Happy New Year! Didn’t 2019 come around fast? The Christmas decorations are getting packed away and we’re (again!) trying to set New Year’s resolutions we can stick to.

Our resolutions are often about caring for ourselves – to eat healthier, give up bad habits or be more mindful. Sometimes, it’s about being there for our friends and family, showing them our love and empathy more.

At Staf, our New Year’s resolutions aren’t much different. In 2019 it will all be about ensuring care leavers and all of those who support them are listened to, cared for and loved.

We kick-started this work at our sell-out National Conference in November – everything we do this year will build on that.

At our conference we learned more about the impact of adversity on young people; how relationships can help them heal and recover from that trauma; and how we can achieve the culture shift we need to deliver truly trauma-responsive services.

So, to build on our knowledge of relationships, we will work with you and your young people to develop a tool that supports the prioritisation and benchmarking of relationship-based practice which should support your work alongside the new care inspection.

Our work on relationships has already told us that young people see things like honestly, banter and trust as part of a strong relationship with those who support them. That’s the love that already exists in the care system and it’s something I’ll be talking about as part of the ‘love’ stream of the Care Review.

We will also begin ‘Project Return’, which will support care experienced young people, practitioners, managers and professionals to co-create a toolkit of resources to aid understanding of trauma.

We want to see cultural change in the justice system too and will work in partnership with the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice to amplify the voice of young people in the justice system.

And in May we’ll take the next big step in our journey as Dr Karen Treisman hosts a full-day conference on the practical work organisations can undertake to move towards trauma-responsive services.

Book your place now

Of course none of this change is possible if those who work with our young people aren’t valued, nurtured and supported. That’s why, as ever, the voice of our members will be at the heart of everything we do. To do that we’ll continue to develop new ways for members to connect and network – that will start with our first-ever Local Authority Managers Forum in February.

Book your place now

This year we will ensure that all of those who support our young people are listened to, cared for and loved – so that together we can achieve the outcomes we all want to see.

That’s not just my New Year’s resolution – it’s my vow to everyone one of our members in 2019.