I always enjoy visiting Brook services and seeing our work in action, but the intensity of running 12 workshops and seeing almost a quarter of the staff team in 2 weeks has left me particularly inspired. Inspired because I have seen and felt the energy, the passion and the talent of teams working directly with young people on an almost daily basis.
A few of the things I have really valued are;
- Trust in young people: the dedication, trust and commitment to ALL young people's rights is palpable within Brook - from the way people talk, to the breadth and depth of interventions we provide, to the posters on the wall. Increasingly it is important to recognise that as a country we do not always walk the talk on children and young people's rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but it is evident that at Brook we really do believe in those rights and day in, day out help ALL young people to understand and claim their rights including their sexual rights.
- Young people's involvement: the increase in the level of diverse young people being involved in our decisions, influencing, campaigning and delivery of education and services.
- Increasing integration in different ways: increasingly Brook teams are working across our clinical services, our education and one to one support to ensure that young people get all the support they need. Professionals from different backgrounds each contributing their skills and learning from each other as well as integrating with other agencies and bodies in the local communities ensuring we have effective partnerships to facilitate referrals and support.
- Adopting a holistic approach: Brook has always adopted a holistic approach to working with young people recognising that a number of issues impact on people's self esteem and confidence, both of which lie at the heart of good relationships and autonomy and choice about sex. Increasingly it is clear that Brook is wider aspects of young people's health and well being, such as including alcohol in our education work and brief interventions in clinical work; addressing body image, consent, violence and emotional well being into all our work with young people.
- Creativity: there are ever more creative ways being developed, working in partnership with young people and professionals to empower, protect and inspire young people, and to reach and work with different groups of young people in ways that are acceptable to them and their experiences, and to help them have high expectations for their health, their well being and their relationships. There are also a myriad of ideas and emerging new ways of working that have potential to make a real difference to young people's lives.
- Influencing opinion: there is a renewed enthusiasm for getting involved in, and helping young people get involved in influencing opinion, policy and services in the context of localism.
- Feeling part of One Brook: one of our goals of merging was to facilitate sharing and learning across the organisation and a lot of teams have said they are enjoying working with different colleagues and widening perspectives.
- Knowing what we are doing: next year is Brook's 50th birthday and it is really clear that we have 49 years experience, and 49 years of learning what works. As one person said, 'Brook has evolved with young people and keep doing things differently to get it right'.
Most of all, as always, it is the passion, grit and determination to make a difference to the lives of each and every single young person who comes to us that makes me proud to be CEO of Brook. I look forward to meeting more staff, learning more and continuing the dialogue over the weeks ahead.