Government official Dame Louise Casey DBE CB says public service should be re-humanised to change families and communities for the better.
Speaking at Leeds Trinity University on Wednesday 14 June, Dame Louise reflected on her impressive 20-year career in social welfare, including her work with homelessness, anti-social behaviour and troubled families.
She talked about her work as Deputy Director of homelessness charity Shelter, her role as the UK's first independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses and her time as Director General of the government's Troubled Families Team, but shared concerns that public service still needs to be governed more by the interests of the people it is trying to help, not the systems themselves.
"Public service is not built around a person, but transactional processes and systems," said Dame Louise.
"It's needs to be looked at. We need to help people on their terms, not ours, and people – not process – should underpin public service."
She suggested that the public is frustrated with the system and that services need to respond. But she added that the best of public service should also be seen as a great service to society:
"There is real dignity and honour in helping other people, and we all have the power and capacity individually, and together, to help treat people with compassion. Human values underpin the best of public service; it's about faith in people and the hope that no-one should be left in a vulnerable position."
Dame Louise also talked about her inspection of Rotherham Council, in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal, and her most recent role as Director General of the Casey Review Team, which conducted a review into integration and opportunities in some of the UK's most isolated communities.
Professor Margaret House, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said:
"Dame Louise's talk was interesting and thought-provoking, and we are genuinely honoured to welcome her to Leeds Trinity University. We had a fantastically engaged audience of staff, students and friends of the University, including postgraduates studying the only Masters in Family Support in the country, here at Leeds Trinity. I know they, like many of our guests, will have found Dame Louise's talk very inspiring."
Dame Louise Casey DBE CB was speaking at Leeds Trinity University as part of a series of high-profile Trinity Talks to celebrate the institution's 50th Anniversary year.
For more information about Leeds Trinity, visit www.leedstrintiy.ac.uk.