Careers in social care
Maggie Mellon is director, children and family services at Children 1st, the Royal Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
How long in the job? 18 months.
I didn’t get where I am today by: Planning it all in advance.
The best move I’ve ever made was: Deciding to be a community service volunteer working with children in care in Camden in London in 1972. It was my first experience of social work outside Scotland, and of London. And of working with children who were disproportionately from Irish or Caribbean backgrounds so it really opened my eyes to racism and inequality. Camden was a go-ahead social services department for its time and there was a sense of aiming higher rather than just accepting things.
Most inspiring people I have met: Many, many children and young people. But most of all my husband, Gary, who is clever, funny and kind, a great social worker, and now a doctor of philosophy despite being booted out of school at 15 to work in a carpet shop.
I aspire to: “Fail better” every time and never lose hope.
Most painful lesson I’ve learned at work: Sometimes you fail.
Me and my career
In Children 1st I get to do lots of things that I really care about. I love the challenge of leading a team of professional, committed and motivated staff and volunteers.
I enjoy strategic planning, building our work and influence. This means daily involvement in policy and campaigns, media work, and research and writing. I like to help attract funding and finding economies, which is really motivating for a good cause.
I enjoy working across national and local government, the charity and voluntary sector, with academics, campaigners and user groups in Scotland and across the UK and internationally.
I am never bored and always want to get on with each day. I don’t think I have been bored in more than thirty years in social work.
2004-now Director, children and family services, Children 1st
1999-2004 Head of public policy, NCH Scotland
1995-98 Principal officer, children and young people, planning and co-ordination, Lothian/Edinburgh Council
1997-1998 MSc Heriot Watt University
1988-1994 Children and families team manager and through and aftercare manager, London Borough of Haringey
1977-1984 Social worker, Lothian Council
1974-1977 Social work training
1972-1974 Residential work, London and Scotland