Head of Strategy and Operations (West)
I qualified as a social worker in 1979 after doing a four year degree in Social Sciences and a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work. In those days, students completed two placements in social work settings (in my case in a social work team and in the Inner London Probation service) plus a placement in a residential setting – this for me was working in an assessment centre for teenage boys.
After qualifying I worked in a social work team on individual case work and community work. There was a lot to learn from colleagues and managers but a limited training pathway so after a few years I decided to do a two-year, part-time MA in Sociology and Social Policy.
I also became an approved social worker under the Mental Health Act (the equivalent of being an Adult Mental Health Practitioner or AMHP), which involved a six week placement in a psychiatric hospital which was really interesting.
Eventually I became a Senior Practitioner (after 6 years as a Social Worker) and 11 years after qualifying, moved to Hampshire just as the Children Act 1989 was coming into force and staff had to decide what they wanted to specialise in. I chose to work with children and families.Over the years the job has become more and more specialised, as well as more complex, with greater scrutiny from Central Government and social work itself becoming a registered profession. I am lucky to work in a local authority that encourages staff at all levels to keep on learning and to be self-analytical. I have held posts in different parts of the service and the County and was able to take three years to complete a secondment to Government Office, which was extremely insightful. My heart is in local authority social work, so I am delighted to be working in Hampshire with such great colleagues, all who are totally committed to learning and development and above all doing the best for children and families.