Patchwork is one of a number of projects that FutureGov is partnering with Surrey on as part of the Shift Surrey innovation lab. It will be anchored in the Family Support Programme, helping practitioners to connect as a team around the family, building on related work both Staffordshire and Brighton are leading supported by Patchwork.
It is a another big step forward for Patchwork, where it will be made available to all council teams, partner agencies and the voluntary sector covering over one million people (almost 2% of the UK).
We’re genuinely excited at the prospect of supporting better partnership working, meaning local services and practitioners coordinating their work together earlier to deliver better outcomes for families. Having now been in Surrey kicking things off for a few weeks now, we thought it might be useful to share some of the lessons we’ve gained from working with Surrey.
1. Know what the barriers are
Surrey have usefully spent a lot of time thinking about what the barriers to partnership working are and aren’t. As a result they know frontline practitioners want to develop teams around families and to work together earlier, the issue for them is How?
Any solution to this needs to take account of the size of the county council, the differing nature of the boroughs within it and the fluid nature of families moving in, out and around Surrey.
What we notice on our work with Patchwork and other projects is that everyone involved wants to make partnership working simpler and easier for frontline staff. In Surrey’s case, step forward Patchwork.
2. Leadership + Vision = Difference
Surrey have provided strong and visible leadership to the project. They have been engaged and working closely with FutureGov to not just sponsor the project but to really lead it. They have been able to articulate clearly what the end of this part of the story should look like for staff and clients alike so they understand the journey they are on.
The whole point of any change project is take people from A to B with B being a better place, if B can’t be described then how will you compel people to join you and crucially how will you know when you have made it there?
For Surrey they have been really clear that they want all practitioners working with their initial 400+ troubled families to be connecting with each other via Patchwork so that partnerships that already exist can be strengthened and amplified across all partners organisations and families.
Knowing the difference you want to see gives any project a better chance of success.
3. Empowering and giving rather than closing down and controlling
Another interesting aspect of the Surrey approach is that there is a very strong sense that this should be in the first instance an internal change project, where Patchwork as a tool can drive broader organisational change.
By embracing the social technology that is Patchwork, the council wants to put the responsibility for building relationships for frontline practitioners back to practitioners.
There is a very visible story or measure of success around the range of organisations / agencies in Patchwork growing, as a visible manifestation of this.
However there is also an equally important unsaid story about empowering and trusting practitioners to know who needs to be invited in to a case and giving them the ability to make that connection simply and easily.
Patchwork is tool designed by practitioners for practitioners so this approach really resonates with us and our guess will be that it will resonate with frontline workers too as Patchwork is rolled out.