Michelle North, the newly appointed Head of Service to the CPSU, has written this article for us on what it’s been like to take over the running of the unit during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Michelle had been working as a senior consultant for the CPSU since joining the unit in 2013 but took over as Service Head in April 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and lockdown measures meant the team, like most of the nation, began working from home.
Like her predecessor, Anne Tiivas, Michelle is now responsible for both driving the team forward across England, Northern Ireland and Wales and managing relationships with the respective sports councils.
Leading the unit
“Success on being appointed to the role of Service Head is both exciting and scary in equal measures. It goes without saying that the CPSU has achieved great things over the last (nearly) twenty years and I would like to both acknowledge and thank the previous Service Head, Anne Tiivas and the work she has done steering the unit to this point.
The exciting part is looking to the future. As the world is changing, the CPSU needs to change too and we look forward to working with sports bodies over the next few months, as well as hearing from you about the successes and challenges you are facing at the moment.
Following a tough few months, I’m excited to look at how the CPSU can help address the safeguarding needs of children and young people and ensure that all children have the opportunity to be safe whilst enjoying sport.”
Leading us through a pandemic
“Taking over as Service Head at the beginning of a pandemic is not something I think anyone can prepare for.
The CPSU, like most organisations, has had to adapt quickly to working in a different way. I’m particularly proud of my team’s hard work. The development of virtual classrooms and adapting courses to fit this format, the support they have been providing to safeguarding lead officers during this time and writing and producing guidance for our website to help organisations adapt to the changing world.
We know that lockdown hasn’t been easy for all children and young people and our workforce need to be reminded of their safeguarding responsibilities, how to report concerns and how to access support. The sooner support is accessed; the better the outcomes are for those young people.
As most of the country is slowly easing out of lockdown, I think it’s important that organisations do not forget the safeguarding standards that were in place before the pandemic and ensure that these standards are not relaxed. The sector has worked hard to embed those standards and we must not lose sight of them as we return to sport and activity.”