Opinion: Doing what we can for others

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​I haven’t been in Peterborough much for the past two weeks. I was privileged to be accepted on a Local Government Association (the voice for local councils) Leadership course, writes Labour Group leader Dennis Jones.

I took part with nine others to apply leadership practices and principles in a political environment. I was surprised how local and national events shape your thinking in a positive way.

The other delegates were from my own and other parties. It was interesting to hear how all of us came into politics to make a positive difference in our communities and the lives of others.

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One of the exercises was to use our personal and political experience to help each other with a live issue we faced in our respective authorities. We gave each other time and space to air concerns, asked probing questions without judging. Does that appear like political heaven? Listening without prejudice and trying to help others find solutions to their problems.

Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)
Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)

As the late Jo Cox, MP, once said: “We have more in common than that which divides us.” So very true.

The other reason I was away was to attend a social care conference in my capacity as Chair of the Corporate Parenting committee. I have been a member of the committee since being elected in 2018. I deem it a privilege to serve on the committee and an honour to chair it. All elected members and officers are corporate parents and responsible for the welfare of our looked after, care experienced children and young people. In addition to my role as chair, I take on an extra role as a champion for foster carers. In this role, I do my best to recruit foster carers and ensure their rights and responsibilities are respected and adhered to.

When I took over the chair role eighteen months ago, I had no idea what a kinship carer is, or a special guardianship order, connected person or, frankly, how many ways ordinary people like you and me can become involved in being a foster carer.

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Being among seasoned professionals last week was both humbling and enlightening. I learned how hard social care professionals work, how dedicated they are and how hard their work can be in the most challenging environments. It was a privilege to attend sessions and learn with and from them.

I am not a social worker. I am a lay person trying to understand sometimes complex laws and patterns of behaviour and deal with them as supportively and sensitively as possible alongside the professionals.

I have never forgotten the most valuable lesson I learned at the start of my corporate parenting journey: “Would this be good enough for my child?”

If I, you, we have any doubts then we have a duty to change it for the better for what could be more fulfilling and, in my opinion, important, than the welfare, growth and achievement of our looked after children in the way that we hope for our own?

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Two busy weekends. A lot to learn and take in but I will do all I can to support and encourage all my colleagues, of every political persuasion to do all we can for each other and our communities and our looked after children.

If this has made you curious to know more then please do get in touch.