findings will be of interest to social workers, managers and local authorities as they adapt to the challenges of increased remote working in child and family social work.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

Implementing E-mentoring with care-experienced youth under “lock-down” – a South African experience

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: This paper aims to describe the challenges and potential benefits of moving a mentoring programme for young people in care and care leavers to an online mode of delivery in response to the South African Government’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Design/methodology/approach: A descriptive account incorporating reflections from staff responsible for the move to e-mentoring and from South African and UK researchers undertaking an exploratory study of mentoring vulnerable youth at the time when COVID-19 restrictions were imposed. Findings: E-mentoring can provide an effective means to maintaining the essential elements of a well-established mentoring programme for young people in care and care leavers under government enforced “lock-down”. E-mentoring presents particular challenges and benefits in the South African context. Youth in care and care leavers have unequal access to a digital infrastructure, but this can be overcome by investment in resourcing, equipping and training carers, mentors and mentees. The geographical reach offered by online platforms gives young people access to a more diverse pool of mentors. Originality/value: Both care leaving services and the use of e-mentoring to meet the needs of vulnerable young people are emerging areas of practice and research interest. This paper brings the two areas together in the context of South Africa under COVID-19 “lock-down” through describing the response of one mentoring programme and highlighting the benefits and challenges.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements: overcoming the challenges of Covid-19 measures

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: Information sharing and joint working between agencies undertaking direct work with children have long been recognised as fundamental to robust and effective safeguarding and child protection arrangements. The public health response to Covid-19 disrupted those arrangements abruptly. This study aims to identify some of the innovative practices that have been implemented and how responses might inform planning for multi-agency working in the future. Design/methodology/approach: This study presents reflections on preliminary fieldwork from a study of how agencies in London are responding to the challenges for multi-agency safeguarding arrangements created by the Covid-19 measures. It draws on the experience of expert practitioners in the research team as well as interviews with 17 senior professionals from local authorities, safeguarding partnerships and health. Findings: The study participants endorsed known concerns around increased risks to children and raised new concerns about particular groups of children that under normal circumstances would not have been at risk. They identified some unexpected benefits derived from new arrangements, especially in relation to engagement with remote working. Originality/value: Early insights are offered into promising initiatives to preserve strong multi-agency arrangements in crises and strengthen the resilience of the child protection system.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020