Mar 31

Farewell Message from Di Smith

This is my final message to you all as I leave my role as Independent Chair and Scrutineer of Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership. Endings are always a good time for reflection and so I have been thinking back to when I started as the Independent Chair of Croydon Safeguarding Children Board in August 2017. This was the month of the publication of the Ofsted inspection that found the council’s children’s services and the safeguarding board to be ‘inadequate’.

So much has changed since then and I want to take this opportunity to remind us all of the improvements which were recognised in the ‘Good’ Ofsted in early 2020 including positive references to the effectiveness of partnership working. I want us to remember this achievement and the positive impact of the partnership’s role in improving the safety and wellbeing of Croydon’s children, young people and families. In safeguarding partnerships we spend a lot of time learning lessons when things go wrong, but we should also learn and reflect on our successes and when things go well.

In the last couple of weeks there has been a national period of reflection as we mark the passing of a whole year since the first Covid 19 lockdown. We have faced, and responded positively, to more challenges than we could ever have imagined when the partnership last came together ‘face to face’ at the CSCP meeting on 24th February 2020. We were all together in the Business Exchange Hub. There were no masks, no social distancing and not a bottle of hand sanitiser in sight. What a lot we took for granted back then.

Although many things have changed, I think we can all be proud of what Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership has achieved in the last year. It has adapted well and responded positively to the effect Covid has had on the way we engage with children and families and how we work together in virtual meetings. As we emerge from our third national lockdown, we are developing a clearer understanding of the impact lockdown has had on the health, wellbeing and potential life chances of Croydon’s children.

Understanding the impact and responding coherently in a way that supports and empowers children and families in Croydon will need to be at the heart of the work the partnership undertakes in the next year. Mental Health will be a priority in the next twelve months and the vulnerable adolescents priority group will be reviewing the impact of Covid on vulnerable teenagers and how we need to reshape the way we work to meet their needs.

I am really pleased to be handing over the role of Independent Scrutineer to Eleanor Brazil who is already well known to many of you. She brings a wealth of experience, together with a deep knowledge and understanding of Croydon and the journey of improvement we have been on as a partnership. The role of Independent Chair is no longer required as the CSCP moves to the next stage of implementation of the ‘new’ multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. Debbie Jones has taken on the role of Chair of the CSCP Executive Group and this responsibility will be rotated so that each of the three partners (council, health and police) take the chair in due course. The Executive Group provides strong leadership to the partnership and I want to pay tribute to the unstinting commitment of colleagues Elaine Clancy, Fiona Martin, Shelley Davies, Roisin Madden, Shaun Hanks and Debbie Jones.

But I can’t end without mentioning how much I have enjoyed working with the CSCP business team. The smooth running and efficiency of the partnership is down to them and I want to give special thanks to Maureen Floyd, Anita McGrath, Donna Kingsley, Lauren East, Vicky Hersey and Nia Lewis.

I feel very privileged to have worked with you all over the last three and a half years and I recognise and appreciate your enormous commitment to Croydon and to its children and young people.

I wish you all the very best for the future.

Di Smith

Independent Chair and Scrutineer

Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership

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