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Lord Laming delivers keynote speech at University of Suffolk conference

28 Mar 2017 4:30PM

The Rt Hon Lord Laming, who was responsible for reports on high profile cases such as the Victoria Climbie Inquiry and the report into the death of Baby P, has shared his views on at a landmark conference.

The peer spoke to an audience of over 300 University of Suffolk students and over 200 professionals working in health care, social care, education and the police at the annual “Can you hear me?” The Voice of the Service User, conference at Trinity Park.

In 2009 Lord Laming’s inquiry into the death of Baby P criticised the failings in information sharing between agencies, the poor training and support given to "overstretched" frontline staff and the red tape "hampering" social workers.

Eight years on from that report Lord Laming, who is a former social worker, spoke at the conference which encourages best practice and interprofessional working.

Lord Laming said “The event, that successfully brought together students from across all of the key services, and impressive contributions from users, was both informative and inspiring. It encouraged me greatly. It was a real credit to the University of Suffolk. I do hope others will follow the lead they have given.”

The conference involved 350 students from the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work from the University.

Olivia Stiff is in the final year of a degree in Social Work. She said “I found him fascinating. His speech was inspirational, talking about "old school social work". It puts everything in to perspective. He highlighted the need to really think about the service user, empowering and supporting them whilst understanding they are the expert in their situation, as opposed to local authority assessments being at the forefront of your mind. He has done some incredible work. It's a day I will always remember.”

Fellow student Philippa Ditcham added “It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with Lord Laming, a man with such professional expertise and influence. He was willing to offer advice and guidance to students. It was an experience I will value throughout my career in social work. Students can often feel overwhelmed when graduating into a profession which is constantly changing and full of bureaucracy, but Lord Laming heightened the real reason we have chosen these careers, to empower and support individuals at times of crisis.  The talks from the service users showed us how we could improve our own practice to support others effectively.”

Suzanna Pickering, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Suffolk said “Lord Laming spoke about the importance of using the senses when working; how we can so often hear but don’t listen, look but don’t see. He spoke about the importance of humanity and having compassion; although these are the very basics unfortunately as events have shown these qualities can be so often missed. He addressed the audience of social workers, health professionals and those in the police by saying that we need to continue to be committed in working together as we share common goals. For me the day was important demonstrating humanitarian values Lord Laming’s humility reached everyone in the room and he truly is an inspiration. His presence added to an already enriching day of talks from service users, and discussion which featured the hard hitting film from University of Suffolk honorary graduate Mat Kirkby, The Phone Call, and Louise Smith from Macmillan Cancer Support.”

Dr Ruth Strudwick, Academic Director for Radiography and Interprofessional Lead at the University of Suffolk added “Lord Laming was truly inspirational, he gave encouragement to all those working on the front line with service users, and emphasised the importance of listening to our service users (the theme of the conference).  His humility was also very evident.  The service users who told their stories to the delegates were also an inspiration and taught us all the importance of listening and providing the support that each individual needs at a time of crisis”.        

Copies of Lord Laming’s independent review of looked after children in the criminal justice system, In Care, Out of Trouble, were made available for delegates.


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476