Team of the Year, Children’s Services


Family Group Conferencing Plus Team, including Lifelong Links

ORGANISATION: Devon County Council

AWARD(S): Team of the Year, Children's Services

From budget restrictions to recruitment freezes and sickness, Devon’s Family Group Conference Plus Team has had to overcome many challenges. But throughout them all, the service has consistently strived to put family at the heart of all it does.


The team’s approach is rooted in child-focused, strengths-based and restorative practice. Most of their work involves delivering Family Group Conferences (FGCs) and other restorative meetings. They are also one of the original pilot teams for the Innovation Fund project, Lifelong Links, which aims to build positive support networks for children in care.


The team have worked tirelessly to promote the inclusion of families in decisions about their children, and this has led to social workers now always considering FGC’s as part of their work, and the team’s approach being included in the council’s procedures.


What really struck the judges about this team was how they have impacted on young people’s self-esteem and their sense of identity. One young person described how the Lifelong Links work had “genuinely changed” the quality of their life, while another – who has since been offered a job within the team – said the fact that staff had seen their potential and championed them in the areas of life they struggled with was “amazing”.


The fact that this team include children and young people in discussions is great and the way they work on their self-esteem and identity is commendable. They believe children and young people to be most important impact showing how they understand the value in what they do for children.

Imogen Tutt, Age 16, Cafcass Family Justice Young People’s Board

Very impressive service that clearly has the family at the heart of their work. It is evident that the families have a voice and are part of the decision making which clearly empowers them.

Liz Hewitt, Head of Children’s Services, Skylakes

The FGC process has been a very positive experience for my family. Our coordinator worked very hard on several occasions to help bring together my support network in times of need. A support network that prior to FGC I wasn’t sure existed. I fully believe that without the FGC we wouldn’t be progressing as positively as we are in life and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone facing similar difficulties.

Feedback from a mother supported by the team

I am privileged to receive monthly feedback from both professionals and families of their positive experiences of the service. Some of the testimonies, particularly from our Life Long Links advocates, are quite simply the reason why we all want to work in this field and are testimony to the service that is offered: To make a difference for those in need.

James Tisshaw, Area Manager Early Help, Devon County Council


George O’Shaugnessy

Liz Hewitt



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