It’s never too late to be the best you can be….. Join us in Manchester, we’re recruiting Social Workers, Social Work Consultants and Independent Reviewing Officers
“No one day is like another.” So says Tom, a social worker at Manchester City Council, about working in the city. “There are a lot of different cultures we work with, so there are a lot of different issues that you get experience of, like trafficking, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, as well as the usual things which social workers deal with.”
Manchester City Council has approved an investment of more than £14million in additional funding for more staff, and more support for staff, as part of a four year improvement plan to transform services for the children and young people of Manchester. This improvement journey follows an Ofsted inspection in 2014 which judged services inadequate, and forced a major rethink for the authority.
“Ironically, it means that we’re now probably one of the fastest improving Councils” says Paul Marshall, Director of Children’s Services. “We’ve reviewed every part of our service to see how it can be improved, from creating an exceptional leadership team, to investment to reduce caseloads, to improving support for social workers and continuous professional development programmes.
Also, since 2015 we’ve benefited from the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy. This teaching partnership is one of only four in the UK and consists of ten local authorities, two higher education institutes and two voluntary and community sector partners.
The academy focuses on delivering innovative, high quality social work education taking a social worker through the entire journey from admissions to study, then into employment and beyond.” This is just one example of many where local authorities across Greater Manchester are starting to work collaboratively as part of the devolution agreement with central government. This collaboration will inevitably create opportunities for new ways of working and career progression that are unparalleled in other parts of the country.
Another recent long term investment by the council has been its recent adoption of the Signs of Safety way of working- a strengths-based model created by social workers in Australia and now being used in authorities around the UK.
“It’s another example of us making a change now which we will build on over the coming years.” says Paul. “We’ve already trained more than 600 staff and partners who are now starting to use the new model, which fits in perfectly with Our Manchester, our asset-based approach to delivering and transforming services. We’ll be training new staff who join, and hopefully welcoming some from other areas who have been using it for some time.”
So why should someone who’s settled as a social worker in another authority want to move to Manchester? Manchester social worker, Lucy, sites teamwork as a major strength: “The biggest support we get is from colleagues and our team. Our teams are protective of each other, and become like a little family. If you ever have a difficult meeting or an upsetting visit, you have the team to talk to, then regroup and carry on. There are also social work consultants, based in localities, who are very approachable. Even our senior social workers are still learning, and are always happy to support others.”
“It’s this wealth of experience which we are hoping to tap into when we recruit social workers.” says Paul. “We obviously need to recruit at all levels, but we particularly hope to attract some more experienced social workers. This may be people who have a wealth of experience under their belts, but are tempted by the thought of a further challenge.
We reward, support and empower our social workers to be the best, and that is at whatever stage of their career they may be. In return we expect and support high standards of social work practice. There are many opportunities for career development, and our developing early intervention and early help services mean that there is more time to concentrate on complex and high level cases, where previous experience is so valuable.”
"We reward, support and empower our social workers to be the best, and that is at whatever stage of their career they may be."
“The changes we have already made mean that we can offer a wider range of career paths to suit people’s interests, capabilities and non-work lives.” continues Paul. “Creating a more stable, confident and capable workforce is at the heart of our vision for the future. So as well as investing in more staff in order to reduce workloads, we are also investing in a range of initiatives to support and empower our staff.
“One of these is smarter working. We recognise that great social work is not always delivered by being in the office 9-5 Monday to Friday, so we have developed a set of working practices that empower social workers to manage their time effectively and have a work/life balance.”
Each service (of three to five teams) also has its own Consultant Social Worker assigned to it. This experienced practitioner (equal grade to a Team Manager) is responsible for supporting practice by working alongside ASYE students, delivering tailored CPD to the wider team and assisting with complex cases.
Paul concludes: “We have implemented new practice and supervision standards which guarantee the frequency and duration of supervision for all social work staff, at all levels. In addition, we have created an updated training and development programme. I want our social workers to have time to do their job, and opportunities to develop their leadership and practice skills.”
“Our offer (featured in full elsewhere on the site) includes salaries which are competitive to similar roles in our region, a 35-hour working week, 25 days annual leave (30 days after five years' service), an Annual Leave Purchase Scheme, an essential car users allowance, free parking for all social work staff at all locality offices and a lump sum of up to £9,230 in relocation support.
“All in all, there has never been a better time to work in our vibrant, booming, family friendly. Give yourself the challenge to go beyond the great social worker you already are, and be become the best social worker that you can be.”