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Kathryn Hinchliff is Leading Lights Programme Lead at SafeLives. Here she talks to Senior Communications Officer, Natalie Mantle about our Service Managers training and Leading Lights accreditation, and the opportunities they can open.


Hi Kathryn, can you tell us a bit about your role/your background?

Kathryn Hinchcliff

I have worked in the domestic abuse sector for 14 years now, with half of that time at SafeLives on the Leading Lights team. Before I came to SafeLives I worked as an Idva/Outreach service manager in Rotherham and have also worked in Norfolk managing a county wide Idva service. I started out in this sector as a data-monitoring worker in Norfolk, collecting and analysing information from the police, health services, housing and DA services to inform practice across Norfolk. I think this slightly geeky background has stood me in good stead for my role as Leading Lights Programme Lead. I also worked for a short time in a refuge and this experience has really helped me as we have developed leading lights to meet the needs of all specialist domestic abuse services and not just Idva.

Can you tell me about the Service Managers training course and why it’s so important?

We developed the service manager’s training for three reasons. Firstly, we found that service managers were often working in isolation. We felt this group would really benefit from some peer support, and a nationally recognised qualification to back up the important work that they do. Managers were also struggling to fully embed standards across the organisation, and finally, frontline staff attending our accredited courses were leaning new approaches and sharing resources, but were finding it hard to implement in their teams as their managers did not always understand the approach.

The course covers effective support and supervision for staff, case management best practice, the importance of good governance and improving the multi-agency response. It also looks at how services can be commissioning ready and better evidence the impact they have. Feedback from the course repeatedly emphasises the benefits of the tools and resources provided, the impact on practice and the opportunities for peer support.

What opportunities can Service Managers training open up?

The course is an essential first step to achieving Leading Lights but many managers and senior staff choose to do the training for their own professional development – to learn from their peers and review their practice.

The service manager’s training is now a nationally recognised level 4 award and the only course of its kind in the UK.  Many learners have fedback how helpful it has been for their own personal development. The course encourages and teaches reflective practice and really helps managers to critique their services and identify opportunities to improve. One of the assignments involves auditing files using the SafeLives recommended audit tool – learners have fed back during the training that this has been eye opening for them and has helped them to identify potentially concerning gaps in practice as well as helping them see the really good practice and celebrate that with their teams. One learner reflected that the course really increased their confidence in their management style and was instrumental in giving them the confidence to apply for and get a promotion. 

If anyone is thinking about taking the Service Managers course but isn’t sure, what words of wisdom would you offer them?

One of the reasons I love training on the service manager’s course is because it is so rare that service managers give themselves time for professional development and have the time to properly reflect on their practice. It is fantastic to see the changes they have implemented from block 1 to block 2 and then see how embedded these are once they are assessed for leading lights. The course is intensive and managers can struggle to see how they will fit in the assignments and for some it may be a long time since they did any formal learning. So I would say if this is something that is stopping you then please do get in touch as we can support learners in many ways to complete the course and get back into learning. Over 300 service managers have now been trained – if they can do it so can you.

Leading Lights is coming up for its 10th birthday and we now have more than 50 accredited services. How do you think it’s changed over the years? What difference do you think accreditation makes to services?

Leading Lights has developed a lot over the 10 years with a big review taking place 4 years ago to ensure the accreditation is suitable for all specialist domestic abuse services and not just Idva. We now have a flexible model that has been developed in consultation with community based services. Our 50th service to be accredited was Bedfordshire Families First - Horizon project who run group work programmes for victims of domestic abuse. They are the first such programme to receive the accreditation and it was great to see the excellent practice they have put in place to ensure their clients are supported safely. Accreditation is a great way for services to celebrate their success with the teams, it provides a quality mark that is recognised by commissioners and most importantly it improves practice at every level of an organisation so that victims of domestic abuse are getting a better, safer service.

"The course was transformative – it was the first time I had attended a management training that was geared specifically towards this sector, and as a result I took so much more away from it than any previous course I have completed. The training cemented my existing knowledge and, at the same time, introduced me to areas of strategic management and governance that hadn’t previously been as ‘on my radar’ as they could have been."

Zoe Jackson, Aurora New Dawn


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