We always look forward to contributions from members of our social work community, as we value hearing the opinions of social workers across the country. It’s so important to hear honest thoughts from front-line social workers about their day-to-day lives and their places of work, as it helps build a clear picture about how we can support social work throughout the UK.
This is the first of a 2-part contribution from social workers at North East Lincolnshire Council, detailing their passion for social work and how NELC has helped them develop as practitioners. Part 1 is from Aimee Jones, an established social worker within North East Lincolnshire, who explains why she has chosen to stay and what value she feels NELC offers her professional life:
What’s your involvement with North East Lincolnshire?
I have been a qualified social worker within the Children’s Assessment and Safeguarding Service (CASS) at North East Lincolnshire for 7 years. I first began my time in what was Family Support Service as a student in January 2011, and then secured a job whilst on placement. I then started working for the service in July 2011. During this time, we have had a few changes, a new name, new team and a new building as well as a few restructures.
CASS is a front-line child protection team, working with families from the point of referral through to the end, whether this is adoption, long term fostering or closing to no service or universal services. We hold cases at CIN, Child Protection, LAC and private law. Therefore, there is plenty of variety, plenty of experiences and no time for getting bored.
Why have you chosen to stay at North East Lincolnshire?
As with all jobs, especially in front line child protection, it is hard, and it is an emotionally draining job, some days you have that odd quiet day where you can get things done and other days it is back to back and crazy! So why stay? The reason why I have decided to stay in the job and more importantly in North East Lincolnshire is for both professional and personal reasons.
Personally, being in North East Lincolnshire, is ideal for me, it is within a 40minute drive for me to get to and from work each day. This gives me the perfect amount of time to separate work from being a Mummy. It allows me to have switch of time and try and box things off in my head on the way, of course music turned up loud always helps! It also means that I can go out and spend time being a Mummy or at a weekend and work isn’t on the door step and isn’t a constant reminder, I don’t have that worry of bumping into people that I work with when I am being me at the weekend.
Professionally, I have chosen to stay for a number of reasons, one of these being training. Since being here I have had a number of training opportunities to develop myself and have been able to attend training that follows my interests. I started before the ASYE programme commenced so training was not as formally structured as it is for new workers now. Despite this I still had a number of opportunities to explore further training that is outside of the local authority training offer. I have had the opportunity to do ABE training, as well as attending training sessions from outside speakers and professionals. We work through Signs of Safety in North East Lincolnshire and I was able to undertake the 5-day training on this as well. This is to name a very few. I have recently had the opportunity to engage in the first talent and leadership academy held within the council. This was open to all members of staff within the council at all levels to explore different leadership styles and different ways of working across a number of sectors. This again has provided me with a number of experiences. We have the SWAT (social worker action team) within the local authority, which I have had the chance to be a current chair. This is an action group who sit within the children’s social care teams to assist in the trialling of and creating different policies and implementing changes across the board to make improvements to the well-being and practical support for social workers within these areas.
What is special about working at North East Lincolnshire Council?
As with all front-line child protection social work, it is stressful, hard work and demanding. However, within North East Lincolnshire, there is always someone around to listen, off load to and talk difficult situations through with, as well as those there to share the positives with. This can be a fellow colleague, or manager all the way up the management team. There are also other teams within the building such as fostering and adoption, through care, contact service, Children’s Disability Services, Housing and Family Group Conferencing, all of which will offer help support and guidance on any issues that crop up within the working day. People are always prepared to help and if this isn’t at the time they will find time to do so. If you put in the hard work it is recognised even when you don’t think it is being all the time. There is an element of flexibility within working in that you manage your own diary and we have compressed days. These are a bonus as once per fortnight you get a day off – giving you much needed time to chill out and recharge the batteries. Mangers at North East Lincolnshire are understanding of those with young families and children that there are times that the best made plans don’t pull through which definitely makes it easier when difficulties arise as you aren’t made to feel guilty or pressured.
Teams go through their ups and downs and I have experienced plenty within the last 7years. However, things feel good, there is more stability around, there is a real push to support social workers in reducing caseloads and getting those cases ready to close shut down, and by readjusting teams there has been an increase in quality and quantity of supervision. All in all, it’s a good place to work, I love my job and have no plans of moving any time soon.