Birmingham – new service to deliver change at the Edge of Care

A feature sponsored by Birmingham City Council

At Birmingham City Council, we are working hard to rebuild our reputation for delivering high quality social work support to the city’s most disadvantaged children and families. Central to our vision is the belief that good social work can help families make the changes necessary to care for their children well and meet their needs. We know that is no easy challenge. It requires strong leadership, high skill levels, confidence and motivation. So we are investing in resources, services and people.

Doing things differently – and better – means actively embracing the new. Edge of Care is an innovative new service with a clear aim: to safely prevent and reduce the number of children and young people entering care in our city.

We appreciate that, when it comes to the possibility of family breakdown, ‘cure’ is every bit as important as prevention.  We are committed to supporting children to remain within their family wherever possible. But our primary purpose is to ensure that children are protected from significant harm and their development and wellbeing are promoted. That is why support and risk management is integral to our new approach.

Intervening, listening, enabling and supporting

We have introduced an evidence-based, crisis intervention model. Teams provide direct intensive support to young people aged 11 – 18 and their families, usually over a period of 4 – 12 weeks. Their goal is to help families make significant, positive changes. They do this by building on each family’s strengths and introducing coping strategies.

Our social workers and family support workers specialise in engaging young people and their families to defuse crises within the home. The Edge of Care approach combines practical support with strong challenge, to address complex and enduring needs.

Working openly with families, team members assess problems, develop measurable goals and help the whole family acquire the skills necessary to achieve them. As agents of change, team members focus on solutions, taking an enabling approach underpinned by careful planning. Edge of Care teams also work closely with other agencies and local services.

A broad spectrum of real change

Edge of Care cases span a wide range of issues. These include family conflict, absence from home, sexual exploitation and substance abuse. The opportunities to make a difference are broad and deeply rewarding – from helping young people and families control their anger, to improving attainment at school; from encouraging better communication, to reducing missing from home episodes. This is an approach that improves behaviours, relationships, confidence, aspiration, employability, living conditions and mental and physical health.

The people who make all the difference

We are recruiting to a range of Edge of Care roles including team managers, senior practitioners and project workers. It is an opportunity to join a caring community. As social worker Siobhan Patton says, “What makes the council so special is that it attracts some of the most selfless and committed people who genuinely care.” She adds, “I feel very proud to be part of Birmingham City Council.”

There are certain qualities we look for in Edge of Care professionals. These include experience of going into homes in an emergency, working supportively with families to help them stay together. The ability to stay calm and be a reassuring presence at times of crisis is vital. Experience of helping people to change their behaviour is also important. Because ours is a responsive service, we expect everyone in Edge of Care to be able to work flexibly, including some evenings and weekends.

In return, we promise to support our people as change agents by providing good management, reflective and enabling supervision, and ongoing learning opportunities for professional development. This will all begin with training in the evidence-based, Edge of Care crisis intervention model.

To find out more about social work in Birmingham, including Edge of Care careers, visit: where you can also apply for current vacancies.

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