Investing in the future of Coventry’s children

A feature sponsored by Coventry City Council

At Coventry City Council, we’re making a dynamic move to change the face of social care. For too long, talented professionals have been frustrated by disjointed facilities, workloads that are overwhelming and a lack of cohesion in the service, meaning that vulnerable children and families in need were at risk of slipping through the net.

But thanks to a considerable investment in the service – both financial and intellectual – those days are a thing of the past. And now we’re ready to improve our care provision even further, by taking on new team members who share our commitment to providing a first-class service. It’s a hugely exciting time for us, and we’re hopeful that our new way of thinking will prove inspirational to other UK councils too.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been talking to current employees – and those who have already left our employment – about their thoughts on the services we offer. They told us what they’d change about social care in Coventry, what they needed to make their jobs better, and what we could do to work more efficiently.

One thing that became very clear was that they wanted to work in partnership with each other, other agencies in the city and particularly their managers – for the latter point in particular, they wanted to know that they were being listened to and their ideas were being taken on board. Therefore, we’ve put a new leadership structure in place that will ensure we’re always on the same page – from uniting our efforts to make sure children are receiving the full care and attention they deserve, to helping our colleagues succeed in whatever they want to achieve in their careers, we’re committed to making sure those at managerial level back their teams 100%.

Keeping paperwork to a minimum

The other biggest cause for concern raised by the social workers we spoke to was lack of resources – they felt generally overstretched with casework, they were spending too much time filling out forms and doing paperwork and they felt they needed more multi-agency support. We couldn’t agree more, which is why we’re now in the middle of a large recruitment push, so that our social workers will have fewer cases to deal with and more time to spend with those who need them the most. A centralised administrative hub has been created to keep their paperwork to a bare minimum, and we’ve worked hard to generate an extensive multi-agency support network that will cater for every need.

Essentially, an operational-level safeguarding group that will act on concerns quickly and efficiently has also been set up, meaning our social work teams are now in the enviable position of being at the forefront of a trailblazing organisation. Specifically, it’s a comprehensive training programme on Signs of Safety for colleagues at all levels. This child-centred risk-management framework is a solution-based model incorporating a range of principles, disciplines, processes and tools that guide social work, making sure early intervention is possible for children at risk. It’s a model we’re hugely proud of, and one that we’d be delighted to see being mimicked by other councils.

Part of our commitment to keep listening to what our teams are telling us involves fair rates of pay. We know that social workers put their heart and soul into their jobs, and it’s only right that we reflect that in what they take home at the end of the month. We are therefore offering packages that include a competitive salary and a pension scheme. On top of that, we’re offering a relocation incentive for new starters up to the value of £8,000, HCPC registration and an extensive training programme to ensure ongoing professional development incorporating close links to universities.

Work/life balance

But we know that career satisfaction doesn’t just involve financial rewards (though it’s a great help!) so we also offer a family-friendly working environment and a commitment to a good work/life balance. A generous car-leasing facility should help too, as will a ‘wider wallet’ benefit scheme that offers discounts nationally and locally.

So how does this actually translate in real terms? Let’s talk hard cash! If you’re an experienced social worker with at least two years’ experience, you could join our referral and assessment service or our neighbourhood teams, and within a year you could be earning up to £40,000 (which includes a market related supplement of £5,000.)

We’re also pleased to offer a fair retention scheme meaning that our referral and assessment service and neighbourhood teams can continue to expect the £5,000 market related supplement in their second year of service

It’s because of these changes that we feel we’re offering a truly unique service that will make a dramatic difference to the lives of Coventry’s children. We’re putting care back where it belongs – in the hands of the social work teams who are dealing with these families and young people. We want you to be able to do the job you trained to do, and we’re dedicated to making sure you have everything on hand to make that happen. And of course, when you need back-up or guidance, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

If that sounds like a service you want to be involved in, then get in touch with us today. We’re recruiting for social workers, team managers, and service managers. We’re keen to hear from people who share our vision.

Social work has been hindered for too long by inadequate facilities, poor structure and lack of managerial support – we’re changing that for the better. Join us to see the future of social work in action – a future that promises great things.

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