The PSTA is launching a new Contract Management programme this Autumn

The Public Service Transformation Academy is launching a new programme on contract management for public service professionals. Learn more by following the link below:

12-16 September, Freethinkers: Unleashing the Spirit of Transformation

Have you ever tried to navigate the rough seas of organizational transformation? Then you know that the wisdom of practice often beats the best theory and good intentions!

Therefore, Good Organisations are very excited to announce a unique series of global conversations with experienced and passionate freethinkers and crafts(wo)men of organizational change: During the week of 12-16th September we will feature interactive and inspiration-packed conversations.

Benjamin Taylor, of RedQuadrant and the PSTA, will be a speaker on Thursday 15th, speaking about ‘Transforming the Organisational System’ with Joan Lurie (Orgonomix) and Sonja Blignaut (More Beyond).

Other speakers include Gertje van Roessel (Buurtzorg), Emanuele Quintarelli (Boundaryless), James Priest (Sociocracy 3.0), Michele Zanini (Humanocracy), Rachel Murch (The Maonach Group), Ted Rau (Sociocracy for All), Joan Lurie (Orgonomix), Sonja Blignaut (More Beyond), Tim Mooney (The Maonach Group), Timm Urschinger (LIVEsciences), John Knights (LeaderShape), JB Dernoncourt (Copap Inc), Heidi Gutekunst (Amara), Richard Claydon (EQ Lab), Lionel Yang (Business Philosopher), Lara Bezerra (Work Coherence), Donna Okell (UK for Good), Michael Smith (Impact Bridge), Daniela Landherr (Google/Human Space), Laura Mueller (Goetterfunken), Justin Hughes (Mission Excellence) – and more fantastic speakers will be announced daily!

If you have been looking for an opportunity to engage, talk and compare notes with seasoned professionals, colleagues and friends from all around the globe – about what it really (really, really) means to successfully enable organizational transformation and spark the human spirit for a better society and planet…


For more information, follow these links:

– YouTube event teaser –

– Medium publication – workplace-elevate-e4247e30c069

– LinkedIn event –

– Information on the official Good Organisations website –

Making Partnerships Work

By Emma Harewood. For more, follow this link to her LinkedIn post on Beyond Therapy.

On 19th May Bluestar hosted ‘Beyond Therapy’, the first ever festival of activism for child sexual abuse in Bristol dedicated to re-imagining our society’s response to child sexual abuse through research, creativity and connection. Emma Harewood hosted a panel with experts from The Lighthouse, Bristol SARC, NHS England commissioner and Claire Bethel of RedQuadrant, to talk about ‘Shaping the system around children and families – encouraging professionals to work in partnership to create whole system change.’

What does it mean to work in a true partnership?

The Lighthouse team explained it takes more than just co-location, although that certainly enables sharing of knowledge and expertise across agencies. Creating an understanding of each other roles, culture and priorities means you can influence others to keep the child central. They described working with police to slow down the process at the start of investigation so the child feels in control. As well as providing expert consultation to support social workers and teachers in the community, allowing the service to reach a wider group of children and embed good practice. And understanding the restorative value of the doctor’s examination.

Partnerships take time to create, and the team advised others to invest enough time in developing agreed ways of working before they open the door to children.  They encouraged commissioners and policy makers to ensure there are enough sessions provided to create safe spaces for children to share and for supporting parents with the skills to be there for their child.

What are the benefits for children and young people when we work in a partnership?

The young people said they really valued all services being under one roof and the holistic service.  Their persuasive voices gave support to recommission the full service offer after the pilot and convinced the judiciary to allow pre-record cross examinations in the Lighthouse. 

We heard how the children felt welcome and ‘almost loved’ at the Lighthouse, only having to tell their story once in a safe place. They had choice and control over who they talked to and when.  For the first time, the professionals had been organised around them, rather than the child fitting in with the professional’s ways of working. Young people in Bristol, Jersey and London have all said that being able to access something as simple as a sexual health follow-up in the safe place they first met the doctor after sexual abuse, is better than travelling to an adult focused GUM clinic where they felt judged. The Bridge in Bristol are looking for young people’s voices to amplify the need for this partnership service in their local SARC right now. Other young people in the AYPH study, remind us how important holistic support is to help re-establish friendships, school and family life.

Why is it so hard to achieve partnership working?

Ultimately the financial resources needed to create joined up partnership services are considerable and seen by some as gold standard. As well as the time it takes to really invest in the relationships and understanding needed to create true partnership. Add into the mix the logistical nightmare of all partners, commissioners and policy makers aligning their shared vision and commitment at the same time as contracts end! And finally, the need for sacrifices to be made in organisational culture and ‘the way we do things round here’ to find a middle way.

Creating new partnership and whole system change need passionate, relentless and creative leaders – but the difference the change can make to children, families and adult survivors is priceless.  The external Lighthouse evaluation and final annual report have shown that investing in holistic, long-term support in a multi-agency partnership improves the experience and outcomes for children and families.  With less victim withdrawals and more cases making it as far as the CPS, the Lighthouse partnership is starting to turn the tide towards a more child friendly experience of the justice system against the backdrop of a shocking all-time low in the conviction rates in the UK for child sexual abuse.

You can read more about the Lighthouse and setting up your own version of a Child House model partnership in the Child House Toolkit and the Home Office Child House Partnership Guidance.

With thanks to the panel members:

Emma Harewood (chair) – Co-founder of the Lighthouse – the first UK Barnahus for children that experience sexual abuse, the Child House model and CSA hub model.

Marian Moore, NSPCC service manager at the Lighthouse

Eimear Timmons, Practice Development Manager at the Lighthouse

 Dr Michelle Cutland, Clinical Director at The Bridge and CSA Centre for Expertise

Claire Bethel, RedQuadrant.  Policy expert in sexual violence and author of Child House Toolkit

Becks Marsh – NHS England Commissioner in the South West

SAVVI – a system approach to identifying vulnerability

I recently found out about SAVVI, which stands for “a Scalable Approach to Vulnerability via Interoperability”. SAVVI, led by Tameside Council and sponsored by GMCA, aims to use data to find vulnerable people. The project is developing a catalogue of datasets, their sources and the basis on which they can be used by organisations delivering public services to identify individuals or households with particular vulnerabilities, such as for the purpose of homelessness prevention. 

Having worked with local authority and publicly available secondary data for some time, often building specific analytical tools to spec, I saw the potential straight away of SAVVI to transform how organisations delivering public services use their and others’ data to improve the work they do and outcomes for the vulnerable people identified. 

Vulnerability often looks different from different parts of the system, and it can be difficult to fully identify vulnerability and people’s needs from within a single service so my hope is that SAVVI brings different perspectives across the system of public services together in the form of powerful datasets that can be used to identify, and then support, those whose needs are currently invisible. 

You can find out more about SAVVI here:

and watch video presentations about the project here: 

Using secondary data to identify vulnerability and support needs isn’t a new idea. In 2018/19, when I was interim Business Intelligence and Performance Manager for the soon to be Somerset West and Taunton Council, I initiated a project to develop a dataset using council tax, police, and DWP data that would enable the council to better identify or even predict households for which earlier support could help to prevent council tax payment defaults. 

The principle being applied was that support that meets citizens’ underlying needs is always going to be cheaper than enforcement action after things have gone wrong and will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for all involved. The aim of the business intelligence work, under whose umbrella the project sat, was to develop a single dataset for all council held data in a GIS, which is a database for geographic data, so that any form of geographical analysis could be conducted as required. 

I was fortunate to have a very skilled team but only saw the very start of the project while I was there so it’s great to see SAVVI being developed as this could open up the power of data that is already available, to address challenging population issues across the system. 

If you’re interested in the power of geographic data, you might also want to have a look at HMG’s Geospatial Strategy:

your help needed – Supporting Adult Social Care Commissioners – Strategic Commissioning Options Appraisal

Working on behalf of the LGA, the Public Service Transformation Academy and RedQuadrant are developing materials to provide a useful (free!) tool to support adult social care commissioners in their strategic thinking.

We need your help! We are seeking input from relevant experts across the sector. If you have thoughts about adult social care commissioning, please give us your details here or contact, or on 07887 442487, or or 07931317230.

We aim to do two key things:

1) Support commissioner to go through a clear process to obtain relevant information to help them understand the landscape – their current situation and key goals

2) Use this data and understanding to select the right commissioning approach for their situation and goals (place-based, outcome-based etc) taking everything into account

We want to learn from all the previous work in this space to produce something really valuable for commissioners and all the stakeholders affected by commissioning. This will be freely available for the whole of local government to use (and to anyone else who finds it useful).

How to engage:
Complete our questionnaire to provide information and ideas, or put yourself forward for a one-to-one interview, focus group, or a deep dive into a council’s commissioning approach

• Join our fortnightly open working sessions, starting on Wednesday 9 February, 2-3:30pm

We welcome input from all commissioning stakeholders – as well as adult social care commissioners and others directly involved, we’re looking for input from suppliers, care users and representatives, partner organisations, local authority finance directors and chief executives, health organisations and others with a perspective.

Please direct any questions, queries, or other comments to 07887 442487 07931317230

(As we are using various means to get this out there as widely as possible, you might see this message more than once – apologies if so!)

Find out more about the Public Service Transformation Academy and our work.
your community needs you

Taking a step back before the next big leap in digital transformation

Dr Gerald Power is RedQuadrant’s director of customer-led transformation and service lead for digital change and digital delivery.

The last two years has been ‘challenging’ to say the least for public sector delivery organisations as they have had to cope with the direct and indirect impact of covid. In many ways covid greatly accelerated change that was overdue and we are seeing step-changes in how service delivery is done and realising very tangible benefits from this. However, those with an interest in change and may also recognise a need to pause and reflect and three areas stand out as in particular need of attention before the next push forward:

i) Ensuring all your internal stakeholders are engaging in solution development. The last two years will have seen some major leaps forward in using cloud storage, Software As a Solution (SAS), use of AI, virtual working and online self-service. However, not all stakeholders will have kept up with this. Those on the ‘front line’ coping with crisis after crisis may not understand the nature of the new technologies being used. There is a need to help them ‘catch up’ and give them space to engage in discussions on how to best exploit it rather than imposing solutions on them.

ii) Thinking in terms of Enterprise Architecture (EA). Using cloud technologies and SAS solutions have many big advantages, but they also create challenges technically and commercially. EA is no longer something that the senior team can ignore or delegate; they have to develop sufficient understanding to establish EA’s that are resilient and effective.

iii) Challenging ways of working and job roles. The sea-change in technology and ways of working should fundamentally change job roles and how performance is monitored. But, this requires transformative change and needs effort and leadership.

In response to the call to reflect there will be the inevitable ‘so what question’, why spend time on analysis and reflection when the technology clearly works and we desperately need efficiency. In response, I would remind readers of NASA and their ‘faster, cheaper, better’ approach.

In the 1990s NASA pioneered an aggressively optimistic approach to programme management which was summarised as ‘faster, cheaper, better’. Initially, it worked very well and the space programme leapt forward rapidly. However, early success was followed by several major disasters including the loss of two space shuttles with their crews. The ‘faster, cheaper, better’ phase was later amended with many programme managers adding ‘pick any two’ to it. While it may not be entirely true that you can’t have all three the NASA experience highlights how important it is to reflect and test when transformative change is happening rapidly and ‘faster, cheaper, better’ might be too good to be true.

RedQuadrant qualifies for a record 17 lots on cross-public service framework contract

Launching today, the new iteration of the ESPO Consultancy Services Framework. Run by the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation on behalf of all UK public services (and accessible to charities and other bodies too), we are proud to have been on this framework for ten years. This is a record year for us, though, as we have qualified for all the lots for which we bid – 17 in total:

We received first or second placing amongst bidders for:

  • Revenues and Benefits
  • Public Health
  • General Finance
  • Social Care (Children)
  • Strategic IT
  • Housing and Housing Support
  • Strategic Projects
  • Community Research and Engagement

And top five placing for:

  • Business Services
  • Social Care (Adults)
  • Regeneration and Regional Development
  • Marketing, Communications and PR
  • Leisure, Culture and Tourism (including Library Services)

We also qualified with high scores for:

  • Procurement
  • Highways, Traffic and Transport
  • Environmental and Sustainability
  • Waste and Recycling

The framework is now live and runs for a period of two years.

RedQuadrant Head of Consulting, Frank Curran, said:

It’s a huge vote of confidence from the sector in our unique expertise and experience. It is wonderful to get this recognition and to be able to continue to provide excellent value through fixed-price consultancy, change support, and capability building.

To procure RedQuadrant through compliant direct award or mini-competition, go to:

Long live commissioning! But what shall we call it?

What do you call an approach that moves #publicservices


  • ‘spending money on services to meet needs’


  • ‘intervening and learning in the complex systems that actually shape our lives’?
latest piece in the Municipal Journal

The former sees ‘services’ as the whole universe, brought into being by our public service cash.

The latter sees that people are busy living their lives and that funding is just part of the influence we can have on citizen and community outcomes.

The word we’re stuck with, like it or not, is #commissioning.

It’s been five months since I last wrote ‘it ain’t dead!’ (I checked). And I have to keep saying it.

Yet because commissioning covers that (still vital) process of deciding which services (in-house, outsourced, third sector) are funded and which are not, it still gets bracketed with procurement, outsourcing, and contract management.

It’s much more than that, and since 2011 we’ve been working to show how it much more deserves to be part of #systemschange #systemsleadership and what’s now called #humanlearningsystems

My latest piece in the Municipal Journal is at

How would you try to get this message across? What would you call it?

See also

Our core positioning piece: ‘commissioning is an approach to transformation’

Can commissioning truly start from the assets and capabilities of citizens and communities? As we inch towards the post-Covid era, what opportunities and risks are opened up by the massive release of citizen and community assets during the pandemic?

Commissioning is dead, long live commissioning

Something new has been named – #systemsconvening


Register for the launch webinar on 2 September:

Download the book and join the community:

Child exploitation is everyone’s business – contextual safeguarding can help.

By Claire Bethel

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) had a high profile following the public outcry which ensued from the widespread abuse in places such as Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford. This led to significant changes on the back of Professor Alexis Jay’s report into the handling of CSE in Rotherham in 2014.  Her report brought to light the previously unknown scale of the problem, estimating that at least 1,400 children in Rotherham experienced CSE over a number of years, largely ignored by those responsible for their care and protection. The response – alongside the work of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, also chaired by Alexis Jay – has included a far greater focus on CSE. Whereas previously, child sexual abuse was viewed as largely a familial problem, the exploitation of children by perpetrators outside the family including groups and gangs, as well as by their peers, has commanded far wider recognition. 

One of the ways in which the traditional approach to children’s safeguarding has changed has been the move towards contextual safeguarding, bringing recognition of the increasing complexity of this landscape. Contextual safeguarding takes account of the fact that, as young people develop, they are influenced by a range of environments and people outside their family including their peers and their online lives. Many local authorities now have complex safeguarding teams which recognise the risks posed by influences outside the home environment. A great deal of resources are consumed by children and young people who go missing, often repeatedly, with much police and children’s social care activity focused on finding and returning them. One benefit of the changing approach and culture is a reduction in the level of victim-blaming and punitive nature of the responses previously associated with CSE. Services – not least the police – are becoming more trauma-informed, trained to recognise the wider context of a young person’s life, the underlying causes of their actions (including Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the opportunities for recovery. 

Increasingly, CSE is seen in the wider context of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) with the pervasive risks posed by county lines now seen as a major component of serious crime, involving sometimes quite young children in criminality, more often than not linked to drugs and trafficking. CSE of the type seen in Rotherham and Rochdale seems to be less prevalent given the increased surveillance, with other forms of extra-familial abuse, including peer-on-peer abuse, online abuse and other forms of harmful sexual behaviour, more widely identified.  

The implementation of contextual safeguarding, pioneered by Dr Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedford[1], includes working both at the level of the individual child or young person using techniques such as peer group mapping to look at their contacts and influences, and at the level of the community. Multi-agency safeguarding groups work collaboratively with the local community, including businesses such as hotels and taxi firms – indeed any organisation that comes into contact with children or young people – to establish the potential danger points in the community and to come up with responses collectively. Improving the lighting in the local playground where young people hang out at night or putting CCTV in place in the stairwell in the block of flats where young people are at risk from gangs illustrate what can be done.

Whole-school approaches and peer group work can be particularly helpful in addressing problems in school-aged children with the potential for bystander interventions to address peer-generated abuse and issues such as inappropriate image sharing. Safeguarding is, rightly, seen as everybody’s business rather than a familial problem confined to the home. Parents – frequently seen in the past as the cause of the problem – are increasingly seen as key to the solution and as partners in the team around the child or young person, representing a seismic cultural shift for social workers.  

Some of our work in this area has included working with voluntary sector organisations and local authorities to help them understand the changing nature of the problem and to look at what steps need to be taken to deliver contextual safeguarding and address the growing problem of child criminal exploitation. This presents several challenges: not least, challenges for the workforce to understand the implications for professional practice and the overriding need to work collaboratively with other agencies, and the practical challenges of adapting council information systems geared towards meeting the needs of individual children or young people at risk of harm.

Children and young people affected by exploitation need holistic, flexible, child-centred, trauma-informed, non-stigmatising services delivered by practitioners who can provide a consistent response as and when – and where –  the young person is ready to receive it. We also need to ensure that we don’t focus so much on child criminal exploitation that we downplay the needs of children and young people who have experienced child sexual abuse or exploitation, including online abuse, who continue to require specialist interventions by skilled practitioners.

If you would like to know more about how RedQuadrant could help you to deliver contextual safeguarding in your area, contact

Claire Bethel