It’s safe to say that 2016 was a good one for Andy Murray, or Sir Andy as he is now. A Wimbledon title, an Olympic Gold, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, a baby girl and then to cap it all a letter from the Palace requesting him to attend an investiture.
The New Year’s Honours list makes for great conversations and occasional controversy. To my mind it is a wonderful way to recognise hundreds of people, right across the country and indeed right across society, whose efforts have had a positive impact. Whether that’s entrepreneurs creating jobs, sports stars providing wonderful role models of determination and dedication, scientists broadening our knowledge or someone quietly volunteering to help the lonely or elderly, the honours system is a way for a society to show its appreciation and gratitude.
Given my admiration of the honours system I was particularly delighted to discover that the current and a former head of our Children’s Services department had both been appointed CBEs in the recent New Year’s Honours list.
Clare Chamberlain is our highly respected interim director of Children’s Services. Her CBE has been awarded for services to children and families over a 35-year career. Clare has led work on something called Focus on Practice which is an important programme designed to enhance the skills of children’s social workers and develop more effective help for families. Its key proposition is that social work should encourage families to seek solutions for themselves, with the support of highly qualified social workers.
A recent Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services rated the Royal Borough’s service as Outstanding, the first in the country to receive this rating under the new Ofsted framework. Indeed, the inspectors reported that ‘If you are a child who needs help and protection or to be looked after, Kensington and Chelsea is one of the best places in the country to live.’
I know that Clare is immensely proud to receive her CBE but was very keen to emphasise that the award also honours the hard work and commitment of the teams of social workers who are dedicated to helping children and their families.
Before Clare took the helm at Children’s Services we were fortunate to have Andrew Christie in charge. Andrew left us, relatively recently, to head up a new Trust that will take on Birmingham’s Children’s Services. Andrew has also received a CBE for his services to children. Like Clare, Andrew is very highly respected in his field and admired by all who have worked with him.
Children in Kensington and Chelsea have indeed been fortunate that our social work teams have been headed by Clare and Andrew. Both of them have spent a working lifetime thinking hard about the best way to protect those who are vulnerable and how to give them opportunities to thrive. I wish them both a wonderful day at the Palace.