I’m Lou – I’m the founder and MD of The Sunflower Network. Thanks for your interest in our organisation and for taking the time to find out a little more about us.
This article focuses on one of the services we provide: The Sunflower Hub. I wanted to explain the intention behind creating this resource and how we envision it will come to be used, in the hope of inviting and encouraging more individuals and organisations to be a part of it.
First of all, and just so you know, it’s FREE. Times aren’t just challenging right now, for many of us they’re crippling and the last thing anyone needs are extra charges simply for being connected – so this is a guarantee from us that this core resource is and will remain free to use and free to join forever.
But what actually is The Sunflower Hub?
Put very simply it’s an online database, accessible via our website, that can connect you up to individual practitioners & professionals working with children, young people and families in a range of disciplines, professions, areas of support and specialisms across the whole of the UK & Ireland.
And that’s not all, the Hub also includes organisations, charities, community interest companies, services, support groups and businesses that offer some useful and valuable form of support, help, specialism or provision within the field of child mental health, emotional support or general wellbeing.
The Hub brings all of this together in one resource, with the intention that it will make it so much quicker and easier to search for and find exactly the person or team that you need.
Who’s It For?
The Hub is open to be used by both professionals and the public so there’s a wide range of ways it might become valuable to you as a resource.
It can serve as a way for a member of the public to seek out support – whether that’s one to one, specialist services or groups, or just to discover more information about an issue or concern that’s come up for them or someone they know.
It can also act as a helpful directory for professionals seeking out other professionals, services or support – whether that’s for someone they’re working with or for themselves.
It can also prove useful to those working in different fields who might be looking for experts, or for contributors such as journalists, academic researchers or TV professionals.
It can also be used for recruitment and for partial referencing as our verification procedure and criteria is – for safeguarding reasons – extremely thorough (more details on this below).
How might the Hub be useful for me as a professional working with children and families?
There’s lots of ways you can use the Hub.
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, it can be used a bit like a directory of people, organisations, services, specialists, support groups and more. Professionals are often asked for recommendations in other parts of the country to where we are based and the Hub gives you a quick and easy way for you to signpost. It’s a multi-disciplinary resource so the range and extent of who you can find is pretty broad.
You may at some point want or need to refer on – whether that’s to someone working in the same profession as you or as an additional support to the work you’re doing. The Hub will help you build an entire multi-disciplinary team around a child or family if you needed to – working in isolation isn’t always the best or only way.
Networking – you might want to find out more about who’s working locally to you in either your own professional area or in your geographical location as well. You could use the Hub to build up a team of professionals to network and connect with, or to meet up with for peer supervision and professional sharing.
The Hub could help you to spark off collaborations and/or partnerships with other organisations or individuals – we might have projects we’d love to get going but need some additional help, advice or expertise to fully bring them to life. The Hub might be able to help you locate what / who you need.
You might at some point need to find a supervisor, consultant or therapist for yourself or your work – everyone’s profile pages can offer really useful and valuable information about their work and experiences which could help you to easily identify someone that matches your needs.
You might also be looking to recruit or to join an organisation or service already listed – the Hub could prove a helpful place to conduct some research and/or advance preparation.
Do I need to be in private practice to join?
No – lots of people aren’t. That’s what makes us different to the more traditional profession led directories. You can promote yourself and your work wherever you are based and whoever you work for on your profile page if you want to, but equally you don’t have to have a public profile if that doesn’t suit you right now. You will still need to meet our safeguarding criteria though – that’s a must.
How do the profile pages work?
The profile page is basically an opportunity to showcase yourself and your work – including any services you might offer, areas of research / specialisms, interest in collaborations or networking etc. If you do offer appointments and have availability you can display that as well, or you can set it to show when you don’t have availability, so people know now isn’t the right time to contact you.
The pages are completely editable by you, you can add in photos and adjust availability quickly and easily via your own private dashboard – which also shows you stats on who’s been looking at your page.
You can also choose simply not to have a profile page either ever or just right now – but it’s simple when / if you are wanting to activate it to then create it from your dashboard on the site.
Tell me more about the safeguarding criteria, and why is it a necessity?
To be honest, the reasons for having such thorough safeguarding criteria is probably pretty obvious and, we hope, welcomed. It’s vital to ensure that anyone working one to one or in any supportive capacity with children and young people are appropriately qualified for their scope of work, as well as fully insured, DBS checked, are up to date with safeguarding and child protection training, have recognised ethical guidelines they adhere to and come professionally recommended.
Everyone listed on The Sunflower Hub will have been through the same process of verification so you can feel confident when referring on or contacting others listed that not only are they are who they say they are, but they come with additional safeguarding checks and a professional recommendation.
The safeguarding criteria applies primarily to individuals who join the Hub – we apply responsibility to organisations listed for doing their own safeguarding checks of those working with them.
What if the registration process doesn’t seem to cover my route to qualification or include categories that best describe what I do?
As this is a multi-disciplinary resource, we realise that there are lots of different routes to qualifications across the different skill sets, modalities and professions. We’ve tried to cater for as many routes as possible within our registration process and also in terms of all the categories and specialisms you can select to describe your work – but it’s inevitable that we won’t have thought of everything!
So if the registration process doesn’t quite fit / accommodate your qualifying route, or there’s categories / specialisms / job titles that aren’t yet included then please get in touch with us and we can add things in or discuss an alternative way for you to complete the registration requirements.
What’s the difference between registering as an individual and registering as an organisation?
An individual membership is for independent practitioners and professionals who are joining solo, whether they work privately or as part of an organisation. The membership is just for them.
An organisational membership is for an organisation, charity, business, CIC, company, support group or service that encompasses a number of staff, team members or volunteers. The membership is to promote the work of the organisation – and as such the organisation will take responsibility for the safeguarding checks of anyone who works for or with them.
Are there any other benefits open to me once I join The Sunflower Hub?
Once you join as an individual member, you are eligible to buy our CPD Access Pass. The pass costs £100, is valid for one calendar year and buys you 12 hours of CPD from our independent events programme (excluding the Setting up in Private Practice trainings).
You can put your 12 hours towards attending any of our online events – durations are usually 3 hours, 4 hours or 6 hours – and can mix and match the trainings you pick as long as they add up to 12. If you have any spare hours left, they can be put towards a training – we work out the percentage leftover and you pay the reduced price for that workshop.
At the moment, CPD Access Passes aren’t open to organisational members but we can review that if it is something organisations might be interested in. We already offer a range of discounts for group bookings which may work out cheaper for bigger groups / teams.
Why do you want people to join The Sunflower Hub?
It’s very simple really – our intention is to build a connected community of individuals and organisations who all work with and support children, young people and families across the UK & Ireland.
This is to help practically so that both professionals and the public can quickly and easily find a range of multi-disciplinary support and expertise all in one place. It’s also to help creatively as it can serve as a vehicle for people and organisations to connect up, collaborate, network and discover more about who else is out there and the work they are doing.
And finally it’s to help supportively – a Hub filled with experience, expertise, specialisms and services that offers us all an extended Network of help and support in a myriad of ways.
I’d love you to join – feel free to email [email protected] if you have any questions or if we can assist with your registration. Lorna, Lucy and I are happy to help so do get in touch.
The Sunflower Network provides a platform for professional community members to publish articles on this website. The views expressed in this article are those of the article author.