The process for re-imagining early help is appended at the end of this note.

Themes in second meeting

  • BD_CAN as a guide. During the lockdown a lot of the problems we are trying to address were addressed:
    • Civil society naturally rose up to the challenge
    • Hubs that made sense to local people naturally emerged
    • There was a natural co-ordination across civil society and statutoryorganisations (statutory organisations realised their dependency on civilsociety)
    • A lot of the bureaucracy and fear disappeared/a lot of trust was generated.
  • Much can be learned by going back to how residents resolve challenges by themselves, without any support from agencies, voluntary or statutory. The family and good neighbours form ‘the team’. There are no forms, thresholds, or services.
  • This is part of what the idea of ‘community social work’ seeks to recover, with family members leading on and owning plans, bringing in neighbours and local organisations and faith groups for support, drawing on help when they need it (as opposed to the constant stepping up and stepping down in current social work plans).
  • There are several barriers to this kind of shift:
    • We know too little about how families resolve challenges for themselves. We need more engagement with residents
    • We do know how much fear the involvement of children’s services generates in families, how it deters them from seeking help from any source (until it is too late)
    • People offering support -from the council, from the sector, from health agencies- don’t know each other as well as they might, or what each other can do. (The pandemic has begun to break down these barriers).
    • It is hard for voluntary sector supporters to hold information as the case develops. A lot of knowledge held by, e.g., a teaching assistant or an early years worker gets lost when the child becomes ‘a case’.


  • The question of thresholds needs resolution but it could subsume the work of Re-imaging. A small sub-group comprising Kevin and/or Russ, a social worker and two representatives from the sector will form a sub-group. The challenge is:
    • Clarity of language (words that make sense to families, helpers and social workers
    • A process that builds on the capability of families and civil society, and keeps the child safe from harm
  • In the New Year we will trial a ‘virtual walkabout’, building on methods used to learn in Asia, Africa and South America, where groups of people, helpers and helped, walk around a community to get to know it and each other.
  • We want to explore how to take the process into communities and to better involve local people. Participants will bring ideas to the next meeting.
  • We will continue to expand the Re-imagining group, with more health representation. Participation can take place on the WhatsApp group and/or at monthly meetings and/or contributing to the sub-groups.
  • We want to make sure there is support for participants who do not have resource to make additional contributions to the Re-imagining process.

The Re-imagining Process


We are mixed group of people from voluntary and statutory sector working together on behalf of the residents of Barking and Dagenham.


Our objective is to:

  • Design, test, and spread innovations that:
    • Make it easier for Barking & Dagenham residents to find the help that they need
    • Make providing help more fulfilling
  • In the first workshops we will be:
    • Establishing strong relationships and trust between workshop participants
    • Use the synergy of the group to find some quick wins.


Ratio is facilitating the process. It will:

  • Guide the conversation to make sure everybody is heard
  • Listen and draw out connections between the contributions
  • Share examples of good practice in the Borough and elsewhere
  • Encourage participants to test and learn from new ideas.