Leading and supporting our people

I would like to focus on our people for a moment. And by this, I mean all of our people supporting children in the family courts – be they local authority social workers, legal advisers, family court advisers, solicitors, barristers, judges, court staff or civil servants. Every one of them has been working to full capacity since March – trying to figure out the best means to represent their needs, wishes and feelings in proceedings and to make decisions in their best interests. It has been busy!

In addition, there have been periods of no school, some school, caring, recovering, being fearful and living generally with uncertainty that has never presented itself in this way before. We must take care of our people and we have to lead well. Cafcass staff have been notable by the very small or non-existent absences we have experienced, and I am proud of my colleagues. I know too that the worries we had as a system in March that the people end of our business would collapse, has not happened. But we have a long road ahead and pace will be everything.

I hope we can continue as we have throughout to use our partnership and shared values to think together about how to keep our people going. Our staff survey showed significant and persistent worry among colleagues about their work and life balance. Most have used the non–existent travel time to add more productive hours to their days, some with children and the pressure of caring for others. We are heavily focused on reducing or at least not increasing workloads any further and this will continue into the months ahead. I have tried to be in conversation with as many of our partners as possible about shared messages and actions. I would like us to try to have a shared leadership ‘think in’ with partners in the new year to challenge ourselves as to how we can do more with our colleagues to make the next year the best it can be for them and the families they serve.

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