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Rebuilding hope at the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC)

Jeremy Cooper

In the current climate of complex challenges in adult and children’s services, NCASC offers a fantastic opportunity for us to collectively listen, learn and seek inspiration from one another.

NCASC (2-4 November) will involve the largest gathering of social care leaders for three years and I’m really looking forward to it. As part of our role as lead sponsor we are running a plenary session on the first day of the conference. As a team, we don’t take lightly the responsibility of helping set the tone for three days of reflection and planning by over five hundred local and national leaders across adults and children’s services.

There will be numerous sessions outlining examples of how the big challenges facing adults and children’s services are being tackled, what the opportunities are, and how positive impacts can be achieved. They include: reform of children’s social care, funding interventions, reform of the very challenged high needs and SEND system, changing interfaces with health and other partners, a new assurance regime, and lots more. That’s before we even start on the most significant adult social care reforms for a generation. All of this in the context of massive workforce and funding challenges, exacerbated by cost-of-living increases while we are still recovering from the strains of the pandemic.

So, when we discussed it with the conference organisers at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Local Government Association (LGA), we all strongly agreed to focus on HOPE and the opportunities which are ahead of us. As we started collaborating on this with our clients and contacts and people with lived experience, I’ve been blown away by how much hope we were able to find!

We are excited. At our plenary session we’ll have adult and children’s social care leaders along with people with lived experience sharing their story of hope. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What we discovered in looking across these stories and insights is that there is a common path. It is a disruptive way to find hope. It follows the same journey in three parts: join forces, reframe, be relentless.

Firstly, JOIN FORCES: to combine efforts, to collaborate. This involves broadening your view of who to involve. Listening hard. Collaborating in a deeper way. Sharing power. Co-producing. Building a new and wider inclusive ambition. Secondly REFRAME: to enclose in a new frame. This means understanding all new initiatives and pressures, but then incorporating them and moulding them together towards one inclusive vision. Not becoming overwhelmed by trying to do 20 different and contradictory things. The third stage is to BE RELENTLESS: to maintain vigour and speed. That means don’t wait, get started. Start small and build confidence through delivery. Widen the coalition as confidence builds. Go further when you can and be ready to scale up fast.

At the session at the conference, we are also going to use the wisdom of crowds to collect feedback on more examples of this hope in action. We have high aspirations that despite the amazing array of challenges, this can start a movement of hope.

Written by

Jeremy Cooper

Director, IMPOWER



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