What do you do and where do you come from?
I work as a manager in the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub or MASH for short, which is based in the Council House.
The MASH brings together partners from the Council, the Police and healthcare professionals in one place. Together, we aim to respond quickly and effectively to any risks that are reported to us about vulnerable children.
I’m originally from Derby and have worked for the Council since 2008 as a front-line
How did you end up in your current role?
I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to work with vulnerable children and my career to date has reflected that.
I graduated from the University of Derby with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood studies, before doing a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Nottingham.
I started with Derby City Council as a Children’s Social Worker in 2008. I then worked as a Senior Social Worker for four years, before taking on my current role in December 2015 as we prepared to launch the MASH.
So what exactly is the MASH and how is it different to what the Council has done before?
The MASH was launched in June. It brings together key people and information into one team.
Previously, when we received a report of someone at risk, the Council’s Reception Team would deal with the enquiry. We would immediately phone partners at the Police or in the NHS to get more information – but that could sometimes cause delays, meaning we couldn’t respond as quickly as we might like.
Now, with everyone based in one office, we can receive an enquiry, speak to our partners and be on our way to visit a vulnerable child within an hour.
What are some of the challenges of working with vulnerable children and how do you manage these on a daily basis?
When you respond to a report of a child at risk, you sometimes don’t know what you’re going to encounter. We can be dealing with anything from a minor injury to, in the most extreme circumstances, a death.
It sounds obvious, but you have to be emotionally resilient. The reality is that many front-line social workers move into other roles after around three years, because it’s difficult to deal with those situations every day.
For me, the key is to be passionate about your job and determined to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children. That’s what really keeps you going.
To avoid burning out, I make sure I keep a good balance between my work and my personal life. The job can be emotionally draining so you sometimes need to take time out to relax.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
It’s all about the outcomes we achieve and responding as quickly as possible to the risks that are identified each day. I work with hard-working and passionate people so it makes the tough situations we deal with that little bit easier.
No mater how tired or hungry I might be, going home each night knowing that I did everything I could to prevent a child being harmed is tremendously satisfying.
Do you feel well supported in your role?
Very much so. From the top to the bottom of the organisation, everyone is focused on the children we protect, so that does a lot for morale.
My Director is very supportive and takes a genuine interest in the work that we do. What is more, she understands the pressures that we face on a daily basis so is easy to approach if we have any concerns.
What message would you give to someone thinking of training as a social worker?
The first thing I would say is that it isn’t an easy role and requires a lot of dedication.
Sometimes social workers are unfairly perceived as people who take children away from their families. On top of that, social workers are expected to work long hours and don’t get paid large salaries.
But we do the job because we are all committed to keeping children safe. So if you’re truly passionate about protecting children and have the drive and determination to deal with the emotional challenges, I’d recommend it in an instant.