Enabling an Organisation-wide Cultural Shift with Together for Children

An unprecedented CSR partnership that continues to have a positive social impact on both the organisation and young people and their families in the Sunderland area.

An unprecedented CSR partnership that continues to have a positive social impact on both the organisation and young people and their families in the Sunderland area.

Highly Commended

Highly Commended Award for the Best L&D initiative in the 2023 CIPD People Management Awards 

GOLD HCM Excellence Award Winner 2023 - Leadership Development

We're delighted to partner with Together for Children to deliver a range of coaching services to support a much-needed behaviour change across their organisation.

In 2017 Sunderland Council Children’s Services received an ‘inadequate’ rating. A new organisation, Together for Children (TfC), was established in response. Its remit was to transform the quality of service provision. Outside of the council, it was free to appoint its own board, strategy, and ways of working.

But there were challenges from the outset. As one leader commented when interviewed, “looking back, it wasn’t even an organisation, just a newly formed company, with deeply fractured relationships on a number of levels… pockets of really promising and good practices and interventions… [others] doing a lot of things that weren’t adding value, to persuade everyone we knew what we were doing and things were going to be ok.”

OCM took time to get to know us, our business and shape the programme to meet our needs. The tools were engaging, and the OCM Team incredibly professional in their approach.

Angela Bremner, Service Manager for HR and Transformation

TFC logo

“I have found the use of ELECTRIC to have had an extremely positive impact on both my team and myself. I have been able to use the techniques/approach to manage a difficult situation and conflict between members of my team”

“I have witnessed carers using deep listening skills and trying to get the young people to set their own targets and goals”.


Leadership gold



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This extraordinary partnership delivered an organisation-wide cultural shift by offering executive coaching and coaching skills programmes throughout the organisation. All TfC leaders are now externally trained coaches. Probably unprecedented in UK children’s services.

Firstly, the Senior Leadership Team enjoyed a blend of Team Coaching with Individual Coaching over 2-3 months. The aim was to create:

  • a greater shared clarity of the overall destination for the organisation in terms of developing a coaching culture
  • a shared understanding of the requirements and expectations of them as leaders (and of their teams) in leading the changes required.

The next two phases focused on developing the coaching skills of the ESLT and Team Leaders. This gave leaders throughout the organisation an increased awareness of coaching’s potential to solve strategic issues at TfC, including engagement and productivity. Enabling them to use a coaching approach to improve individual and team performance and have quality performance management conversations.

The coaching skills programme was delivered through a blend of The OCM’s ELECTRIC Online programme and virtual Action Learning Workshops in small groups of 10-15 participants.

The programme was delivered in a flexible, agile way, with the right balance between online and face-to-face learning achieved to suit all learners.

The fee for a programme of this size would ordinarily be out of TfC’s budget, but The OCM agreed to partner with them on this extraordinary project for a substantially reduced rate (less than cost), making it affordable for TfC.

The way TfC operates has now become very customer-centric (family and children) whilst the culture of the organisation is very employee-centric as a result of the coaching programme. This is much better aligned with and reflective of their vision and values.

Managers are feeling how powerful it can be to listen to young people and empower them to be part of decision-making processes; they are better able to sit in groups, ask the right questions and plan targeted actions together. “There is a different sense of how we talk to each other, and to our families”.

Together for Children has reported improvements across the board with improved performance and employee satisfaction plus lower turnover and grievances.

The majority of managers felt the coaching training had a positive impact on their management approach and on how they have conversations with colleagues.

And the coaching has filtered throughout their organisation with new behaviours also positively impacting young people and their families.

Our journey with the OCM continues, which is testament to the value it has brought to our business. We continue to ensure all new managers are trained in coaching fundamentals so that staff continue to benefit from the positive principles that it brings. It transforms interaction between colleagues and lends techniques that can be used effectively with our children and their families...
…. Coaching is incredibly powerful and can change the way we operate as a Company and in doing so, directly impacts upon our ability to provide transformative services to children, young people and their families across Sunderland.

Angela Bremner, Service Manager for HR and Transformation

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