Jersey: UK social worker Bellwood ‘bullied’ by line manager

A UK social worker who ran a secure unit in Jersey has alleged he was “bullied and harassed” by his line manager.

Simon Bellwood, who is claiming unfair dismissal from his job at the Greenfields secure unit on the island, told an employment tribunal yesterday how his relationship with his line manager Joe Kennedy “deteriorated”.

Giving evidence yesterday, Bellwood said he found Kennedy “overpowering” and claimed he had not been given the supervision he requested.

The social worker, who was previously manager of a local authority secure children’s home in Essex, told the tribunal he “felt like an elastic band being pulled in every direction”.

Bellwood began work as centre manager of Greenfields in August 2006, after which he criticised a system of putting children in solitary confinement, known as grand prix.

He also put in a formal complaint against Kennedy, but neither complaint was upheld. Bellwood was dismissed in May last year on the grounds of incapability.

The social worker told the tribunal that he was working “in excess of a 70-hour week” and felt “absolutely exhausted” in the job at Greenfields.

“I was in a position of feeling constantly criticised for anything and everything – on the one hand I was being told to develop policies, and on the other to be on the shop floor with young people,” he said.

Bellwood changed the grand prix system but said Kennedy “failed to understand” his behaviour management policy.

Bellwood said the system of solitary confinement put in place at Greenfields by Kennedy was “unlawful” and conflicted with his training.

He told the tribunal on Monday that he had introduced another policy that was about “recognising and rewarding positive behaviour”.

Bellwood yesterday disputed Kennedy’s criticism of him as “argumentative and disrespectful.”

He admitted he had “challenged” Kennedy but said he had been “at a loss how to remedy the situation”.

Bellwood alleged Kennedy had compiled a list of evidence against him to “to use to my detriment and to his advantage”.

Over the next fortnight, the Jersey employment tribunal will hear evidence from witnesses and Bellwood’s former employer the States of Jersey.

Mike Pollard, chief executive of health and social services for the States of Jersey, told the tribunal he wanted to “make sure the truth is known”.

The tribunal continues.

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