Find out more about the different types of roles people have working with children by catching up with their stories here. 

Nursery and after school care

'I’m thrilled to be part of the ongoing development of Little Steps Child Care and I’m excited to see what the future might bring.' 

Karen Chatterton, Depute Manager of a nursery 

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Karen has worked in child care for 10 years, since leaving school. Read more about her role as Depute Manager at Little Steps Child Care.

 
What type of service do you work in? Providing child care to working parents. Little Steps Childcare offers a range of services including breakfast club, morning care, out of school club for primary school children and a pick-up and drop-off service for schools.
Children range in ages from babies to primary school. On average, we can have around 45 children attending the morning session and 55 at the out of school club.
Have you always worked in social services? Yes, I have worked in child care since leaving school, about ten years ago.
Can you tell us more about your job? As Deputy Manager, my main role is to oversee the day-to-day running of the nursery. Tasks include compiling rotas, registers and waiting lists, overseeing the three different agegroup rooms (0-2, 2–3 and 3-5 year olds), supporting staff, covering shifts, and facilitating pick-ups and drop-offs. Communicating with parents is also key. This can consist of regular face to face meetings or responding to emails and requests. All our children have their own individual care plans and some may require extra support, for example, behavioural or learning.
What are you working on at the moment? We are in the process of introducing room audits which will lead to ‘Room of the Month’ and ‘Staff Member of the Month’ awards. These awards, which are currently being developed by team members, should allow us to identify areas that need more attention, while incentivising exemplary work. We’re also planning a calendar of events, from our open day to the highly anticipated graduation in the summer.
Who else is in your team? Little Steps Childcare has a nursery owner and a manager. Both myself and Kristy job share the role of Deputy Manager, working directly with three Room Seniors. Seven other staff members make up the full team. We also have an Early Years Practitioner who manages the out of school club and a parent who kindly provides hot lunches for the children.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I have my Personal Development Award in Child Care which I completed over an 18 month period.
What part of the job motivates you and why? No two days are the same. Being Deputy Manager generally takes you away from being with the children full time. This only means that when you do get the time in the rooms, it’s appreciated and enjoyed all the more.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Every day is different. When you walk into work, you have no idea what the day will bring. Being a small business, sometimes small things can have a big impact. One day, my manager was away and four members of staff called in sick! It certainly teaches you to think on your toes.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Being able to make a positive impact on young people’s lives while also supporting parents as their children grow and develop.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Certainly patience but also having a warm aura about you is important. You want children to feel secure in your presence. You also need to be a team player. All our team members have quite different qualities; one of the girls is really into her craft and art, while others are outdoorsy. Another is never off Pinterest, so regularly comes into work with new, fun and quirky ideas. These all add to the development of our service and, in turn, the learning experience the children receive at Little Steps Child Care.
What training and development opportunities have you undertaken whilst in your current job? My training is ongoing. Three core areas that everyone has to regularly update are child protection, food hygiene and first aid. Any additional training is a real bonus. We certainly always ensure that we work collaboratively and share best practise.
How do you see your career progressing? As a working mum, I’m very happy in my current role. I’m thrilled to be part of the ongoing development of Little Steps Child Care and I’m excited to see what the future might bring.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Although the role can bring a lot of positives, in comparison to council nurseries it’s not the best paid job. It is, however, on a par with other privately run child care services.

 

'Working with children - you don't need any more motivation.'

Anthony Docherty, Child Development Officer

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Anthony works at Kelvinside Academy Nursery with three to five year old children.

 

What type of service do you work in?

I work with three to five year old children Monday to Friday where a colleague and I work with a group of 10 children. On Sundays I coach boys’ rugby at Glasgow Hawks.

Have you always worked in social services? No, I previously worked in Gran Canaria as a holiday rep before working in and managing bars.
What made you choose the career you have now? My mother worked in education from nursery to secondary school and I spent time helping in nurseries and enjoyed it, I was good at it and I could see that I could help children.
Can you tell us more about your job?

The nursery puts the children at the centre of everything we do.

We start our days by making the children feel safe and happy when entering the building and also making the parents comfortable. We strive to give the best care to the children as possible. We have group time in the morning and a time to observe in the afternoon.

We have lots of votes and conversations with the children so everything we do is relevant to them and they understand why we are doing each activity. The open plan nursery, built at Balgray Playing Fields in 2013, has a lovely outdoor space that is open to the children every day. We have staff who cover this area with activities and themes.

Who else is in your team? The Head of Nursery, Deputy Manager, Holiday Session Manager, five Early Years Practitioners a Support Worker and two Modern Apprentices.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Working with children - you don’t need any more motivation. They want to learn, talk, share and laugh or they may want help. It’s up to us to give them the best possible start in education- not just helping with things like numbers and letters, but helping with social and emotional skills. You can make a difference every day.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Good communication, not just with the children but with colleagues makes everything easier. Open, friendly body language so the children always feel safe and welcome. A good sense of humour and empathy to name a few.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes I hope to start my BA in early years once I get my fitness up, as I am recovering from chronic fatigue (ME).
How do you see your career progressing? I have lots of ideas but haven’t made any plans apart from doing my BA and further rugby qualifications.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? If you’re thinking about working with children go for it, you don’t know what you are missing and what a difference you can make. I wish there were more males in the industry- there needs to be a better balance.

 

'I have continued to professionally develop myself and the more I read and listen to research the more motivated I become.'

Caroline Clark, Operations Manager in a nursery

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Caroline started working in child care 23 years ago after her children’s head teacher recommended a career in nursery education to her. Read more about her role as Operations Manager at Crieff Hydro hotel.

 
Have you always worked in social services? I have worked in the child care field for the past 23 years.
What made you choose the career you have now? When my children were small I volunteered at their school. The head teacher advised me to take up a career in nursery education.
Can you tell us more about your job? We are a holiday club and we’re registered for 140 children aged 0-16. We run three three-hour sessions a day.
Who else is in your team? There is a finance manager, an assistant manager, a reception team and child care team.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? I sit in the Home Start Trustee Board.  My role is child protection and recruitment officer.
 What part of the job motivates you and why? I think it’s just my calling, so to speak. I have continued to professionally develop myself and the more I read and listen to research the more motivated I become.
What are the best bits about your job? All of it. I still like to observe the children at play, watch the new trends etc.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? As we are quite rural, retaining team members can be a challenge.  Most people see it as a summer job.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding?  The support and training.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you’re doing? Have patience, good observation, empathic, energy and many more skills that have been developed through the years.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Lots! I have also learned about the various lifestyles of people - the different cultures and their values and beliefs, the global ecology.
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to become an inspector of services.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? It is an interesting and diverse field. There are multiple opportunities available.

 

'No two days are ever the same and you never know what the day ahead will hold but it is normally something special when you are working with children under five'

Jennifer Marshall, Nursery Manager

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Jennifer originally trained in social care and volunteered in a youth centre before starting her career in child care. Read more about her role as Nursery Manager at Enchanted Forest Nursery.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? Enchanted Forest Nursery is a private nursery in partnership with local authorities. We work with children aged six weeks to five years and their families. We ensure we meet children’s individual needs through observation and assessment. We take a holistic approach to child development, ensuring that we support our children in all aspects of their lives. We plan, support and facilitate learning experiences using the Pre-Birth to Three Curriculum and The Curriculum for Excellence guidelines to achieve better outcomes for children.
Have you always worked in social services? I originally trained in social care, which led me to volunteer in a youth centre. I went on to work in retail for a while before returning to college to complete my HNC in Early Years Education and Childcare.
What made you choose the career you have now? I have always had a special connection with children and enjoy their company. I find child development and how they see the world fascinating. I am passionate about children and wanted to do a job that allowed me to engage, interact and support their learning and development at an early stage.
Can you tell us more about your job? As the manager of the service it is my responsibility to oversee the nursery and ensure we are meeting the needs of our children and families. As part of my role I build positive relationships with children, parents and other agencies. I support our early years educators to ensure we deliver a quality service. I manage our early learning experiences and outcomes by training and mentoring staff making sure we use current and innovative practice. I work closely with the staff team to create a welcoming, nurturing and stimulating environment where little people feel precious.
Who else is in your team?  We have a staff team of 21. As part of our management team we have a deputy manager. Each of our three departments has a lead early years educator. On our team we have a total of nine early years educators and eight early years support workers who are all working towards their qualifications.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? I work with other agencies regularly, for example health, education and outreach teams.
What part of your job motivates you and why? To be successful in this sector you must be highly motivated, I have always been motivated by the impact I can have as a practitioner on a child’s development. Supporting children to reach new stages in their development, being actively involved and watching the children grow and develop their own personalities and interests.
What are the best bits about your job? The best part of my role is interacting with children and spending time getting to know them as individuals. Giving children a voice and supporting them to grow in confidence and express themselves. I always get a sense of satisfaction when I am in a playroom that is nurturing and stimulating and all the children in my care are engaged and challenged. No two days are ever the same and you never know what the day ahead will hold but it is normally something special when you are working with children under five.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? There are lots of challenges when working with children under five, one of the most challenging concepts is getting the balance between allowing them to be independent, explore and experiment and the impulse to keep them safe. We encourage children to self-regulate and risk assess where possible.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Supporting a child to try something new, persevere and reach a goal, make a friend, express themselves, knowing you are part of that and sharing the moment, seeing their face light up is the absolute best reward. Helping children who need extra support to access the curriculum and supporting them to reach their potential, ensuring that all children in my care have access to the same opportunities.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you’re doing? To work in early years, I think enthusiasm and passion are really important as these will be the driving force that will help you gain the underpinning knowledge that is needed. To be a quality practitioner you will need to be approachable, patient, responsive, caring, compassionate, committed, nurturing and dedicated.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have just recently completed my BA Childhood Practice. For my SSSC registration I must complete 90 hours continuous professional development (CPD) every three years, however I have accessed much more than this to stay on top of current and innovative practice. It is essential to keep up to date with new polices and initiatives when managing a nursery. Every day I learn something new, continuous professional development is a necessity when working in the early year’s sector. This sector is very important and as society is beginning to appreciate the importance of early intervention and the impact early years has on long term development, expectations are changing. As society changes their view of ‘the child’ so does our practice.
How do you see your career progressing? I love working in early years; I know I will always stay attached to this sector, but maybe the future holds a different role. The BA Childhood Practice allows me to build on my existing knowledge and skills to access different social service careers.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? You have to be prepared to work hard and face challenges but you will never be bored. Working in social services is a really rewarding career and one of the most important jobs I can think of. You can positively impact children’s lives making them better if you are enthusiastic and committed.

 

'People’s lives can be changed for the better from your knowledge and caring.'

Penny Anderson, Lead Practitioner, day care of children services

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Penny left school with some formal qualifications and never expected to be undertaking a doctorate.

 

 

Tell us a bit about the service you work in. I work in and out of school care setting. I have been here for 20 years and seen many changes. From no qualifications and frameworks to our current state. Twenty years ago we had four children, we now look after 1,300 a week!
Have you always worked in social services? I worked in travel and then left to be a mother.
What made you choose the career you have now? My son was born with additional support needs. I thought this would be like a mother and toddler which I would support and then go back to work.
Can you tell us more about your job? I have lead a project for 20 years as well as developing the company and other staff. My own project is registered for 104 children per day and last year was graded ‘excellent’ in six categories out of eight when we were inspected by the Care Inspectorate, the other two were graded as ‘very good’. We care for around 52 children with additional support needs and this means advocating for families.
What are you working on at the moment? I am mentoring staff to undertake the BA in Childhood Practice and have just opened a training department that is VQ accredited to ensure the quality of staff is at the level stakeholders expect and deserve. Staff have opportunities to keep training passed their qualification requirements if they wish to. This helps retain staff we would lose as out of school care is naturally part time. Each staff member also has a reflective journal to ensure reflection is part of the natural everyday activity. As a company we are raising funds for a much needed post-natal depression unit in our area after the loss of one of our staff.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I completed the BA in Childhood Practice in 2012 as my lead practitioner qualification (at age 50). I now hold the Master in Education Childhood Practice which I completed this year and have just started the Doctorate in Education.
Can you explain who else is on your team? My team is very diverse from the communities of practice I established as part of my working practice and student placement, these are in health and social work as well as working closely with education. I have a team of 17 senior staff, an office team of six, two other directors and a staff team of around 60.
Do you work with other professionals? We extend school programmes such as eco schools and right respecting as this is something that children need to be able to do in all contexts. After my health placement we now take in student health visitors as we work so closely with parents and are often a referral agency. I am also a professional advisor on the Scottish Out of School Care Network to ensure knowledge is shared throughout the out of school community. I regularly take part in joint assessments and child protection hearings. From this, staff have been trained in nurture including Boxall profiling and play therapy techniques. Every year staff train all P6 and P7 in East Renfrewshire schools in Heart Start. This helps support school staff. We offer career opportunities for S4 students and placements for those undertaking the community service aspect of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
What part of your job motivates you and why? I enjoy seeing people achieve. From a learning stance many of our staff did not achieve qualifications from school and I enjoy seeing them receive their awards or going onto other careers in either social services or education.
What are the best bits about your job? Offering people chances who may not normally get them. We have staff with additional support needs as well as supporting families back into work. When my son was younger and I had many medical and educational visits and it offered me flexibility. As a company we stay true to that for other staff too.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? Standardisation has made it difficult to understand your identity. Play is not valued by society as a whole as it is something that is perceived as natural. We have recently changed our job descriptions to encompass the title Care and Playful Learning Practitioner instead of playcarer. The challenge is to change people’s perceptions of the job away from domesticated care to understanding the professional care ethic.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I enjoy passing my skills and knowledge to others. I feel rewarded when children that have experienced trauma or adversity become resilient and pull through the other side.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you’re doing? Compassion and passion. Being nonjudgemental. Being assertive enough to speak up for others, team-working is very important, you will not have all the skills yourself and you need to borrow the strength of others. Be a reflective practitioner. This means starting from yourself, being accountable and being prepared to use your initiative to move forward.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you and if so what kind of things? I left school with some formal qualifications and I would never have expected to be undertaking a doctorate. My career was always going to be more vocational but it has turned out to be a balance of the two.
How would you see your career progressing? My career will stay the same but I am now looking to succession planning for the next generation of leaders. I hope to do research as there are few journals out there from this sector.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? It’s much more important than you think. People’s lives can be changed for the better from your knowledge and caring.

 

'I'm helping to break down barriers and build confidence.'

Lorraine Kirkwood, Head of Service, Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central

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Lorraine coordinates the day to day operation of the service and supports and manages 20 staff.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central opened in July 2014. The service caters for children aged six weeks to 16 years. The service is open 51 weeks of the year and looks after 119 children daily.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? After leaving school I worked for an airline for four years; I enjoyed travelling and meeting a wide variety of people. After my son was born it was difficult to return to long hours and irregular shift patterns so I decided to change direction with my career.
What made you choose the career you have now?

Childcare was a big factor for my career change. I wanted to have a work and home life balance. Being a first time mum I wanted to ensure I was able to support and watch my son grow up.

Everyone I know said I had a fantastic way with children and that I should look at becoming a teacher or practitioner.

Can you tell us more about your job?

As Head of Service I coordinate the day to day operation of the service and support and manage 20 staff. I make sure communications are strong throughout the service and work closely with the staff and parents to take their views and opinions into consideration to enhance and develop the growing service.

I work with our quality improvement officer to make sure staff have access to training and the children within our care receive high quality play opportunities and are cared for to a high standard.

I am responsible for the health and safety of the service and for budgets and fees. I make sure we meet Care Inspectorate standards and that policies and procedures are adhered to daily.

I also work closely with other agencies to share practice and develop community links.

What qualifications do you need for this job? I need to have a BA in Childhood Practice.
Who else is in your team? We have a deputy manager, four senior practitioners, 13 practitioners, three training practitioners, a cook and our cleaning team of two.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? At the moment I am working closely with speech and language professionals, educational psychologists, social work, local community police team and our community health team.
What part of the job motivates you and why? I enjoying seeing the staff and children grow and develop. Also knowing that the parents are relaxed and trust us to look after their child. I believe that the children in my care are treated and respected the same way I would want my own children cared for.
What are the best bits about your job? Seeing the children light up with excitement when they have new play experiences and events. Helping to provide learning experiences which open their minds to new ideas and help them become confident individuals. Graduation is always a highlight knowing I have helped prepare the children as their learning journey takes a new turn.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? The level of change which has occurred over the past five years within the early years sector has been challenging; trying to make sure I keep up with policy and government changes. Accessing good quality training for my staff to further enhance their knowledge and make sure the provision is following the most current good practice. Opening Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central as a new service and growing the business has been very positive but also a challenging experience.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I find my job very rewarding, I am helping to shape and develop the generations to come. I’m helping to break down barriers and build confidence which will allow the children to believe in themselves and their community.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? The skills and qualities I believe you require to do my job are good communication skills, warmth and compassion, good leadership qualities, strong time management and good people skills every day.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I continue to enhance my skill set through attending university to gain an additional postgraduate diploma in childhood practice. This has helped me become more reflective in my management approach and has enhanced my professional knowledge of our changing sector.
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to open and own my own service over the next 10 years or work as a Care Inspector.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? If you believe you have the nature and ability to help and support people, then it is a rewarding journey to be part of.

 

Residential child care

'…if you care about people, are honest, compassionate and have love to give then this is the job for you'

Linda Westwater-Scott, Team Leader in a residential child care service

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Linda has always worked in a caring role and after completing a nursery nurse course she found her way into helping those in residential child care. Read more about her role as a residential child care worker.

 
What type of service do you work in? I work for a voluntary organisation that provides young people a range of care from the age of 15½ to 25. I work as a team leader in a residential unit for five young people where qualified workers are available 24 hours a day.
Have you always worked in social services? I have always worked in some form of caring capacity.
What made you choose the career you have now? After I had completed my nursery nurse training I was offered a position with Barnardo’s. At that time Barnardo’s was offering young people who were living in Gogarburn hospital and who had learning and mobility challenges an opportunity to live in small groups instead of in a large hospital. I really enjoyed this job and wanted to continue to work somewhere that offered the same type of experience.
Can you tell us more about your job? No two days are ever the same! I have the opportunity to empower young people to grow and develop in a safe and nurturing environment. We cook, we clean, we help with laundry and we accompany young people to interviews and appointments. We are part of their reviews and hearings and write reports for any meetings that our young people are involved in. I work an average of 111 hours over a three week period, day shifts only.
Who else is in your team? We have a manager, three team leaders, day workers and night workers.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? We work with criminal justice teams, social workers, teachers, psychologists, doctors, dentists and police to name a few.
What part of the job motivates you and why? The hope that I can make a small positive difference in the lives of the young people and their families that I work with.
What are the best bits about your job? Laughter. Young people finding something they are good at and enjoying it. Seeing them in a relationship that makes them happy. Making something in the kitchen that they enjoy. Helping them achieve their potential.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? The young people can present with challenges such as misusing drugs/alcohol and often have anger management issues. Young people can be mistrusting of professionals and I’ve found this to be especially the case as a female worker.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? It is very rewarding to witness how little things can make big changes in a young person’s life. I enjoy seeing young people developing their skills and gaining confidence in their abilities.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you’re doing? You need to be a caring person and enjoy what you do. Being self-sufficient, innovative and able to overcome challenges are requirements when working with young people. Being able to think outside the box is helpful. Being thick skinned and not taking some comments/actions personally is helpful. Excellent communication skills on all levels.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes - every day! I am encouraged to participate in courses and seminars. My employers are very keen to have their staff group highly qualified for the work we do. I am always learning from the young people themselves - they teach me without realising it!
How do you see your career progressing? I have recently become a team leader and I am currently developing my role.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would say if you care about people, are honest, compassionate and have love to give then this is the job for you.

 

'It is very rewarding when you see a young person progress and know you have been part of that progression'

Ruth Tudor, Residential Child Care Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Ruth has worked in residential child care since 2004 in various services.

 

 

Can you tell us about your job? In residential child care we provide a stable home environment, caring for young people to help with daily community living, including mainstream education where possible.
Who else is in your team? Core team of six staff and house manager.
What part of your job motivates you and why? The ability to support young people to improve their lives and succeed, whether through education, return to family, leaving care and moving on to the next life stage. Seeing a change in behaviour that suggests they have responded to our care – however small.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? The young people we care for often display challenging behaviour and so helping them understand why they behave the way they do and how they can help themselves alter the behaviour for an improved sense of self.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Providing support to enable people to do things that I take for granted, knowing I have improved (even in a small way) someone’s life.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you’re doing? Empathy, congruence, unconditional positive regard, patience, tolerance, ability to be nonjudgemental, aware of my own limitations, not afraid to admit when I am wrong, good listener and the ability to be rational.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I receive yearly training on crisis and anger limitation and management, child protection and the sanctuary model – the model used within Care Visions.
How do you see your career progressing? At the present time I am unsure. I also have a job as a part-time lecturer in my local college, teaching on the HNC in Social Care and I have other pressures on my time which will take me to July 2016 when I will feel better placed to decide what I do next. I would anticipate that I will remain in third sector employment or continue teaching.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? It is a job of highs and lows and is incredibly hard work. It is, however, very rewarding when you see a young person progress and know you have been part of that progression.

'To make the slightest improvement in any service user’s life, gives me a good deal of personal satisfaction.'

Joe McKelvie, Support Worker

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Joe is a foster carer as well as a support worker in a residential service and takes great pride in helping to make any improvements in peoples’ lives.

 

What type of service do you work in?

We have six service users, living in a 24 hour residential service

Have you always worked in social services? Far too many jobs to list. I am however a foster carer.
What made you choose the career you have now?

I’ve been blessed with a good life, and felt the time was right to share some of my good fortunes.

Can you tell us more about your job?

I am personally responsible for two service users, as I am key worker to them both. I am responsible for liaising with all other members of a multi-disciplinary team, providing the best quality care possible for our service users.

What are you working on at the moment? I am currently working on developing my makaton skills.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I need to hold an SVQ3 in social care.
Who else is in your team?

We have four other support workers and 14 assistant support workers on our team. 

Do you work with other professionals and in what ways? As previously mentioned, I work with all healthcare professionals, to ensure each service user receives the best of health care.
What part of the job motivates you and why?

To make the slightest improvement in any service users’ life, gives me a good deal of personal satisfaction.

What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Challenges vary from lack of understanding, to innocent ignorance, and service users not having equal rights in society.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding?

I take great pride in making any improvement in anyone’s life.

Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Patience, flexibility, honesty, good sense of humour, and understanding that everyone is different.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have learned a great deal over the years working in this field.
How do you see your career progressing? I am quite happy to remain at this level as going upwards takes you away from the service users and puts you at a desk!
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Come along and join us. It’s the best job I have ever had (fostering aside) and we never have two days the same.

 

School care accommodation

'The girls, I love the relationship I have with them. Even after they have left the school, many still stay in touch, visiting if they happen to be in the area. I recently received an email titled – “Happy Mothers’ Day to my second mother.'

 Joanna Hargreaves, Matron of a girl’s boarding house

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Joanna didn’t always work in social services. She worked in an office after leaving college and also spent time working for North Yorkshire County Council before taking on a learning support role at Giggleswick School in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

 

Can you tell us about your job? My main role is to be an adult present in the house and be responsible for the welfare of the girls by assisting the Housemistress and her team. My duties include:  pastoral care of the boarding community and day pupils  ensuring pupils are in the right place at the right time  laundry administration  health and safety (daily room checks for fire hazards)  emotional support to the pupils and general administration and assistance in the smooth running of the house.
What are you working on at the moment? As we near the end of term, one of my key roles is to organise travel plans for the girls whose parents are unable to collect them directly. This can include booking taxis and flights in addition to arranging heavy items, such as study books, being sent to their homes via courier.
What challenges do you face in your job? No day’s the same. All the students get to know their own Matron and many enjoy popping by for a chat. However, there are days when students are upset and it’s my role to listen while providing a supportive and safe environment for them to talk it through. I’ll do anything for them.
What qualifications do you need for this job? To comply with SSSC registration I completed the SVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care, Children and Young People. At first I found the training quite hard, but with the continued support of my colleagues, we worked through the course together and ended up having a good laugh. Now that I’m qualified, I’m glad I’ve done it, it’s something that I’ve achieved. I’m lucky that Gordonstoun School encourages personal development, not just for the pupils but also for the staff. If I see a course, I only have to request to attend. Qualifications are important in demonstrating the quality of the staff. We are responsible for the pupils, we have to work together to make sure their time here, and afterwards, is fulfilled.
Can you explain who else is on your team? As the Matron, I am directly responsible to the Housemistress and, in her absence, the Assistant House Mistress. Six tutors also support the pastoral team. Although the team work closely on all matters relating to the running of the House and its pupils, the Housemistress is responsible for taking the final decision.
What part of your job motivates you and why? The girls, I love the relationship I have with them. Even after they have left the school, many still stay in touch, visiting if they happen to be in the area. I recently received an email titled – Happy Mothers’ Day to my second mother.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Job satisfaction and helping people.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Good personal interactive skills with young people and their parents and guardians by being caring, patient, a good listener with an ability to show empathy. Having a flexible outlook is also important. Although I always have a list of jobs that need to be completed, the students always come first. I don’t class my job as work, I love it so much.
What training and development opportunities have you undertaken while in your current job? If there’s a course available and I’m able to attend, I’ll usually put my name down eg fire training, first aid or other.
How do you see your career progressing? Not being teaching staff, if I wanted to progress I would probably need to move to another school. I have great job satisfaction in the role I do and I am happy to stay at Gordonstoun School for the foreseeable future.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? The role requires commitment and hard work but can be rewarding with great job satisfaction.

 

Family support

'I believe working in any job within social services is important.'

Andrea-Maria McGowan, Senior Family Development Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

 Andrea-Maria really enjoys her job and says that working in social services is one of the best jobs you could ever have.

What type of service do you work in?

I work for the Quarriers Together We Can Service. The service is a Public Social Partnership made up of a variety of different agencies including Children 1st, Barnardo’s, North Ayrshire Council, Women’s Aid, NHS, The Breastfeeding Network, and the Ayrshire Community Trust.

The service support families with children prebirth to five for six months providing individualised support that suits the family including behaviour management, practical skills and routines.

Our service support families with addictions, domestic abuse issues or any other vulnerability including mental health issues. 

Have you always worked in social services? Yes, I left school and went to college to complete my HNC in Childcare. From there I went to university to complete my degree in Education and Social Services. Afterwards I began working with adults with disabilities and in social care for the past six years. 
What made you choose the career you have now?

My parents were foster carers so I grew up in a busy household working with children from a variety of different backgrounds including domestic abuse and addictions and I could see the impact it had on them.

When a job for Together We Can came up, I went for it. At that time I was working as a bank Family Development Worker. I wanted to be involved in the early intervention and prevention services. Our service aims to help children and families before they reach crisis and help prevent the children from being taken into care. After working within the service for nine months the opportunity to become the senior arose. 

Can you tell us more about your job?

It is my job to directly supervise three family development workers as well as supporting a few families.

My job role includes supervising, helping and guiding staff. I deal with child protection concerns and help support staff through the process, I work with individual families and help the project manager with the day to day running of the service ie meetings, budgets, reports.

What are you working on at the moment? Currently our project is going through a merger and tender process. This means our service is merging with another Quarriers Family Support Service in order to be funded for next year. A large part of my role is supporting my staff and with this includes helping them work with the other team and become comfortable with each other. I also have to ensure that the families feel comfortable with the change in the service. Another part of the merger process is gathering evidence and information. This includes writing reports for funders, gathering statistics, writing case studies and ensuring outside organisations understand the service and the vital role we play in supporting our families. 
Who else is in your team? My team consists of three family development workers, a project manager and an administrator. 
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? As a family support service we work with a wide range of professionals including health visitors, early intervention social worker, children and families social workers, service access teams, other family support services, Women’s Aid, criminal justice, addiction service and early education staff and many others. 
What part of your job motivates you and why? I really enjoy my job and there are many different things that motivate me. I think the biggest motivator has to be the difference our service can make to individual families. As part of my job I regularly speak to families who have worked with the service. When they tell me the difference it has made to them, even the smallest change and the impact that has made to a family as a whole. 
What are the best bits about your job?

Similar to what motivates me, the best bit of my job is the families we support. I am passionate about helping others and having that chance to see where a family starts and where they want to be at the end of the service.

I also say the best part of my job is “hugging babies”. I enjoy seeing the children and the difference that we can make to them. The children are the most important part of what we do, as they are our future and helping the families now will help them develop and grow and hopefully help them parent their own children in a supportive and loving way. 

What are the challenges that you face in your job? My job can be very busy and this can be a challenge but I think the biggest challenge is overcoming barriers with some of our families. As a service many of our families can be suspicious of us and feel that we will have their children removed rather than support them. At times barriers cannot be removed and the family will not work with service which can be frustrating as I know my staff will do everything they can to ensure the families are supported in the best way to suit them. I think it will take a lot more work to remove the stigma of any service intervention for many of our families but over time I hope this perception will change. 
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I believe working in any job within social services is important. When I worked with adults with disabilities I always said we were in the most privileged position, as we were spending time in people homes, we were part of their lives and could make a positive difference. I think this applies to all jobs within social services as we are working with people and impacting in on their lives. I believe seeing a positive difference is the biggest reward you will ever get and knowing that you are there when people need you the most, when they are at their most vulnerable is a truly rewarding place to be. 
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? There are many skills and qualities you need to work with children and families. You need to be caring, empathetic, non-judgemental. You need to be able to observe a situation and assess what is happening. You need to understand how people think and behave and also you need to enjoy what you do and work with other as part of a team. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Since starting this job I have been on many different training courses teaching me about a variety of different aspects of my job such as child protection, addiction, mental health, working with victims of domestic abuse, recognising the signs of domestic abuse, child development, understanding behaviour and so many more. Working in the children and families sector provides continuous learning and development. It is an interesting field with so much to learn from. The job itself is ever changing and developing which is important in this line of work. 
How do you see your career progressing? I enjoy working for Quarriers and have done so for six years. I have recently started as a senior and hope this will develop further. I am unsure how I see my career progressing as there are many avenues I am exploring in terms of what’s next. I sometimes consider progressing in managing children services and sometimes I consider moving into social work. The field is so vast that it will allow me so many opportunities in the future. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would tell them that working in social services is one of the best jobs you could ever have. I would explain that although we cannot offer high wages like other careers but the positive difference you can make to people is far more rewarding than financial gain. It is a great experience and will teach you so many different things and allow you so many different opportunities. 

 

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