60 seconds with…Amy Gordon, newly qualified social worker, Kent County Council
What do you like most about being a Kent social worker?
Kent is very supportive. The way managers approach working with us makes people feel confident in their practice. Our office is open plan so our managers are not in an office with the door closed. You can go and chat to them whenever. They are there to support you.
How does having that support on tap help?
The nature of social work is that things could be going very smoothly and then there is a crisis, so it’s always helpful to be able to approach management for impromptu supervision or to talk through cases. We also have regular supervision where we tease out cases but we also examine how I’m doing because social work can be a draining job. What I really like about Kent is that they take an interest in you as a person, not just the case.
“What I really like about Kent is that they take an interest in you as a person, not just the case”
How do social work teams work in Kent?
It used to be that we had a specific duty team and then longer term teams, but now, to give service users consistency, we work across the board. So we see cases from the beginning to the end, from referral right through to court, if that’s where it goes. That develops your experience because you learn a lot of new skills and get to work in different arenas, but the biggest thing is that it means service users are not getting different social workers at each stage and you can build those meaningful relationships.
What are caseloads like in Kent?
At the moment caseloads are higher than what they usually are in our team but what’s important is that we get additional support when things are more hectic. I think in some local authorities there is a lack of recognition of when people are doing more work and there isn’t that support to help you cope with the extra work.
“We get additional support when things are more hectic”
Kent has embraced the Signs of Safety approach. What difference is it making?
Signs of Safety is about also looking at the strengths of our service users because they do have strengths that can help them out of the situations they are in. It is a really nice way to think through cases. It’s particularly useful when doing direct work with service users because it gets rid of the professional jargon and makes it easy for them to follow, so they become more involved in making their plans, which are then going to be more effective because they are signing up to it. It’s a great tool.
Kent is a very big and diverse county. Do you feel connected to senior management?
Philip Segurola, our director of specialist children’s services, is great and really, really involved in the service. He makes a point of coming to all the different districts, meeting the social workers and keeping us informed. You do feel like you can approach senior managers here. It’s that open door culture. You feel like you do build relationships with senior management here. I’ve never had that before working here.