About Sandstories

Sandstories embeds child-centred practice into the heart of child safeguarding.

Sandstories is a powerful and extraordinary training model, which shares messages from research, lessons from case reviews, and practice wisdom gathered by Sue Woolmore throughout her 35 years in child protection services.

What sets Sandstories apart from more conventional training is that it harnesses the stories of real children through experiential, visual presentations using a wide range of creative visual aids.

The child safeguarding workforce needs resilience, courage, and stamina

The Sandstories approach

There is no PowerPoint. And some participants may be grateful to know that there is no role-play either.

Sandstories combines sensitive storytelling with time to reflect, creating space in which participants can discover new insights into the familiar dilemmas and challenges they face when working with ‘resistant’ or neglectful families.

This approach to training enables practitioners to understand the children’s lived experience and the need to place the child at the centre of everything they do. This emphasis is consistently described by participants as a welcome relief from targets and procedurally driven frameworks. Sandstories resonates very deeply with what initially drew practitioners into their role.

Who is the training for?

Sandstories is ideal for anyone working on the frontline with children/young people and families, or are involved in the supervision and support of those who do. The course is of equal value to both statutory and voluntary sector practitioners, including:

  • Children’s social care practitioners
  • Police officers
  • Health professionals from clinical and community settings
  • School staff
  • Probation staff
  • Family support workers
  • Housing officers
  • Domestic abuse/recovery practitioners
  • Youth services
  • Mental health services

Child-centred practice

The relationship between the practitioner and the child’s parent/carer is hugely significant. Sandstories illustrates how this crucial dynamic needs to be guided by compassionate, authoritative practice which never loses sight of the child – however complex and compelling are the needs of the adults. 

Messages from trauma-informed practice are also woven through the content of the training.

Sandstories recognises that skilled, thoughtful safeguarding practice requires considerably more than policies, procedures, and strategies. The child safeguarding workforce needs resilience, courage and stamina. Sandstories training is a meaningful and lasting investment in this. 

The impact of reduced resources, increased workloads, stringent thresholds, and Covid restrictions can lead to stress-related illness, burnout and moral injury.

Sandstories training is not afraid to acknowledge and wrestle with this, in order to encourage and affirm practitioners in their often heroic efforts to maintain child-centred practice.