Dare To Believe Conference review

The day was set to be a success, with anticipation building from the first announcement back in July. The conference was based around the concept of 'Dare to Believe', which saw attendees looking within themselves, and their practices, to see what they could aim to achieve that they might have otherwise put aside. The mantra, 'Driving Vision to Practice', was emphasising the concept that an idea can only work if it has the vision behind it needed to take it forward.

The Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld provided the perfect location for the event, with our guests travelling from all over Scotland to attend keynotes from Dr Sandra L. Bloom and Karyn McCluskey.

#DareToBelieve was opened with an introduction from Cathy Jamieson, Executive Chair of Care Visions Children's Services, explaining the thought behind The Why Not? Trust for Care Experienced Young People. The charity grew from a small idea within Care Visions into the thriving and dynamic charity that it is today.

It was then Dr Bloom's turn to take to the podium, as she discussed her new PRESENCE model, and how it can aid in ensuring organisations are trauma-informed and care focused. The model not only looks to direct providers of care, such as Residential Care staff but also focuses on the support teams behind them, such as HR, Finance, Admin and Marketing. She explained that all areas of the organisation are important for the structure and provision of care for our young people.

"Differences in mental models can explain why two people can observe the same event and describe it differently. They are paying attention to different details."- Dr Bloom

Dr Bloom told the guests about the need for a new framework and how we need to turn theory into practice. The PRESENCE model is based around 'busy people', starting with an introduction and splitting the content into twenty 10 minute segments, allowing participants to learn in their own time, around an everchanging schedule.

"Organisations need to look at how power is used and abused. Those without power need to be empowered and there needs to be a confrontation of abusive behaviour."

Dr Bloom's inspiring words radiated throughout the venue, just in time for a quick break for lunch, which allowed guests to reflect on everything they had heard and discuss their thoughts on the PRESENCE model with others.

Judith Furnivall, an Independent consultant, latterly of CELCIS, gave a brief talk about the need for connections in care and explained the role of Scottish Attachment in Action, the co-hosts of the day. Judith urged attendees to look at not only their practices but that of those around them. She told of how important challenging bad practice in colleagues can be, as those acts of courage can truly change young people's lives.

"Scotland is one of the only nations that can talk about love and loving the children that they work with. Young people have told us that they want to be loved and that is truly transformational." - Judith Furnivall

Then, the guests heard from Karyn McCluskey, the CEO of Community Justice Scotland. Karyn spoke candidly and openly about personal leadership and preventative measures in trauma.

"I don't care where you are in an organisation, you can lead. Please don't wait for a leader to come, because it's you." - Karyn McCluskey

Karyn discussed the need for prevention, and how well-being and trauma impact the people in our prisons. We shouldn't be asking someone, 'What's wrong with you?", we should be asking "What happened to you?"

Karyn closed by telling the guests to "aspire to build a cathedral and not a garden shed." The atmosphere in the room was incredible, with our guests feeling informed in areas that will be bound to help in their day-to-day lives.

The conference closed with a panel hosted by Prof Sandy Cameron CBE, which brought together Dr Bloom, Karyn McCluskey, Judith and Ben Farrugia - Director of Social Work Scotland - to reflect on the day as a whole. Each panel member was invited to discuss things that they dared to believe, and a Q&A session was opened up to guests to clarify any of the points by the panellists throughout the event.

Overall, a hugely successful conference! If you'd like to learn more about The Why Not? Trust, you can do so by visiting our dedicated page here. Make sure and follow us at @thewhynottrust to see more and search #daretobelieve on Twitter to see what others thought too!