People in social care talk about the reality of their role
Ruth Dalzell is family support manager at the charity National Children’s Bureau.
Job description: Taking a strategic lead on developing our work on family support for children at risk of social exclusion. Identifying areas for development and designing projects and activities and securing funding.
Skills/qualifications needed: I am a qualified social worker.
What’s your job like? I manage a small staff team of development officers/consultants engaged in delivering practice development projects. This involves supervision, chairing or attending project reference groups, managing the finances of the projects and reporting to funders. Also, overseeing the development of any products or publications from projects.
I always need to think ahead about how we can promote better outcomes for children in families at risk of social exclusion by developing new work and seeking funding. This may involve me in discussions with colleagues in other organisations as we work in partnership with others whenever possible. I also look for opportunities to influence policy by responding to government consultations and joining policy influencing groups or forums.
The funding arena for the voluntary sector is extremely competitive. Completing funding applications is very time consuming and the outcome uncertain. This is the only real downside to the job.
I run the planning for children network at the bureau, which is a seminar programme twice a year for planners and managers of children’s services. It aims to keep them abreast of recent developments. The last two years have been a time of great change so the programme has been interesting and events well attended. Setting up the programme usually requires emailing senior civil servants asking them to speak at the events and on the whole they respond very positively.
I also organise occasional training courses arising from project work or seminars relevant to the area of family support, such as a seminar I organised recently on supporting very vulnerable families. This involved seeking out good practice examples for workshops and identifying recruiting and briefing speakers.
I also run our internal child protection training.