Following on from the first part of this insight into North East Lincolnshire Council by the brilliant Aimee Jones, we’re now hearing from a NQSW – John Taylor – whose time at NELC has been part of his introduction into the world of social work. Getting this sort of feedback about front-line services is vital for our team at One Stop Social as it helps us understand the realities facing social workers across the UK, and we can then adapt and support them in a more effective way.
What was your background and introduction into social work?
In 2015 I took on what I considered the biggest challenge of my adult life. I accepted the offer to study for a B.A. in social work at the University of Hull. I had left school at the age of 15 and started work on a building site and stayed in the construction industry for 25 years. However, in 2013/14 through personal experience with children’s and adult services, losing family and friends to substance misuse and being born and bred on one of the largest housing estates’ in Europe, I decided to train to become a social worker.
I left the construction industry and I formulated a 5-year plan that would lead me to become a Social Worker. Therefore, I signed up to Hull College to undertake my GCSE’s in maths and English and undertake an access to higher education course which at the time of completion was one of the biggest achievements of my life so far.
My first placement was at a criminal justice Drugs and Alcohol treatment service, the second was split into two parts. For the first part I was placed at the Family Assessment and Support Unit (FASU) which was based at the University of Hull. However, due to austerity and the current economic and issues it was decided that FASU was not financially feasible to keep running. Thus, FASU closed midway through my placement; however, when it was explained that I would be placed at one of the local authority teams in Hull. I remember thinking that I will be having three placements overall; however, I embraced the opportunity to experience as much as I could. I finished my last University placement in June 2018, just as I started looking and applying for jobs.
How did you get involved with North East Lincolnshire?
I initially applied to both Hull City Council and North East Lincolnshire Council Children’s Social Services; however, whilst on placement in Hull I did genuinely have reservations about practicing as a social Worker in Hull. For example, whilst I was based at the North locality in Hull I did know several of the children and families I can into contact with. I was subsequently offered an interview at NELC and I and I gladly accepted. The interview process was a full day that was split into several parts; I personally felt that this gave me an opportunity to give the interview panel a holistic view of who are am and what I could bring to role of a Social Worker. Several days after the interview, I received a phone call explaining that I had been successful in the interview and that they were offering a job in the Children’s Assessment and Support Service (CASS) team at North East Lincolnshire (NEL). I accepted it with a mixture of emotions, ranging from amazement, excitement, joy, fear and relief and I started working as a social worker for NEL on the 6th August 2018.
What do you value about working with North East Lincolnshire?
At NEL they have an excellent four-week induction process for Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) who are in the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), which I found very good and to the highest standard. For example, during the four week induction process as a NQSW I did not hold any cases myself; however, there is a great emphasis on relevant training, gaining a good knowledge of local agencies and services, team building, and many shadowing and networking opportunities. At NEL’s there are three Advanced Practitioners (AP’s) that assist with the induction process. The role of the AP’s in the four week induction period is to mentor and encourage the NQSW’s, explain the process of the induction, answer any questions and undertake the first four supervisions of NQSW’s. As a NQSW I did feel that having the AP’s was an invaluable part to the induction and aided all of the NQSW’s including myself to form a bond and feel that we were all part of a one big team.
In the social work sector professionals can often struggle to cope with high caseloads of complex cases leading to Social Workers to become stressed and experience burnout and also for the children and families that they support to receive inappropriate support. However, at NEL’s there is currently a drive towards maintaining appropriate caseloads and promoting self-care; therefore, enabling practitioners to engage with and build good working relationships with other professionals and the individuals that they are supporting. In all, working in the CASS team has been a very positive one so far; therefore, I am very excited and looking forward to the next phase of my social work journey and ongoing professional learning and development here at NEL.