Welcoming participants to the North East

18th April 2016

(Consultant Social Workers ready to welcome Frontline cohort to the North East)

Last month we opened our first regional office, in Newcastle. Joanne Ormston, the Relationship and Development Manager for the North East and the North West, writes about the expansion of the Frontline programme into our newest region.  

It’s so exciting to have opened our North East office and to have a base in the region. As the Relationship and Development Manager for this new region, it’s my job to work with key stakeholder groups who are crucial in ensuring that Frontline is delivered successfully in each local authority.

The North East
I’m thrilled to be welcoming the first Frontline participants here in July. The North East is a fantastic place to be. We may be known for our nightlife, but there’s so much more to the area than Geordie Shore!  The North East offers amazing food, lively cities, art, history and beautiful landscapes.  I know I’m biased, but the people from the North East are also the friendliest people you could meet.

Frontline made the decision to expand into the North East for a few reasons. Some of our communities are facing big challenges.  People have less money, poorer health and fewer educational chances than in some other parts of the country and this has a huge impact on children and families. For example, there are significantly more children in care in the North East than the national average, and we have higher than average instances of domestic abuse as well as high levels of neglect.

First and foremost then, there is real need for great social work in the area and our participants will therefore be able to make a big difference to the lives of children and families throughout their careers. It’s not just about the local need though; local authorities showed fantastic enthusiasm for the Frontline model and have continued to support us as we’ve developed our regional footprint.

Welcoming participants to the region
We’ve been working hard with the local authorities in Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead, Hartlepool and Redcar to get things ready for our first cohort of participants. This has included recruiting Consultant Social Workers – the highly skilled and experienced professionals who will supervise and manage the participants. Last month we also held a welcome session where we invited the Frontline participants who will be working in the region to spend the day in Newcastle to find out more about the area.

The welcome session was a useful opportunity for participants to get to know each other and find out about the life of a Frontline participant.  Laura, one of our current participants in Manchester gave a brilliant presentation about her experiences so far which helped bring the programme to life.

We then did a short tour of Newcastle – during which I took the opportunity to give participants an authentic guide to Newcastle life!  I really loved getting to meet our new participants; they are exceptional people who I’m sure will make a big difference in the lives of children and families in the North East. I’m now really looking forward to July when they officially start the programme.

Finally, here are my top tips for the members of the 2016 Cohort who have been placed here in the North East:

  • Be proud.  Only 5% of those people who applied to the programme have been offered a place.
  • Get organised and ready to learn – you’ll be really busy with lots of competing priorities.
  • Network – both locally in your LA and regionally with other participants.  It’s a great way of getting extra support and learning new things.
  • Keep your focus on practice – your CSW will be modelling some great social work, this is a key time to develop your style and approach.
  • Last but not least, enjoy yourself and make sure you invest in a warm coat!