Workforce Insights

    North East Lincolnshire

    In the spotlight

    How staff support ensures fantastic outcomes for children and families

    Photo: North East Lincolnshire Council
    Photo: North East Lincolnshire Council

    The new director of children’s services at North East Lincolnshire shares her priorities and the positive steps that have already been made

    “In order for practice to thrive and meet children’s needs, you have to have a highly skilled, stable and consistent workforce across the whole of a children’s service,” says Ann-Marie Matson, the new director of children’s services at North East Lincolnshire Council.

    Since assuming the role in mid-December 2023, Ann-Marie has successfully recruited a permanent senior leadership team, including a team of service directors, deputy service directors, service leads and a principal social worker.

    She is actively recruiting to frontline practice supervisor roles, while also ushering in a revamped programme that prioritises career progression for social workers.

    “Workforce has been a huge focus for us over the last three months to ensure that frontline practitioners benefit from high quality supervision, management oversight and compassionate leadership,” she says. “Compassionate, relational leadership is key to ensuring that staff feel safe and supported to thrive in their practice.

    “That’s really important for me because, in my experience, if staff feel safe and supported, we can create the environment for practice to be reflected upon and that helps to achieve improved outcomes for children and families.”

    Ann-Marie, DCS North East Lincolnshire Council

    Ann-Marie, DCS North East Lincolnshire Council

    Our children – our future

    Ann-Marie, who started her social work career in North East Lincolnshire and also has a personal connection with the community, knows only too well the importance of creating positive outcomes for children and families.

    She has worked in children’s services for over 25 years, including in leadership roles for a local authority rated outstanding by Ofsted.

    “I was acutely aware of the challenges that children and families were facing in North East Lincolnshire and wanted to help to contribute to creating sustainable change in this fantastic community,” she says.

    As part of that change, Ann-Marie is leading on key priorities within the council’s 2024-25 plan and its vision for children, young people and their families, Our children, our future.

    The vision has been developed by children, young people and professionals living and working in North East Lincolnshire. It sets out an ambition for the local authority to continue to work with partners, including local schools, community groups and charities, to maintain strong and effective support for children and families.

    Other aspects of the vision include ensuring that children have the best start in life and a happy healthy, fun childhood; they are safe from harm and enjoy growing up in loving, caring homes, and are listened to, involved in the decisions on their future and respected.

    There is also a focus on education, training and practice development across the workforce, to ensure managers and staff are supported to fulfil their roles and offer support to children, young people and families.

    North East Lincolnshire’s Immingham Family Hub

    Positive steps

    Just a few months into her leadership, North East Lincolnshire’s most recent Ofsted monitoring visit highlights some of the positive steps that have already been made.

    Stability in the workforce is starting to improve with some children in care now benefiting from a more consistent social work response.

    And the council has also been able to achieve smaller caseloads, helping social workers to visit families and carers more frequently and complete meaningful direct work with children.

    In addition, under the council’s sufficiency strategy, work is progressing to recruit and retain more foster carers to ensure local children can be looked after within North East Lincolnshire.

    Focus on children

    The needs of children are central to the council’s longer-term plans, and Ann-Marie is clear that these plans must be informed by the voices and experiences of children themselves.

    Children in care and care leavers are involved in the council’s corporate parenting board, which is being chaired by a care leaver, and they are also involved in other decision-making forums. Direct work is taking place with children in care and care leavers to strengthen the council’s offer, she adds.

    “I’ve met directly with children to understand how their voice can influence and shape practice, building voice and experience into induction in training and recruitment programmes and recruitment of our foster carers.

    “The first meeting we had we listened and heard their experience of what practice is like and one of the first things we’ve done is turned this into an induction programme for new starters. So, children are now directly and actively shaping and leading the questions from a children’s perspective about what is important for them and what a good social worker looks like,” says Ann-Marie.

    Benefits

    • Competitive salary – up to 40 days’ leave entitlement including bank holidays (subject to length of service)
    • Enrolment into a local government pension
    • Flexible working, including part-time opportunities
    • Excellent training and development opportunities
    • Fostering friendly scheme

    Access to the council’s exclusive RewardNEL platform, which includes:

    • Cycle2Work
    • Holiday Extra salary sacrifice scheme to provide staff with extra holiday
    • Tusker (car lease salary sacrifice scheme)
    • Discounts at local coffee shops and bars
    • Direct access to inhouse wellbeing support
    • Discounted car parking
    • Instant access to new savings at major retailers, entertainment and hotels

    Choosing a career at North East Lincolnshire

    If you want to know more about a career at visit the council’s jobs and careers page, which will show you the roles currently available.