New Chair of Trustees - Optimistic and full of energy
"I want a thread of connectivity to run through St Michael's."
Loucia Kyprianou is our new Chair of trustees. She first became aware of the work we did at St Michael's when she worked as a Child Protection Lawyer. It was one of the family assessment centres she’d approached to carry out parenting assessments.
Later she took a different career path and now works for a professional regulator in the health and social care sector. Loucia was keen to continue to use her expertise in child protection at a time that St Michael’s was looking for Board members with these skills. In 2018, she joined the board. "The values of St Michael's and the work they do really spoke to my own values of ensuring families are supported to have the best resources and tools to help them parent together, if possible, while keeping the welfare of the child at the centre. So, the stars were aligned."
"I'd really got to know St Michael’s as a Trustee. I had also grown to know fellow Board members who are a group of highly talented individuals, all committed and dedicated to the work of St Michael’s.
Stepping into the role, I was confident that collectively, we had the skills and experience to drive the organisation forward. I feel privileged to have been appointed to this role and am grateful for the support of my fellow Board members. It’s a challenging time for St Michael’s, and indeed every organisation at the moment, due to the global pandemic but I know we’re all committed to the best interests of St Michael’s and its staff.”
Sadly, we are losing our longstanding and deeply committed deputy director. We have had to close one of our Family Residential Assessment Centres, which led to one staff redundancy. Covid has impacted our sector like many others. But Loucia is full of energy and optimistic.
"There is lots of exciting work ahead. We had already started some of that work during the time I was a Trustee, and I am excited to be the Chair who will get to see that work through."
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
The Board have made some clear commitments which Loucia feels passionate about.
"One of the key areas I am focusing on is equality, diversity and inclusion. As a Board, we have committed to that as a priority. We have acknowledged that although there is some great work within the organisation, there is more that could be done.
I would like to see us build on our strengths. Lots of people comment that St Michael’s is like a family. If you go onto the website, there’s feedback saying we weren't like other contact centres, which can feel quite stark. Our stakeholders feel that sense of commitment we bring. I want to make sure that the staff themselves feel it too. What we are delivering outwardly, we also need to be showing each other as colleagues. Cohesion is crucial because we do a lot for a small organisation and we want everyone to be able to bring their best and true self to work each day.
There are different arms to the organisation which are physically separated and I want to make sure we have a thread of connectivity that runs all the way through so that colleagues feel connected as one big family!”
In Loucia’s ‘day job’, she is aware of the wealth of research around the impact of workplace culture on service performance, quality, safety and improvement. She’s passionate about ensuring that St Michael’s builds on its own workplace culture too:
"Creating a positive workplace culture, where our staff feel valued and supported and most of all where the organisation and the individuals within it all treat each other with kindness is really important. If I were to do a staff survey in a year's time, I would like it to come back and reflect that.
I want people to feel able to speak up if they don't think something is right. I want people to be able to say, 'I have made a mistake’, go and talk to a colleague and get support. It’s important that staff are continuously learning and improving without fear of being blamed if something goes wrong.
It's also about encouraging people to say if someone has done something that is not right. For example, if a parent says something inappropriate to a staff member, we would want staff to feel they can raise it and to know that they would be supported. Whatever the concern raised, staff should feel confident that it will be taken seriously and dealt with, in line with the organisation’s policies and procedures.
So you can say to someone 'The way you spoke to me didn't feel good, upset me or offended me.' We can learn lots of things from other settings, which will enhance the way we work as an organisation and build on the brilliant work we already do.”
Know Each Other Better
When Loucia started as Chair, to be immediately visible she visited all the houses and attended virtual meetings.
"I wanted to introduce myself as the new Chair, meet the staff and see for myself the work being done. It is important that we all understand our respective roles and know each other better.
Knowledge is power. I want everyone to feel confident that they know the work of the Board and for staff to be both encouraged and empowered to put forward their views, so that we are hearing from all staff.
We welcome the connection we have with the Executive and the management teams who all come to the Board and present to us. But what we want to make sure is that we are hearing individual voices. If that means doing things slightly differently so that we are finding new ways to connect with staff, then I think that is what we need to do.
One of the things I have been delighted to see introduced is the new staff newsletter. I hope we will be able to use it as a way to make us all feel more connected as one organisation.”
Proud of Staff
Loucia is exceptionally proud of all the teams at St Michael's, especially over the Covid pandemic.
"The lengths people have gone to continue to provide a service, to be responsive and adaptive and to put the best interests of their client group first have been incredible. I think it's important that staff know that this doesn't go unnoticed by the Board. We are proud of St Michael's work, and we want staff to feel that sense of pride.”