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Special Guardianship Order Support Team, Essex County Council 

Team of the Year, Children's Services


‘From small beginnings come great things’ is the phrase that comes to mind when reading the nomination for Essex’s Special Guardianship Order (SGO) support team. Launched in 2013, the team started their journey working with just one family subject to a SGO. Now, they’ve worked with over 300 families and have grown into a multi-skilled and experienced team of 11.


At the heart of the team’s success is partnership working. They have involved special guardians in service development from day one and run regular groups across the county to provide opportunities for positive peer support. This has boosted self-esteem and reduced isolation among the client group, many of whom had little faith in social services prior to the team’s involvement.


Staff have also demonstrated empathy and professionalism when dealing with a range of complex issues including family dynamics, contact and health. They have taken these challenges in their stride and commission specialist training when necessary to enhance their skills.


As one of the first of their kind in the country, the team has been successful in developing a model that offers real benefits to their service users, providing a future blueprint for others. 


What was said about the Special Guardianship Order Support Team:

“As one of the first SGO support teams in the country it is evident that the work of this small specialist team would require constant innovation and forward thinking. With no other models to adopt, they have succeeded in developing working practices and programmes to benefit their service users.” - Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England


“This nomination was both strong and leads the way in practice developments in this area of permanency. A dedicated staff group with real zest and commitment.” - Lee Pardy-Mclaughlin, Principal Social Worker, Staffordshire County Council


“Your organisation should be very proud of the assistance you give people in the same situation as myself, it is invaluable. Thank you so much for the special guardian team.” - Special guardian


“The whole team has embraced the opportunity to develop a new and innovative service in a way that enhances our permanency work and through this they have greatly improved outcomes for looked-after children and others whose birth parents are unable to directly care for them.” - Jenny Boyd, Director of Local Delivery West, Family Operations, Essex Council



  • Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Parmjit Chahal, Harrow Council
  • Val Floy, The Children’s Society
  • Emma Lewell-Buck MP, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work
  • Lee Pardy-McLaughlin, Staffordshire County Council



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