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Frontline’s 10th anniversary year is drawing to a close. It has, as ever, been a busy 12 months with the renewal of our contract to deliver the Frontline programme, the bedding in of our Pathways programme and our first ever Frontline Awards. But it has also been a year to celebrate a decade of Frontline, all that we have achieved and the difference we have made. Everything we have done across the year to mark this milestone has given me a welcome opportunity to reflect on so many things about our journey and what I have learnt along the way. So, here are 10 thoughts on 10 years of Frontline. 

1. Social work is about change, and so is Frontline 

Social work creates change: change that can turn a child’s life around, keep them safe and give them the chance to reach their full potential. Frontline was founded 10 years ago in recognition of this. And we create this change by embracing it ourselves, in everything we do. Through the people we’ve brought into the profession, many drawn from different disciplines who would not have considered social work otherwise; by training them in a new way; through pushing for culture change and backing innovation; and by shifting how social work is seen. 

2. Visions are made for sharing 

Frontline came from an idea. A vision about how to do things differently and change lives. But for it to become a reality, others needed to share it. Without the belief of our earliest backers, Frontline would not be where it is today. They had the courage and the influence to make things happen, or the connections to help us grow, or the generosity to support Frontline. Ten years on, well over 2,000 new children’s social workers have joined the profession, hundreds more have been through our leadership programmes and hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and families have been helped.  

3. The power of partnership 

Partnerships make us powerful. It’s through our partnerships that plans are put into practice and ideas become reality. When the first Frontline programme was launched in 2014, we had 18 local authority partners. Now we work with 145 out of 151 local authorities across England. It has been a journey of genuine collaboration, built on a commitment to do the very best by children and young people, a commitment shared by our colleagues at the Department for Education who have been at our side throughout.  

4. Social workers make strong leaders  

With children’s lives at stake, good leadership is essential in social work. Yet when Frontline was founded, there was no national programme focused on developing leadership for social work managers. Our leadership programmes – Firstline, Headline and launching last year Pathways – were created in response to this need. Five hundred plus participants completed the Firstline programme; already, we are working with 139 local authorities through the Pathways programme. By the end of next year, 2,000 social workers will have participated.  

5. Diversity is non-negotiable 

Frontline proudly takes a proactive stance on diversity and inclusion, key challenges in social work. We are committed to anti-racist practice and LGBTQ+ rights across all of our programmes, as well as in our own recruitment to the charity. Winning the Pink News Third Sector award in 2019 was a moment of pride for me, as was our fantastic ranking at number 33 in the Social Mobility Foundation’s Employer Index this year. Frontline’s vision is of a society where no child’s future is limited by their background and we want the same equity for our participants and employees. 

6. Fabulous fellows and amazing ideas 

Frontline’s fellows are its heart, numbering well over 3,000: social workers brought into the profession via our Frontline programme; those who have completed our leadership programmes; practice tutors and consultant social workers who have helped them. They make up an extraordinary community of shared knowledge and experience, and a supportive professional network for all who join. Frontline is proud to have helped make a number of their ideas become a reality, from an app to help social workers manage their caseloads, to a scheme to ensure nutritious food for children in care. Innovation is key to excellent social work. 

7. Keep on connecting 

If our earliest advocates and our working partnerships form Frontline’s foundations, then the connections we continue to make take our mission of social change even further. In this year alone we have connected so many aligned individuals and organisations, all sharing our common goal of creating change in the lives of children and young people. As I joined Frontline’s staff and fellows to exchange ideas and insights at our away day recently, I was reminded again of the power of connection to inspire and motivate. 

8. Share the good news 

Social workers do amazing things. They turn lives around. They believe in children and give them the chance to reach their full potential, no matter what their background. In this, Frontline’s 10th year, I feel more determined than ever to shout about it! Our This is the Work campaign shows the power of social work and tackles the negative myths that persist. Our first Frontline Awards were a huge success, a fitting tribute both to the social workers and young people involved. They’re now a fixture in the Frontline calendar, a mark of our commitment to raising the profile of this extraordinary profession. 

9. We can always do more 

The last 18 months have seen the two of the most significant developments in Frontline’s history: the launch of the Pathways programme, through which we now partner with nearly all local authorities in England; and the renewal of the Frontline programme. But it is not in Frontline’s DNA to pause. There is always more we can do to create social change for children. So, we will keep bringing new people into social work, developing brave leaders, changing cultures, supporting our fellows, making new connections, telling stories of great social work, fundraising for our goals and backing innovation.

10. Our “why” – children and young people 

This is the reason we do what we do, what motivates us to keep pushing and striving for better. At Frontline, it is the 700,000 children and young people supported by a social worker each year. They are at the centre of our mission. It is for them we work for change. Around 150,000 children have been supported by social workers on our programmes and many thousands more since. They do not deserve the difficult circumstances in which they live, but they do deserve the chance to be the very best they can be. We are committed to making that happen. 

Impact report 2023

As our tenth anniversary year comes to a close, we celebrate all the achievements that Frontline and our social workers have made over the past decade. Our impact report captures how we have made and continue to make a difference for children and families across England.