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Joined-up Policy – Whatever Happened To That Idea? Time To Reframe And Return.

Joined-up policy – whatever happened to that idea? Time to reframe and return.

This statement is the most important for us today.

“A set of national conditions for success needs to be in place before can even think about implementing reforms” John Pearce, ADCS President as reported in Professional Social Work (BASW) July/August 2023.

For over a decade in place of coherent joined-up policy (just writing that is surprising and prompts the question, ‘Whatever happened to that idea?’) we have stumbled on with what one person called ‘a series of propositions’ now archived. Attempts have been made to link these into something resembling an analysis out of which comes a policy that orientates a programme, with funding. The most successful have policy and practice like archipelago islands, from service to service within a local authority, and a difference between local authorities.

In the past the local was linked by the national and the regional, there was a national direction towards which all were directing their work. It was understood even down to the individual worker level, what happens here in my everyday work is part of a national aspiration. That some local authorities were further away and taking longer, being confronted by local conditions, did not detract from the national ambition; some of the most determined work happened in these areas.

In the individual everyday and the local authorities across the country here was an embodied representation of social security and welfare state. It is worth stating those words and boldly so we may look at them again and maybe seek their recovery: Social: Security: Welfare: State.

Reframing is a practice, through an alternative perspective being given to a situation, which enables a reclaiming of a positive identity (and solidarity, and systemic health)

Through reframing we can throw off the shackles of negativity that have been ascribed to us and our work. Reframing we can see not ‘failing’ or ‘inadequate’ but remarkable commitment and devotion. We would not be where we are today without people resisting the negative psychological imposition that is a result of the reductiveness of pragmatism taking the place of principle and programme.

The resilience and creativity of all contributions and contributors needs to be celebrated.

Leadership positions are ones we often ask to carry the burden of those experiences we are finding most difficult.

The resilience and creativity of those in leadership positions needs to be particularly celebrated, especially that of Directors of Children’s Services. The determination of this group to do the best that can be done with decreasing funding has been remarkable. That what has had to be done has been too mollifying for some of us, it is sometimes too painful, and we need someone to carry these feelings for us, does not take away that what they have retained through modification has been important. The gap between the effects of poverty and deprivation and what can be done with the current funding is apparent. If you wanted to transform Children’s Services you would not want to be starting from here, yet everyday your local DCS does just that.

We are in this together. In the lifetime of services for children we/they are the first to be grappling with sustaining services in the face of an economic downturn. We/they neither have the theory of practice for these times.

Reading The Forgotten Englishman (Spokesman Books 1970 reissued November 2022) by Ken Coates and Richard Silburn, the cover to the paper back will tell you an enormous amount, is hard. (Re-reading Willmott and Young books is also sobering). It provides a perspective on where we are today, we did move on from what is described in these pages. ‘We did’, those words written with joy and sorrow in realisation that ‘Is this cost-of-living crisis not one and the same?’ Were we too eager and successful in our forgetting? If not to forget, then to compartmentalise. Did we buy the image that was given nationally of ourselves that poverty was beaten? It never was, but many of us had money in our pockets that afforded comfort.

Two verses from Clive James ‘Slow down for me’ come to mind.

Slow down, slow down for me
So I can stay beside you easily
I’ve got these pockets full of lead
You’ve got those angels singing round your head.


When you walk that way
I get breathless just from looking
Where’s the fire?
Where’s the fire and what’s cooking?