It is probably safe to argue that hellos and goodbyes are stressful for most people in most times of their lives. There are two main reasons why this is harder for young people who are in care. Growing up already is a time of many uncertainties and transition during this time are especially hard. Then, secondly, young people who are in care are more likely to have experienced difficult goodbyes and hellos and have had relationships with adults that were less than what they needed. Therefore, workers who work with young people during transitions need to have special sensitivity to the needs of young people.
An introduction to a new worker or a referral to a new service should not be dictated by age or the structure of the service, but rather it should be guided by the needs of the young person. Of course, laws are often structured around ages and sometimes have sharp cut-off. However, in practice there a great influence that an individual has in shaping the transition between services for a young person. It can be difficult to be introduced to a new service 6 months (or any length of time) before the transition actually takes place, as it keeps the young person from living in the current moment and discourages a young person from investing in the relationships they currently have. Therefore, an introduction needs to be handled delicately and with close communication between the two services. Conversely, surprising the young person with little warning can have an equally bad impact on the young person’s life. Close collaboration between services and transparency with the young person are fundamental to good transitions.
To adapt this Guide to your practice, you need to consider how ‘transitions’ in and out of your service are currently structured. Ideally, involve young people directly or gather their feedback to understand how these transitions are experienced. There is a fundamental difference between how transitions are planned and how they are felt, the aim is to lessen that gap. There are many minor things that can have a big impact on the experience, such as the organisation’s policies, the organisation’s recruitment, and the choice of communication medium. In a moment of calm, it could be useful to reverse engineer the transition and reflect (ideally with colleagues) how each individual step is or is not benefiting the young person. As a first step to this, you would need to map out the transition in detail (and not just the ideal steps, but also the likely steps based on experience) and list all possible deviations of that roadmap. Secondly, critically assess whether a step has a positive or negative impact on building a relationship between worker and young person. In this step also consider, which part of process is truly necessary and identify steps that are simply ‘how things were always done’. In all of this involve the young people who have experienced this process. Thirdly, imagine the ideal transition and map this out in equal detail. Lastly, openly discuss the gap between the ideal map and the current process map and creatively discuss how this gap could be closed.
Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life. For example, everything we learn as children depends on others teaching us. But did you know that good relationships also have an influence on our physical and mental health (Griffith, 2017)? Relationship-based practice combines what we know about childhood development, trauma, resilience, and relationships to promote the best for children and adolescents.
Early life experiences shape our mind and body in ways that we are understanding more and more, especially when these experiences are traumatic. Trauma-informed practice takes this knowledge and creates a holistic framework for practitioners and organisations to create healing and safe spaces and ways of working.
What do IT systems and relationships have in common? Both usually run in the background and are easily taken for granted. Perhaps surprisingly, IT systems can have a big influence on the quality of relationships and relational practice in general.
When you know your goal you do whatever you need to do to reach it. But what if you defined the goal in the wrong way? In this Guide we explore how the goal affects your actions and how you can make sure that you are measuring your success in the right way. Are you meeting an outcome or are you filling a need?
One of the first things you learn when you start your job is when you need to arrive and when you need to leave. Have you ever considered that the pattern of your work affects the relationships you are building?
Organisational values influence the working culture. They can inspire workers to follow the organisation's mission. However, for them to have an impact they need to be developed with staff and young people.
It is important to keep learning and growing. Recognise your staff’s value and expertise by developing internal training and discussion sessions. Enable staff to learn and train more. Training should not be a tick-box exercise but a place for growth and reflection.
As is often said, hurt people hurt people – it is even more important to consider the flipside: supported people support people. Working with young people and caring for them can be a demanding role, especially in under-resourced and stressful environments. A truly relational organisation also invests in the relationships between managers and staff, creating a positive environment for everyone.
Relationships do not just depend on one person, but rather on a network of people and the culture of an organisation. Sometimes one person who simple ‘doesn’t get it’ can put barriers in the way for an entire team to become less relational. So, it’s easy to see why recruiting the right people is so important to create and maintain a relational organisation.
All relationships take time and effort to build and develop relationships with young people with care experience is no exception, perhaps being even more difficult due to their backgrounds however with the right understanding and approach you could develop a strong and positive connection which will benefit both you and your young person.
Relationships are essential to all parts of life and encompass both our professional and personal lives. They are a vital part of the support networks for our young people and the stronger the relationship the better we can all do our jobs, perhaps making them feel less like a job and more like a vocation. And perhaps more importantly, the stronger the relationship the more important a young person might feel.