Stop, look, listen and learn

Paula Bromley,
Connecting Families Manager,
Bath and North East Somerset Council

I left Bath train station with my colleagues on the 7.30am train to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. We were invited by Jovian Smalley, an Engagement Manager at the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing. Jovian felt that Melton operate at a high level, and therefore it would be really good for us to visit. If I’m honest, I didn’t know too much about the area or the work they were doing, but Melton were very keen for us to visit and to share their knowledge, which is always helpful – especially around my work as Connecting Families Manager (Connecting Families is Bath and North East Somerset Council’s response to the Government’s Troubled Families initiative).

What I really wanted to get out of the visit was some inspiration, good ideas and sharing of best practice. It’s always really good to see the vision of another area, see what they have set out to achieve and to see if we could use some of their knowledge. What I was most interested in, was their employment hub model, which is a project that we are currently developing.

What struck me from the off at Melton was the friendliness and the atmosphere of working together and how they share information. This came from the leadership and it really resonated when we talked to staff from different organisations within the locality hub. The visit made me think that we at Bath & North East Somerset need to be really clear about our vision in the short and long term, that we need to grasp the issue to move it forward and make it happen. The strong leadership and being proactive rather than reactive came over very strongly as a theme that had made some of the ideas in Melton work; we need to do the same and make this work alongside the locality targets we set ourselves. There were some things that were very different to our thinking such as Melton having many of their services in one building – their employment hub. At present we are very much going for a virtual team in this area of business; however, it was interesting talking to a colleague at Melton’s hub from DWP who explained how the transition into the hub had taken place, and some of the practicalities of desk-space and so on that had to be overcome.

I really enjoyed the day (especially the amazing locally produced lunch!) and there are some interesting follow-up conversations for myself and my colleagues. For example, we are going to look further into the information sharing statements that Melton have produced to see if it is something we can replicate, and I definitely want more information on the ‘Me and My Learning Programme’ which is really interesting.

I would just like to say a big thank you to Melton for giving up their time to see us – it was exactly what I wanted, and when me and my colleagues fed back to  our peers and managers in the worklessness group, the word used to describe our visit was inspirational.

My train finally got me back to Bath at 7.00 pm and it felt like a long day, but definitely worth it!

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