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Name: Jess Markwart
Location: North Yorkshire
Current job title: Team Leader- Multi Agency Screening team

I joined the Firstline programme because I was looking for something that would challenge me both professionally and personally. I was also interested in the idea of learning across several different formats, over a long period, to enable me to really embed the learning into my practice.

As a result of the programme I now have a greater understanding of the power of language and how to harness it to my advantage. It’s helped me learn to take credit where credit is due, to think about my actions, and recognise that positive outcomes don’t happen through luck or without good planning. I’ve also developed the confidence and skills to have difficult conversations.

The programme involved residentials, group work and one-to-one sessions with a leadership development advisor. You also identify a development focus early on, and work on this throughout the course. The thing I most enjoyed were the one-to-one sessions. They allowed me to discuss and reflect on my practice, develop practical ways of addressing any issues or conflict, and practice conversations.

The Firstline programme has helped me as a social work leader in a number of ways, and taught me that language and communication can be a powerful tool to motivate and influence others. Using my learning from Firstline, I held a development day with the multi-agency team that I lead. As part of this I wrote a public narrative, something I hadn’t heard of before Firstline, and read this during the day. It was key in inspiring and calling the team members into action. I believe it played a huge part in the day and team’s success, and really brought us all together.

As a group, I believe myself and fellow Firstline leaders at my local authority are creating a culture of taking on feedback without being defensive when receiving it, and instead learning and developing. We are learning to have difficult conversations when they arise and tackling issues head on. This is creating a culture of transparency and efficiency.

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