“It takes a whole island to raise a child” that was the clear message coming from the 3rd ‘Growing Up In Orkney’ conference.
Shetlander, Davy Clubb delivered the keynote speech “Heart and Head: Home and Away” sharing his personal journey from a history student with political ambitions, through social work till today as a foster carer.
Davy Clubb’s journey is one shared by the development of children’s services. The importance of relationships is now placed very much in the heart of them – relationships between those being cared for and between those doing the caring.
Returning to Shetland after 9 years of working in residential care and fostering in Sweden, Davy shared how his practice and understanding had evolved with those experiences. Sweden had a profound effect on him but those new experiences were built upon a foundation of strong core values of social justice and equality. In Sweden he experienced the importance of consistency of care in a family setting.
“It was a community within a community – a feeling of belonging”
“Be grounded in yourself, ” he advised.” You are not superhuman and not perfect.”
The conference was a bringing together of a wide range of people, professionals and volunteers, who work in Orkney’s children services. The message from Davy Clubb built on the themes of ‘Growing Up In Orkney 2″ and the work being done around ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences).
Davy had seen many changes over the years in social work till we have come to a point where head and heart must balance.
“Soft skills? They are tough. This work is a human endeavour, a challenge. We have to be frank, firm and fair responding with affection”.
John Loughton the previous day at the Youth Conference had said, “All the scars on my heart as a teenager are now the lines on my C.V.” where he reflected on his early years.
Davy Clubb described how “negative experiences can often inform you more than the positive ones – it shows you where you don’t want to go.”
Fostering, looking after children in your home, demonstrated the importance of the strengths of family care where there is a sense of place and identity.
For Davy Clubb his work is more than a job, it is a vocation – working with real people and the stakes are high.
“Work with love and build on your strengths. It takes a whole island to raise a child.”
The main part of the conference was taken up with a variety of workshops and an opportunity for those attending to have conversations with one another.
Peter Diamond, Head of Leisure and Lifelong Learning at Orkney Islands Council said that much of the conference was about ‘people talking to each other’.
” It is a really good chance to quiz each other.”
Children’s Services has not yet achieved what it set out to in its strategic plan. Peter Diamond said:
“I have frustration about things we have not achieved. Challenging change is where creativity is nurtured. Sometimes the best ideas can be created out of those challenges – we have a new way of working.”
Orkney will continue to build upon the ideas flowing from these conferences and shaping a Children’s Service built upon a foundation of strengthening relationships.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame