Chair's blog

August 2018

What do we really mean when we say we work ‘in partnership’? What does it mean to work in partnership with professionals from agencies with different organisational cultures and priorities to your own? What does it mean to work in partnership with families and children, or with young people?

These are difficult questions aren’t they, because the nature of successful partnership is not easy to pin down, and state simply.

Some aspects of ‘working in partnership’ are covered by what we mean in Leeds as restorative practice. Perhaps with regard to ‘Think Family, Work Family’ for example, or doing ‘with’ rather than ‘doing to’. These are markers of partnership, of inclusion, shared responsibility and common objective. Yet, while these may be some of the raw ingredients of ‘working in partnership’, these ingredients alone don’t tell the whole story.

In fact I think the catalyst of ‘working in partnership’ is that, in addition to having a shared vision and clear objective of what we aspire to with regards to safeguarding, we also need to remember that ‘working in partnership’ is fundamentally a matter of relationships between people. Like any other type of successful relationship, ‘working in partnership’ cannot be reactive, but always requires care and attention, personal investment, sufficient room for reflection and ‘give and take’ so that in each individual circumstance we can address the question, ‘is this the right thing to do, and is this the right way of doing it for this child?’

As I say above, ‘working in partnership’ raises complex and sometimes difficult questions.