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Reflections on our recent staff conferences

You probably know by now that in my blogs I often like to quote great speakers and inspirational writers or thought leaders both past and present.  Well, someone once said,

“When it seems, all your hopes and dreams are a million miles away, I will re-assure you.  We’ve got to all stick together.  Good friends, there for each other.  Never ever forget that, I’ve got you and you’ve got me, so….  Reach for the stars”

Our conferences this year have the theme of Reconnection, and it was wonderful to see so many colleagues from across the organisation, meeting together, actively engaged in positive conversations, celebrating our achievements and looking ahead to our future.

This was the first time we have been together in such numbers in far too long, and the importance of having a sense of connection and belonging across the entire organisation cannot be understated.  I understand the importance of team working and the close bond that can develop between people and teams within projects and services.  This sense of belonging is important and helps us to thrive as individuals and in small groups.  What is equally important is to have a greater appreciation and understanding of the entirety of our work at St Christopher’s and a sense of what our collective might is achieving.

The conferences play an important part in helping us to do this.  I was fortunate enough to spend time speaking with people during the conferences and to hear from them how they are finding the pressures and the pleasures of their work.  I spoke with some people who had only been with the organisation for a matter of weeks – in fact one person in the UK for whom it was their third day, a couple of people on the Isle of Man for whom it was their first day, as well as long-standing members of staff.  In every conversation, the passion people brought to the conference and the desire to do great things genuinely delighted me.  I spoke with one new member of staff who has expertise and experience of working with families who have experienced domestic violence.  Another who is qualifying as a psychotherapist and building genuine practical experience of engaging with young people in her role.  I spoke to Bev from Rosslyn Road (Just publicly name-checking her here because I called her Debs the other day and I don’t think she is ever going to forgive me).  I spoke to Chris, newly appointed as the participation lead for the Isle of Man, who clearly is driven to find ways to make engagement with our young people meaningful and genuine.

In all my conversations I was left feeling overwhelmed by the talent we have at St Christopher’s.  Whether you have worked here for three days or 20 years, your life experiences, your passion and your expertise is allowing us to make a real difference for the children and young people placed into our care.  How we work together, under the banner of our newly introduced Philosophy of Care, will hopefully enable us to harness that expertise and bring it to greater impact.  What we have to do is have belief that we can reach higher outcomes than ever before.

I recently re-watched Ricky Gervais’s The Office.  In one scene he quotes a song and says, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to”.

Well in the fear of coming across as David Brent (and let’s face it, that ship has sailed) let me leave you by quoting S Club 7 one last time…

Don’t believe in all that you’ve been told
The sky’s the limit you can reach your goal
No-one knows just what the future holds
There ain’t nothing you can’t be
There’s a whole world at your feet
I said reach!