The evolution of Sandstories began when Sue learnt the art of ‘sacred’ story telling for young children, using a method called “Godly Play”.

Sue witnessed the way in which both children and adults could engage with often familiar stories in very personal and new ways.

From this grew the idea that story telling, in the context of child protection, might provide a route to understanding familiar ‘stories’ with fresh insight.

“I feel like I’ve just had a rehab day as a social worker and have been reminded of the significance of the job I do. I’ve come away with a lot to think about, a thirst to look into more research and find out more and a great deal of respect for Sue. I feel very lucky to have been at this training. Thank you!” 

The stories told through Sandstories have been inspired by the lives of real children.

The original Sandstory is a compilation of many families with whom Sue has worked over the years and also incorporates the key messages from Serious Case Reviews of the last 20 years. Such is the familiarity of the themes played out in this visual presentation.

This was later followed by the creation of a second Sandstory, inspired specifically by a group of baby boys with whom Sue came into contact, after their deaths. In each case the cause of death was described as ‘unascertained’. However, Sue was drawn to a hypothesis that for some infants, life is so frightening and bleak that they may ‘lose the will to live’.

This story therefore explores the impact of fear and stress on infant resilience and survival.

This includes the significance of attachment theory, neurological development and the immune system.

Sandstories presentations are constantly evolving, using additional styles of storytelling and reflection, to strengthen the resilience of the workforce and to equip them with a memorable and sustainable learning experience.

The premise behind all of the Sandstories presentations is that only when we are armed with the most crucial knowledge base, informed by research and a large dose of ‘professional wisdom’, are we properly equipped to protect the most vulnerable children.

The challenges facing strategic managers and policy makers, as they seek to create a child centred safeguarding system, are captured in a further Sandstory. This explores the values and principles underlying decision making at a senior level, in the context of the wider policy and political landscape. It also acknowledges the crucial relationship between strategic leaders and those on the frontline. This particular Sandstories presentation has been welcomed by members of Safeguarding Children Partnerships and CCG Boards.

“Training I will never forget as a worker & human being.” 

Home-school liaison worker