In developing the Roots to Growth practice framework; research, evidence, literature and the feedback from insight shared by our Care Visions colleagues were all considered. We also took account of what our young people have told us is most important to them, The 
Why Not? Trust’s ‘Rights to Relationships Charter along with the commitments made through ‘The Promise’ report of the Independent Care Review. Through this work the Roots to Growth practice framework has been developed, the broad aims of this are:

  • To build on the learning from our collective experiences, to reframe and reinvigorate our organisational purpose and professional identity towards what our young people have told us most matters to them.
  • To Strengthen our commitment to nurturing a trauma informed and responsive culture of care
  • To recognise and consolidate our belief that relationships are the primary medium for enabling wellbeing, growth and happiness and articulate this through the care we offer young people
  • To ensure what we do is reflected in the quality of experiences, relationships and memories of the young people we care for now, and in the future, focusing on their strengths and aspirations

The Roots


Our relational wellbeing and intelligence, the health of our relationships and the ability we have to form and sustain these is largely informed by our childhood experiences, through the attachment relationships we develop with primary caregivers. Consistent, responsive and reliable experiences of being cared for create safety through which we can begin to explore our world. As we develop, this world expands while attachment anchors continue to provide safety and security. Our dependence on these relationships gradually reduces as we mature, while their effect endows us with an enduring stability, through our experiences of being nurtured, valued, trusted, and believed in, inducing a sense of belonging. We internalise and assimilate these experiences and they enable us to expand our connections and horizons so as we can lead a meaningful, purposeful and flourishing life.

Sense of Self

A strong relationship exists between identity and resilience, a coherent sense of self and our ability to cope with the rigours of daily life. When one of these exists, the other is more likely to be present. A host of other factors, including strong trusting relationships, feeling valued, feeling loved and lovable, having a sense of agency and hope are known to be associated with resilience. The extent to which we are resilient, able to cope with adverse or distressing experiences, is dependent on the circumstances, our individual characteristics and our perception of events and issues that challenge us. Our individual and collective resilience can be enhanced through day-to-day interactions and experiences that support a positive sense of personal and professional identity, through our shared organisational mission. 

It is often helpful for us to have a clear sense of our personal and family history that has influenced how we see ourselves in relation to others and the world around us.  A positive sense of self is also associated with a strong ‘internal locus of control’. This involves our experiencing and coming to believe that we can take responsibility for own lives and are able to influence our circumstances even in difficult or distressing situations, while being able to make accurate attributions for things that happen that are outwith our control.


We need to experience a sense of competence through work we do regardless of the role. While many of us have different roles, with a variety of technical proficiencies attached to these roles, we are bound together in a human services organisation with a shared mission, interrelated and interdependent. It is therefore imperative that we give deference to social, relational and emotional competencies. From the perspective of the Sanctuary Model, our organisation is an organic, living system, dynamic and ever evolving in response to internal and external stimuli. In such an environment technical and practical skills are not sufficient in helping us meet the challenge of pursuing our mission. Working in such an environment requires emotional intelligence, self and social awareness and regulation, and the ability to offer support through contained and containing engagements with others. Within the framework there is a particular emphasis on creating positive experiences to support the development of social and emotional competence through sincere relationships with responsible and responsive people for our young people and the professional community. The professional competencies encouraged, supported and enabled through the framework extends beyond technical, practical and administrative skills, to how we approach our work, as well as how we fulfil the responsibilities of our roles.

Hope, Happiness and a Sense of Future

We all enter the helping professions believing that we can contribute to a more just world. The motivation to make a difference is drawn from deep within and fuelled by the hope and belief we can be the difference our young people need us to be. Conceptually, hope is an abstract construct; it means different things to different people and for some, nothing at all.  Hope is often thought to be synonymous with faith or optimism.  While it has a relationship with these things, it requires more than passively wishing for something to be so, or thinking positively. It is generated through action.

In working to bring about the conditions for hope we need to be grounded in reality and to acknowledge that we live in a hope-challenged world that seems hardwired for injustice. Society is structured so as there will always be those who experience disaffection, exclusion and poverty of hope.  To remain hopeful, we must exercise humility and accept the limits of our reach and influence, using what we have to do what we can to help ourselves and others who may be experiencing difficulties or distress. We can often nurture hope through establishing positive rhythms and routines, recognising the importance of consistency in nurturing experiences that lay the foundations for a sense of safety and purpose and through which we can construct happiness and meaning in our lives.   Stability and support from adults who are invested in young people can support them to challenge low expectations they can hold for themselves, who they are, what they can do and future possibilities. 

While hope may be difficult to define, it can be foundational and transcendent, rooted and reaching.  In active pursuit, we create light in the present that can help reframe past experiences and align them to aspiration by illuminating possibilities for happiness and a sense of future.

From adversity and trauma to social, emotional, and personal resilience and competence

The approach enabled by the Roots to Growth framework is relational at its core and focuses on how significant care relationships develop and support resilience and wellbeing. It uses ‘I have’, ‘I am’ and ‘I can’ statements to describe the competencies and outlook that support the development of significant and enduring relationships, identity, social, emotional and practical skills. These statements also describe caring experiences that create the conditions for happiness, hope and a positive future outlook. This approach is supported by in-depth knowledge of theory and research from the field of residential child care and related fields.

‘I have’: The focus here is on significant relationships and the support these provide.

‘I am’: Focuses on the development of positive identity and positive values.

‘I can’: Focuses on the development of a sense of competence and control over life events.

A Trauma and Adversity Informed and Responsive Culture

A milieu, a person-centred enabling culture, that is supportive of growth and development for young people and adults is being actively developed. This recognises that how we interact with each other impacts on the culture. And, just as we are susceptible to the misapplication of survival skills, organisations themselves are equally vulnerable and often respond to stress with rigidity that can cause fragmentation. To avoid this kind of parallel process we need to to think and act in way that is congruent with our shared values. Within this, professionalism is not determined by rules and standards, but by a collective commitment to our shared mission and values enacted through trust, mutual expectations and accountability in our relationships with one another.   


For more information on our Practice Framework, Roots to Growth, you can email: