Welcome to the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Page

Nigel Richardson
Nigel Richardson, Chair, Yorkshire and Humber Region


November 2013

Nigel Richardson, Director of Children's Services at Leeds City Council is the new Chair of the YH Group following Alison Michalska's move out of the region to Nottingham City Council

Update from the 2012/13 Annual Report

Building on our firm regional foundation of collaboration and personal resilience, with our Lead Members, chief executives & assistant directors, the Yorkshire & Humber Branch is striving to deliver the best possible outcomes for all our children in the increasingly challenging and resource limited environment.

The branch meets bi-monthly, a ‘Chatham House’ evening meeting with guest speakers, followed by a business meeting the next day.

As local government is not the only sector facing change so we have focussed on the place of children in the health reforms. Recognising the risk that organisational change within the health community could result in unhelpful fragmentation of commissioning arrangements, distracting from delivery but also, the opportunities that could materialise. Concerned that in the debates with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups the children’s agenda risked being overlooked by fi nancial and demographic pressures we:

We have built upon our unique 2011 Children’s Social Work Matters campaign run collaboratively by all 15 regional Councils and DCSs. Our campaign’s objective was to raise the profi le of children’s social workers, with spin-offs to help boost recruitment and improve morale.

With a regional population of over 5 million people and limited budget, we ran a highly targeted digital campaign, infl uencing graduates, career-switchers and qualifi ed children’s social workers, raising awareness amongst the general public, with real children’s social workers championing the campaign.

As one big team, we worked with colleagues in public relations, communications, human resources & social work in all councils and DCSs with the following outcomes:

In September 2012 we carried out in-depth focus groups and telephone interviews with social workers across the region to inform our Phase 2 strategy, resulting in the launch of a private section of the main site for 2,000+ social work professionals in the region. We have created a directory, a Linked-in type mechanism to network, an online forum, best practice, monthly guest speakers and a new video.


Our sector-led improvement activity goes from strength to strength, getting to grips with self-assessment and peer challenge, involving all 15 local authorities in delivery and receipt of peer reviews and challenge activities focussed on key policy areas. Building on self-assessment and peer challenges we are fi nalising our priorities and support plans for continued improvement.

This year we said goodbye to Elaine McHale, our Chair, Cynthia Welbourn, Sonia Sharp and Judith Harwood and welcomed three interim colleagues; Jayne Ludlam, Jim Crook and Ged Rowney.

Update from the 2011/12 Annual Report

The Yorkshire and Humber branch have made significant strides in working and cooperating together ahead of the implementation of the sector-led improvement expectations. The members work and play hard and many of us enjoy taking part in sponsored events in aid of various charitable causes. As well as having a strong support network professionally, we always endeavour to support each other informally. We have established some firm foundations, particularly in relation to the way in which lead members, chief executives and directors of children’s services will work collaboratively to support the highest possible quality of services for all our children.

Meetings and events

The branch continue to meet on a bi-monthly basis which are held in two parts; an evening meeting with guest speakers, followed by the full business meeting on the following day.

Guest speakers have included Christine Gillbert (Ofsted), Mark Edgell (LGA), Matt Dunkley (ADCS President), David Behan (Department of Health), and Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England.


Safeguarding Research Report: 14 local authorities in the region have taken part and contributed to the research, being the largest nationally ever to have been undertaken. This helps us to identify systematic approaches to how we deal with demand on the front door.

Attract and Support Project: The project and showcase of this programme includes:

  • regional commissioning of social worker agency staff;
  • our succession planning programme has been held in two cohorts and key successes include the concept of the leadership model itself which has attracted 62 leaders into the first intake. The programme has received some good reviews about its intent, focus, approach and early impact;
  • training and development for lead members, which will be undertaken through a series of regional meetings, one-to-one support and access to training;
  • an internal programme and publicity for attracting and retaining social worker staff in the Yorkshire & Humber
  • work to develop partnerships between employers and educators and to provide a framework to establish a regional partnership with Higher Education Institutions.

Further meetings have been held and attended as part of projects and sector-led improvement work including:

  • Munro Conference: The aim of the conference was to bring together leading figures in the field of safeguarding and child welfare to discuss the issues and challenges in implementing The Munro Review of Child Protection. The conference was attended by directors, LSCB board managers, LSCB chairs, lead members, practitioners and academics from across Yorkshire and Humberside.
  • Showcase Event: This event was to showcase RIEP-funded projects and demonstrate what has been achieved through collaborative working. The conference provided the opportunity for delegates to consider how these strong foundations for collaborative working can be built on once funding for the projects came to an end, and how the benefits of these projects can be made sustainable in the longer term.

The four projects showcased at the conference were:

  • safeguarding: improving the consistency of referrals into child protection systems across the region;
  • YEAH Web: developing a web-based tool to enable schools, local authorities and other education providers to compare their performance with similar schools and colleges in similar circumstances in ‘families of schools’ across the region;
  • lead member support: providing personalised advice and support to individual lead members for children’s services in each top tier Yorkshire and Humber authority and supporting the lead member network; and
  • Attract and Support: increasing the retention rates of high quality, experienced social workers to work in children’s safeguarding services across the region.

Sector-led improvement

Building on our activity we have developed a regional programme for peer support and part of this includes a review covering five policy areas and we have had two local authorities already undergo peer challenge.

Future activities will include workshops and seminars and a series of activities to help local authorities challenge their own performance in key policy areas. We are working to set a strategic direction and support plans for the improvement of children’s services in the Yorkshire & Humber region.

Update from the 2010/11 Annual Report

The Yorkshire and Humber branch continues to meet bi-monthly. Attendance levels are high and the group has continued to develop and strengthen as a region in many aspects. The meetings prove valuable in discussing proposals, making decisions, sharing ideas and the region prides itself on its collaborative working and dedicated support to each other.

Guests have attended our meetings such as Marion Davies, Christine Gilbert, HMCI, and these meetings have proved productive and interesting.

The past year has been particularly challenging with a range of outcomes from our announced and unannounced inspections. However the branch has continued to support each other around these processes and during difficult times.

One success this year has without a doubt been the regional Safeguarding Project, which has revealed some very interesting and extremely useful findings about how the local authorities in the region deal with children’s referrals. The evidence base and information links well with the Munro Review. We have received full participation from all but one of the local authorities in the region making it a truly regional collaboration. The findings and analysis will enable us to review, and therefore improve, practice regionally to a greater level.

The Attract and Support project is another major and significant project, consisting of many workstreams, including: the development of a regional social worker agency; media recruitment for social workers; succession planning; skills bank; and workforce development. This project also has full participation and secured funding and we are excited at what this will bring.

As a region we are seeking to identify ways of collaborating in the delivery of services in order to reduce expenditure and realign our focus for 2011.

We have seen some recent changes to our membership. Nigel Richardson has now transferred as DCS to Leeds. We have recently welcomed John Readman to Hull and Judith Harwood will be DCS for Barnsley in the very near future.

Regional Chair and Reps


Nigel Richardson, DCS, Leeds City Council Email

Reps on Council of Reference:

Nigel Richardson, DCS, Leeds City Council Email

Rachel Dickinson, DCS, Barnsley Council, Email