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Ebony Hughes

Back to work: Returning to consulting and children’s services

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This week a date arrived that I had for a long time felt far off on the horizon: My return to work following 10 month’s maternity leave after the arrival of my son Henry.

There have been some significant changes since I left back in November: A brand new office, a new Chief Executive and new areas of work to name but a few. However, a lot of what I love about IMPOWER is still here and – in some cases – got better.

So far since returning, it’s been great to hear of the successes we have had with our clients (see for example, our recent case studies in Sheffield, Derbyshire and Wealden District Council), how projects that were in their infancy have made great progress and how we are delivering work with new clients.  Internally we have made improvements to collectively work smarter allowing us to do more of what we love; focusing on the client work.

Maternity leave has been a great reminder of why I am proud to work at IMPOWER.

Whilst I was away I was keeping up to speed with the world of children’s services and it is clear that the challenges faced are certainly not going away and, if anything, they are becoming more acute and complex.

  • We have a new Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Children’s Services, who will want to put their own stamp on how they approach children’s services
  • Numbers of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children are rising, and it is now the responsibility of all councils to pitch in, not just those councils who originally identify the child
  • Financial pressures remain whilst the drivers of demand and, ultimately, cost are far from under control
  • While alternative delivery models for children’s services was on the agenda 10 months ago, I’m surprised at how many councils are now taking this approach, or plan to (my colleagues have written about this)

Now I am back I am looking forward to re-engaging with my clients (NCAS Conference will be a great opportunity for this), working on some client challenges and, of course, working with my IMPOWER colleagues.

Although I am excited to be back to work, there is still going to be an adjustment period. As I write this I am conscious I am missing out on a swimming lesson. I miss the amazing time my son Henry and I have shared so far, but I also know we have many more adventures to come, despite me being back at work. Although I will be impatient to get home from work each day, I know I am lucky that I enjoy my work as much as I do. I know it is going to be a balancing act, but it will be worth it.

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