What's our change story?

Iriss & North Ayrshire HSCP
Published in Reimagining social work practice on 12 Sep 2023

Iriss and North Ayrshire HSCP colleagues met in Irvine on the 30th August 2023 for a workshop, building on a previous session in May. The workshop was designed to support and network various pieces of improvement work happening across the HSCP and to help define this change story. 50 participants, including practitioners and managers from a range of service areas, attended the workshop. 

Remote video URL


The workshop provided some presentations to help frame the day starting with the rationale, making clear the drivers for change before moving on to what large scale change is (and isn't).

Participants then did some group work on what 'change animal' they would be and why which led to excellent artwork and a fascinating discussion! An analysis identified several 'tribes' of animals. This exercise was helpful in clarifying attitudes to change and how participants can be supported to be part of the change story. 

drawings of animals

Community Social Work 

Colin Turbett (Common Weal) presented on the values and principles underpinning Community Social Work and the questions around what it is to be a professional. Colin introduced examples of Community Social Work to illustrate the difference it makes to people’s lives. These ideas are further explored in this evidence summary: Rediscovering and mainstreaming community social work in Scotland

Values and principles in everyday practice

Through mapping a typical day in practice, participants provided insights into the activities, feelings and pressures they experience. They were able to illustrate the interplay between the principles workers value and a complex range of activities they routinely undertake. This highlighted a strong value base aligned with the foundations of Community Social Work, and how the current system constrains practice. It shows participants want to work in a different way that is better for them and for supported people but feel they have to ‘feed the system’. 

What's our North Star?

The exercise asked participants to discuss a  ‘North Star’ in their groups and then plot a course to get there, using the idea of a constellation of stars to guide the journey. 

We can use constellations to guide us

Each group came up with many different guiding indicators. These show us what participants need to support new ways of working. Analysis of the range of stars identified a number of themes: attitudes, values, approaches and supports (cultural, practical, financial) needed to navigate towards a new vision of social services in North Ayrshire. The details have been visualised in the summary report but overall, the indicators map a landscape with enough resources (time and staff) where managers, practitioners and families work together from a shared understanding and value base. Practice is grounded in professional development, reflection and strong leadership.

Change messages 

This exercise aimed to support clarity about the change story, to work together to co-create meaningful messages and think about communication with wider audiences. Participants generated many ideas about ways to get the message out using different platforms, budgets and media. Overall, participants recognised the importance of using a variety of engagement activities to reach the workforce and the community, including advertising and promotion using multi-media, merchandise, large scale events, community activities, meetings, feedback and staff surveys. 


Towards the end of the session, we asked participants to give us some feedback about the workshop using the ideas of ‘Now’ (what did you get from today?) and ‘Wow’ (what do you hope happens next?). Feedback showed the outcomes for the workshop were met. Participants appreciated the ‘headspace’ and time for reflection provided by the workshop. They felt it created a safe space for sharing information and found the session ‘fun’, ‘lively’, ‘entertaining’, ‘inspirational’, ‘motivating’ and ‘enjoyable’. They felt hopeful and optimistic about the proposed changes. 

What's next? 

It was a productive and fun day with exercises that really got under the hood of some complex issues impacting practice. We're looking forward to thinking about what's next with North Ayrshire colleagues.