Why I Love My Job – Hugh Thornbery

I fell into social work accidentally. I was working in a
climbing shop. Then someone came in to buy 30 pairs of boots and
wanted to know if anyone was interested in taking young offenders
climbing. I volunteered and that is how I became interested in
social work, joining the profession 18 months later.

I get most satisfaction when I feel I’m making a difference. In
the past this was developing young people’s potential, now it’s
contributing to the development of staff and influencing and
developing strategy and policy.
I enjoy the mental challenge of thinking through complex issues and
the level of responsibility I carry gives me a healthy level of
stress without which I would become very bored.

I manage a budget that’s over £25m. My wife Rita thinks
this is highly amusing given my cavalier approach to family
finances and only passing maths ‘O’ level at the second attempt. I
thought this would be the bit that kept me awake at night when I
took on the director’s job but it’s not. It’s the small but
important things like not giving a colleague enough of your time
when so much is going on or the thoughtless remark that keeps me

There is always a risk with a job like mine that you get
disconnected from the reason we all go into social work. The most
powerful reminder recently was our regional staff conference when
nearly 100 colleagues were treated to the most amazing drama and
musical performance by young people involved with our Birmingham
young carers service.

Moving to the voluntary sector in 1993 reinvigorated my career.
It suits me. I can’t see myself returning to the statutory sector,
but who knows?


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