…without feeling passionately about a lot of things. I come from a generation of old hippies who can be switched on to strong opinions about social justice.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
It must be Professor Peter Townsend with his views on the impact of poverty and how it blights the lives of children. He so clearly articulated the inter-relationship of housing, health, income, education and environment and how together these affect life chances and quality of lives now and in the future.
What motivates you most?
I thrive on regular motivational “top-ups” at the FWA. Last week’s main motivator was a former FWA service user. She was brought up in care, had a succession of brutal partners and has three children. A year ago her family was living on benefits in a homeless hostel, and she was feeling as low as she could. She joined the FWA’s “Freedom Programme” for women living with domestic violence, and then volunteered to help other women. Only one year later she has a home, her children are happy and she has just started working with the FWA as a family support worker. What little help some people need to transform their lives.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I like to think I listen to others, develop the vision and then motivate and inspire others to achieve it. I am good at planning and strategy and making creative ideas work. But, like a lot of people in the voluntary sector my passion comes with a streak of anarchy so I always allow room for flexibility.
How do you get your own way?
I marshall all my arguments and recognise quickly when I’m wrong. Old hippies don’t sulk.
What is the secret of leading change in a major organisation?
Having a vision and the enthusiasm to inspire the organisation to achieve it. Recognising the importance of listening to staff, they have creative ideas and will deliver the change.
What is the single biggest danger facing social care?
As a profession we don’t read enough to learn from others and we don’t have enough aspiration for our service users. I fear for the many families that the FWA helps who have complex needs spanning health, adult and children’s services. There is nothing like re-organisations and budget constraints for creating silo thinking.