Co-designing support

How we are harnessing workforce expertise to improve the experiences of black and ethnic minority families
Published in Working with African families on 29 Aug 2023

At Iriss, we’ve been partnered with Passion4Fusion for nearly six months, working on the creation of a toolkit to equip the social care workforce with the understanding they need to best support black and ethnic minority families. Working with predominantly African diaspora in Edinburgh and the Lothians, this is an area that P4F know inside and out. They see the challenges for families when their relationships with social workers are poor; but crucially, they see the potential for getting these interactions right, and the positive impact this will have for children, their families and wider communities. 

We worked with P4F on their events that took a deeper dive into these interactions, presenting their research on how families are impacted by negative experiences with social workers; and when children are taken into the care system. We had the opportunity to hear first thoughts from social workers about a toolkit, and how it might help them in their practise. 

Our toolkit design session last week was the first opportunity we had to give social workers time and space to discuss and discover what is going to work for them in a toolkit; what kind of resources they imagine; what kind of conversations they want to have. 

This topic is deep and wide ranging, covering reflective practice, anti-racist (social) work, cultural competency and more. So, approaching the session, we wanted to make sure that we ended the day with practical ideas, solutions - even prototypes! - for the toolkit. Combining a range of creative, design based activities with participants who were generous with their time, ideas and passion for the topic, we were able to achieve exactly that. Think post it’s, shiny stickers, glue sticks, scissors and lots of discussion. By 1pm, participants had created a range of resources that might form an overall toolkit. From sketches, to almost complete ideas, we have a rich collection of possible resources, all informed by people who will be using them. 

workshop participants discuss the development of a tool

The creation of the toolkit is grounded in and propelled by Passion4Fusion’s research and expertise from their day-to-day work. At Iriss, we have the time to work with our partners and understand this day-to-day, as well as the wider context our partners are in. We have the time to work together, and build a good working relationship. So, now that the time has come for Iriss input to drive the project, we have breadth and depth in our understanding of the issue that Passion4Fusion hope to tackle with a workforce toolkit. In creating the toolkit, we are bringing together the respective expertise of our organisations, and including the voice of the workforce who we hope will use this resource. 

We began the toolkit design session with an understanding of the change we hoped to make. Thanks to those that participated, we closed the toolkit design session with practical, creative, compassionate ideas of how to make that change. We’re getting the coloured pens out - watch this space!