Judging by the ADCS twitter feed and the DfE website ‘World Social Work Day' was not only a cause for celebration but it was being celebrated up and down the land. As was the case in many local authorities it was a chance to pause, draw breath and reflect on the amazing opportunities being a social worker presents.
One of our young people was featured on the DfE website saying thank you to her social worker - a remarkable young lady thanking a remarkable professional. Locally, we took the opportunity to present awards to social workers who had been identified by their peers and foster carers for going the extra mile. Later in the evening we had our annual recruitment fair for those completing their social work training who have the opportunity to speak to the folk who were in their position last year, to talk to team managers about what they can expect and to hear a little from me and my counterpart in adult services.
Again, despite the stresses and strains, and there are many, what came out was the sense of excitement and passion from the staff as they talked about being social workers in general and being social workers in East Sussex in particular. What stood out, and it's no surprise, was the importance of team, the need to give and receive support, whenever and wherever. Talking to those who will be joining our profession it was clear it will be in safe hands, the desire to make a difference in the lives of our children and young was clear to see along with the trepidation that comes with stepping out of university and fully into the workplace. Again, they spoke of the support they received and often a desire to return to the team that had provided their placement.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it all left me reflecting on being in their position in the 1980s. Driving home that evening I decided that given my time over I would do it all again. This was confirmed later in the week when I was out on a social work visit and saw first-hand the remarkable change great social work can bring about, in one case keeping two children with their parents and enabling them to thrive from a very shaky beginning and, in another, supporting a young boy to remain in his extended family. Walking back from the visit the social worker told me she had worked in East Sussex for 14 years and couldn't think of anything she would rather be.
It is right and proper that we have a point in the year to celebrate our great profession but it should not be an excuse for not looking for examples to celebrate every week whilst also recognising the work of the wider children's workforce, as it will only be by doing this will the public get a true understanding of the remarkable work that goes on day in, day out, in every part of the country.
Stuart Gallimore is director of children's services in East Sussex. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website