Islington Social Work Offices

Following the Seebohm Report proposals (1968), which changed the national structure of social services from specialised teams based on children, mental health and welfare to generic social work, Islington developed Area Social Work Teams. Each area office would be providing all local authority fieldwork services to a defined geographic community.

Report of the Committee on Local Authority and Allied Personal Social Services 1968

Deacon B and Cannan C (1970) The Area Social Work Team Concept in Islington Journal of Social Administration 4:2 pp159-171 July (In collaboration with LBI Planning Department)

Previously the Children’s Department had operated from one central office and there were 7 areas each with its own senior Child Care Officer and team. This era also saw the new post of Director of Social Services in each local authority. and Social Services Committees. Hermas Rees-Jones was the first Director of Social Services who set up the structure for 10 area teams, located within their service areas (decentralised), with 8 – 14 mixed-discipline social workers in each. At this same time there was (following a Home Office report in 1970) a policy of moving children from children’s homes out of Borough to newbuilds or redeveloped homes within Islington. See ISN Report #10

Home Office: Advisory Council on Child Care.(1970) Care and treatment in a planned environment. A report on the community homes project . HMSO

LBI Advertisement for post of Director of SSD 1970
ISN Islington ward map 1975 showing locations of children’s homes within LBI: See Report 13

Area Teams in Islington from 70’s -80s

Islington Council Flat Pack 1975
Islington Gazette : February 1975 citing planning of new children’s homes

The central Social Services department was based at 17 Islington Park Street prior to 1982. The LBI Education Department was based at Bluestar House, Archway.

Archway: 129 St John’s Way N19

Copenhagen: 13-15 Copenhagen St N1

Drayton Park: 41 Witherington Road N5

Essex Road: 95-97 Shepperton Road N1

Finsbury: 121-131 Roseberry Ave EC1

Highbury: 15 Roseleigh Ave N5

Market: 431 Caledonian Road N7

Newington Green: 84 Balls Pond Road N1

Tollington: 299 Hornsey Road N19

Tufnell Park: Church Cottages Pemberton Gardens N19

Decentralisation – the shift to Neighbourhood & Community politics

In the mid 80s, Islington introduced 24 Neighbourhoods as an innovative approach to community politics and provision of local services from Neighbourhood offices including Housing, Social Services and Environmental Health needs.

The White Inquiry (1995) was critical of the Neighbourhood structure and said that it lacked managerial oversight.

White Inquiry 1995: iv

White concluded that ‘The policy of decentralisation based on Neighbourhood Offices from 1982 onwards combined with much changed personnel and equal opportunities policies, began to create an environment here the morale, management competencies and professional standards of the department declined. These problems were exacerbated by financial considerations, the way the departmental changes were imposed, the appointment of middle managers who were not qualified to manage social services practices, the poor quality of residential care management, the aftermath of lengthy industrial action and working relationships with other agencies which were not as good as they should have been.’

Goudie and Stout (2017) Joint Opinion ‘In the matter of the White Report, Islington Gazette and Sandy Marks.’

Liz Davies’s response to the Goudie report (2017) presented a different view. She said that; ‘Decentralisation was not the problem: the Neighbourhood Offices provided an excellent child and family friendly route for reporting child abuse. Social workers, housing officers and environmental health staff knew the local community in depth and were strong protectors. The White Inquiry focus on neighbourhood structure (and on equal opportunities policy) distracted from the core issue of the need to investigate allegations of and actual networks of abuse targeting children in the care system and the community

Liz Davies response to James Goudie QC and Holly Stout (Sept 2017)

‘The community are the eyes and ears for the vulnerable. Without developing some level of trust we risk getting it all wrong. Every community has its network of protective adults who can be supportive in identifying and reporting child abuse. There are always abusers but there are always protectors as well. If we do not identify the protectors we will not know how to respond to community alerts about abuse.’

Liz Davies (2016) Community Work – Protecting Children

ISN have many examples of neighbours taking in abused children and caring for them during temporary family crises or whilst waiting for Islington Social Services to protect and care for the children they had reported concerns about. On some estates children would be with different families throughout the week being fed, clothed and taken to school and nurseries.

There were many good things about the Neighbourhood Offices. Children and families could easily access them and drop by when they needed to. This certainly increased levels of reporting from the community and without the Neighbourhood structure the concerns raised by Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office social workers would not have come to light. The White Inquiry concern about lack of managerial oversight would not have been an issue if the managers had listened to frontline staff who were endlessly raising the alarm about the extent of child abuse within the institutions the department was responsible for.

Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office patch – just a few streets between Holloway Rd, Hornsey Rd and Seven Sisters Rd : a 24th of the Borough

‘Our team covered a small patch of streets between Holloway Road and Hornsey Road and it was a shop front. The office was open plan and co-located with Housing, Environmental Health services and a payment counter for receiving rents. The office was highly accessible for the children and their families and we prioritised our response to them practising a community based approach. Peter Pan park was situated behind the office and this was where children were gathered at night. We often interviewed children in Piccolo Café round the corner because there was so little interview space in the office.’

‘Davies had been working out of the Irene Watson Neighbourhood Office for several years when she and her co-workers noticed a sudden increase in the number of children visiting them. Situated in the Hornsey area of north London, a mixed area of middle-class homes and desperately poor council estates, the office was responsible for a warren of inner-city streets. The teenagers, who had clearly slept on the streets and were involved in petty crime, would be waiting for them each morning. ‘It was like a queue,’ she said. That was late in 1989. After several months, as trust between Davies and the children grew, their stories began to emerge.’

Harris P and Bright M (2003) The Whistleblower’s story: Observer 6.7.03

Neighbourhood offices 1986 – 90s

1990’s LBI magazine Rosedale named after Rosie Dale councillor was one of 24 local offices

Archway: 4 Vorley Road, N19 5JH  

Beaumont Rise: 17/23 Beaumont Rise, N19 3AX

Cally: 1 Lyon Street, N1 1DQ

Calshot: 57 Calshot Street, N19XH

Canonbury East: 68 Halliford Street, N1

Canonbury West: 30 Arran Walk, N1 2YJ

Clerkenwell: 1 Garnault Place, EC1

Clocktower: 36 North Road, N7 7DU

Drayton Park: 52d Drayton Park, N5 1NS

Durham Road: 86 Durham Road, N7 7DU

Finsbury: 85 Central Street, LC1V 1PY

Gillespie: 102 Blackstock Road, N4 2BX

Hanley: 51 Hanley Road, N4 3TH

Highbury: 60 Highbury New Park, N5 2DX

Irene Watson: 199 Hornsey Road, N19 4HB

Julie Curtin: 65 Boleyn Road, N16 8LB

Quadrant: 95a Sotheby Road, N5 2UL

Rosedale: 1 Lowther Road, London N7

St Georges: 2-4 Tufnell Park Road N19 5 YA

St Johns: 85 Holland Walk N19 3XS

St Peters: 38 Devonia Road, N1 8UY

Sobell: 50 Isledon Road N7 7LP

Tufnell Park: 243 Junction N19 5YA

Upper Street: 173 Upper Street N1 1XS

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