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To mark his arrival in post as Adoption UK’s new Chief Executive, we’re reproducing part of an interview between Hugh and Erika Pennington, our Acting Press, PR & Public Affairs Manager.
It was originally published in the October issue of Adoption Today, our membership magazine.
Hugh talks about his appointment and what he wants to bring to the role.
Previously Director of Business Development and, prior to that, Strategic Director of Children’s Services for England South at Action for Children, Hugh joins Adoption UK at a time when significant changes are taking place in the adoption sector.
How do you feel about taking over the helm at Adoption UK?
I’m excited...I’m truly impressed with what Adoption UK has achieved and what it offers and I’m looking forward to leading Adoption UK through the next phase of its development.
What attracted you to the position?
I’ve spent the past 35 years working in children’s social care across a range of fields. I’ve been involved with adoption one way or another for the past 12 years and believe that it has the most significant potential to transform vulnerable children’s lives totally. The opportunity to lead a high profile adoption charity was therefore something that very much excited me at such a significant time for the development of adoption in the UK.
What is your vision for Adoption UK?
Overall, I want to see Adoption UK becoming an even more significant voice in the adoption debate and the leading provider of services that support adoptive families. How we get there is something that I want to engage the membership, staff and trustees in formulating.
How does it feel to be taking over the organisation when there is so much going in the world of adoption i.e. the current Government reforms to adoption policy?
This is one of the reasons the job was such an attractive one. I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the adoption system so that it better meets the need of children who cannot live with their birth parents, removes any unnecessary barriers and delays and takes us to the point where adoption is the outcome for all children for whom it is appropriate. In this broader agenda Adoption UK currently plays a significant role and what we offer now will be even more critical in the future. Without what we offer, the vision of more adoptions simply cannot be realised.
If the Government’s aim to recruit more adopters is fulfilled, how will Adoption UK respond to this?
Of course we will celebrate the success of a policy that we support but our focus will continue to be ensuring that the rewards and challenges of adoption are adequately recognised and understood, that adoptive families have the same benefits and rights as birth families, and that the right support is there in the right way at the right time.
An inevitable consequence of more children being adopted is that the need for support will increase and the profile of children placed for adoption will change as those children who are deemed ‘hard to place’ at the moment are found loving and supportive families. Increased use of adoption must not be at the cost of an increase in placement breakdowns.
What strengths do you bring with you to the organisation and why do you think this is important to Adoption UK?
A passionate commitment to improve the lot of highly vulnerable children, significant leadership and management experience in the public and third sectors and the ability to unite a diverse set of interests around a common aim.
How would you describe your core values?
I am passionate about the need for voluntary organisations to put the needs of the beneficiary at the forefront of all decision making. I choose to work in this sector because it is where I feel that my personal values of promoting social justice and supporting all types of families in order to bring up happy, resilient children can best be expressed and where I can make the biggest difference.
What do you feel are Adoption UK’s strengths?
A unique place in the adoption field, the strength of its membership, a clear purpose and a highly dedicated staff team.
How would you describe Adoption UK to someone who did not know the organisation existed? How would you describe its importance to adoptive families?
The charity that best understands the needs of adoptive families and is best placed to ensure that those needs are met – and I am really looking forward to hearing from the membership what Adoption UK means to them.
If you’re a member of Adoption UK, you can read the complete interview and find out more about Hugh in Adoption Today - back issues are available online in the Members' Area of our site.