Joining the dots: let’s all change together

Our forum seeks to connect up initiatives driving change in wellbeing, family needs and education, and holistic ways of working

I think it’s true to say that everybody believes things need to change in the family justice system. They need to change for families who are badly let down, they need to change for practitioners for whom the job is increasingly stressful, they need to change for society as a whole. As Desmond Tutu said: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.”

The good news is that there are a tremendous number of dedicated family practice professionals out there who are determined to make something happen for the better and many of them are beginning to put their ideas into practice. While this is very encouraging, the difficulty with this approach is that everything happens in silos, people reinvent the wheel, there is a tendency to competition, there is more than a whiff of the scattergun.

In an ideal world, we would adopt the Olympic motto “faster, higher, stronger – together”. Now more than ever, we need a joined up approach to change. It’s the only way to actually get things done.

A few months ago, Paul Linsell, Annmarie Carvalho and I had a conversation about how we could bring together all the people that we knew about who were passionate about change. Through a series of LinkedIn posts, we invited people to attend an online forum in mid-November. This forum was, and is, intended to be the first of several and in due course there will need to be an in-person forum to harness all the initiatives and ideas.

The remit of the forum was to look at three different areas of needed change: i) wellbeing, ii) a holistic family-focussed way of working, iii) addressing the needs and education of families.

We posed three questions to be asked in relation to each area set out above:

  • what needs to be done in this area to improve outcomes for families and practitioners?
  • how are these things going to get done?
  • who do we need to engage in the conversations to ensure that change happens?

What is clear is that if change is to happen it needs to involve practitioners, regulators, governing bodies, government, educators, the medical profession, and most importantly of all, parents. That’s going to take some doing but we will be able to do it if we all work together. This isn’t a competition. This is life. This is serious.

So what next? Next is to start conversations with like-minded people, to brainstorm ideas, to form groups of people who are determined, passionate about the need for change and willing to engage with those with the power and the authority to effect change.

This then is an invitation to each of you to ask yourselves what do you think needs to change. Ask yourself the three questions we have posed in relation to each of the three areas we have identified as needing change. When you’ve done that, speak to a colleague, preferably two, and join your ideas together. Write down how this change that you think of will be effected and who needs to be involved to make it happen, then spread out the conversation to your local region so as to widen the discussion and the ideas.

And be bold and brave! As Evelyn Underhill, a philosopher of the early 20th century, said “My growth depends on my walls coming down.” In other words – think of all the reasons why changes can happen, rather than all the reasons why they can’t.

After that we invite you to join in the next session of the forum which we hope will be held in the spring of 2024. Look out for posts about it on LinkedIn. In the meantime, if you are aware of initiatives taking place in your area, or if you’re one of the brilliant people actually putting change into effect locally, then get in touch with me, Paul or Annmarie and tell us what’s going on. We are trying to compile a list of all the initiatives of which we are aware and of which others are aware. Our aim is to get everybody together, to get everybody working together, to get everybody to see that we will be so much more successful if we are able to put down our instinctive competitive approach. Our aim is not simply to talk about change but to effect it. And we very much hope that that is your aim, too.