“We are most effective when acting together.” That’s one of the messages that shapes the work Sugarman Education do. They firmly believe in the strength of a collaboration when approaching challenges in working with children and young people. As a group, they work to place engaging, qualified and talented education professionals in schools across London and Sydney, while supporting the development of children and young people. Sharon Mohan, Head of Children’s Services, states that “I believe that all children/young people regardless of their background or circumstances, should have a happy and fulfilled childhood”; highlighting the drive to set up every child and young person for a successful future.
No matter how much we hate to think that children can have less than idyllic childhoods, at one time or another, every family will be susceptible to ‘vulnerabilities’ – which Sharon defines as “something about the child, parent, family, community or system is creating a risk of poor physical or mental health”. As a result, it’s of the utmost importance that the structure is in place across the UK for services and professionals to come together and keep children on track for thriving futures.
A child can become vulnerable for a whole range of reasons, thereby making each case different. Circumstances can include poverty, single parenting, unemployment, relationship problems, illness, frequent family relocation, family violence, alcohol and other drug use, racism and other forms of discrimination, and social isolation. No matter what the trigger is, services like Sugarman need to ensure that the professionals involved in the safeguarding process are ready and able to effectively develop positive futures for every child.
People are at the heart of what Sugarman do, and it’s refreshing to see such a positive focus defining the values of an agency. It can be all too common that a service in social work or care is shaped by the struggles or issues within the sector. Instead, Sugarman Education work from a place of positivity, recognising the need for PEOPLE to be at their core.
Vulnerable children and young people can face a whole range of challenges and risks as they grow up, depending on their personal circumstances, and so it’s vital that practitioners have a collaborative mindset when looking after them. After all, social workers are not the only professionals who encounter children and young people at risk; therefore, by recognising that people need to act together, we can all come together to support future generations. Top priority within Sugarman is given to creating a culture of high educational aspirations, and that it ripples through to inspire the children/young people to strive for accelerated progress.
The team recognise the challenges facing practitioners nowadays, quoting that the underfunding and overworking of social workers will always be a platform for complications. The systems and processes need to be streamlined so that it becomes a simpler process to work together. Educational professionals, if they’re trained properly and incorporated into the safeguarding process, can be the strongest allies of social workers; creating a dynamic of collaboration. It’s with this awareness that Sugarman approach the future: they’re aiming to get to a place where they can facilitate bespoke training for alternative learning providers, whilst working with designated teachers, social workers, foster carers and educational practitioners.
Sugarman Education is part of the Cordant Group, the UK’s largest Social Enterprise with an overarching social mission to make a positive impact on society and the lives of others.
Sugarman Education put a real focus on nurturing relationships – with clients, candidates and colleagues. They have some really exciting projects coming up within the Children’s Services Team, so make sure you watch this space for all the latest news!
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Above all, as a society we must be aware of the social, educational and economic costs of failing to help vulnerable children; and this is something Sharon professes is embedded in the culture at Sugarman . “I believe that supporting vulnerable children is the biggest social justice challenge of our time”. There’s a passion for safeguarding, but luckily, it’s not without an honest look at the state of play in the sector. Given the funding issues across all of social work and care, Sugarman hope to promote the value in early interventions, as that’s when it is most cost-effective to invest in young children and their families. Therefore, while it does not prevent future problems, getting in early can help reduce the likelihood of further complications, and successfully turn things around for the vulnerable individual.
Despite their existing ambitions to reduce abuse, neglect and youth offending while also increasing the permanent homes available for those in care; Sharon knows the team don’t want to stop there. They’re vastly aware of the opportunities that exist to make an even greater difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people. The issue is, we all need to be smarter when it comes to collaboration. We need to learn when, how and why it is effective; so that we can come together to develop policies, deliver services and positive affect our communities as a whole.
One Stop Social have a whole range of helpful guides, booklets, tools and more in our Resources Page which can help develop good practice when working with children and young people. If you want further support as a practitioner then get in touch and see how else we can help!
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