Don’t fall into the trap of only measuring success as the impact of your intervention in the here and now but also focus on how you can make a difference. Also, recognize that by consistently applying, practicing, demonstrating high expectations and aspirations you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.

How important are you?

A few weeks ago I got to talking with a Manager on how he was feeling about one of his young people. It is fair to say he was fed up and frustrated because things weren’t going as planned. How many of us have those days and how many of us need reminding from time to time just how important you are.

I grew up in the ranks of the looked after child system. Placed with Nuns as a newborn, then on to a Barnardos Home and adopted at 18 months old, I found myself back in a Children’s Home as a teenager. I guess that maybe qualifies me a little to comment on how important it is that you appreciate the huge role you play in the life of the looked after child whether you believe it today or not. I firmly believe I would not be here today if it were not for the positive influence my key worker (and the two guardian Angels after him) had in my life.

If you read my previous post, how to demonstrate your positive impact, I mentioned how some of the things you need to do this are right where you are already. At the heart of all successful and consistently outstanding children’s homes lies one significant similarity, the power and evidence of the impact of human relationships. In these homes, positive relationships are the foundation stones upon which everything else stands.

Take a look at the summary of the overall experiences from five recent children’s homes inspection outcomes and you will find at the heart of these, before even a log book or quality monitoring form is produced, the power of relationships dominates the environment.

I know for sure, the impact this can have on a young person. My keyworker sowed the seeds in my life. As a care leaver a young couple eager to help picked up where he left off.  I would not be where I am today, had it not been for their commitment to human connection. 

The power of Human Connection

Rita Pierson’s brief talk on this very subject captures this brilliantly. The main point is about the hugely significant importance of relationships and human connection in the life of every child. Rita Pierson and her Mother before her were teachers. Just like you, they worked with some of the most challenging young people you might encounter and the power of relationships is at the heart of her message. It might just remind you how important you are and the difference you ‘do’ make in the life of the looked after child.

If you have any suggestions for your colleague on tackling those moments of doubt it would be great if you would leave a comment in the comment section below.

In the meantime maybe the letter I later wrote to my own key worker might help make better sense of just how much impact and influence you have.


Dear Chris,

You walked with me through some of the toughest times in my life. You helped me at a time when it seemed like everyone else had given up on me. Not everyone can do what you did. You committed to my best interests even when to do so made you unpopular. You pushed me to realise my potential. Despite the repercussions of my wilful ways, you changed my life for the better.

You gave me a blueprint for survival that will be with me for the rest of my life. What I choose to do with it is a different matter. You gave it none the less.

By the way, I didn’t mean the things I said when I was angry, and I am sorry for the names I called you. I now appreciate your honesty and your Iron man determination not to waiver. I kicked against what you were trying to tell me by being bloody minded, blindsided and just downright abusive and disruptive. I didn’t get it at the time.

You taught me that I was ultimately responsible for my choices.  In life going forward, I found this out the hard way when the repercussions of my care leaver antics yielded their inevitable consequences.

Now I understand what you meant when you said, ‘If there is a hard way to do something I would always find it.’

Remember all those evenings on the front steps where I used to ask you if you deep down believed I could make it in life like you said. You always said yes. The lessons you taught me back in the day, were essential and important lessons that still impact my life today. You took the time to reassure me. It was hard but you were right and I got there in the end.

I want you to know that it was you who taught me the true meaning of self belief

I was devastated when you told me you were leaving. I told you I didn’t think any of us kids in the home would make it if you went. We all tried to convince you we needed you to stay. You told us, until the last, you were there to support us, you would not abandon us. You kept your word. You also told us that we were the only ones who could decide our future. You did your best to help me understand that I had worth and value. You were there to pick me up when I fell.

Above all, you never resorted to telling me/us what we wanted to hear. Many a chair was broken and door slammed but we always came back better. You never allowed us to make excuses for poor behaviour. You tried to teach us the importance of personal responsibility. You cared enough, to tell us when we were wrong. You were consistent in your belief that it was far better for our growth, development, ego and future success in the long run. Maybe that is why all of us loved you.

Thank you

There is so much more to say and if you haven’t fallen off your chair in shock by now, (yes it is me saying these things), I want you to know, I will never forget what you have done for me.


The lyrics below describe and explain the place where many of us were when you first encountered us.