Welcome to Surrey County Council’s Employer Profile. Here you can find out more about the teams, the leadership, the pay and benefits as well as the council’s approach to social work before deciding if they are the right employer for you.
Surrey has just received an improved rating from Ofsted, which you can read about here.
Meet the director
Rachael Wardell, Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning
“I believe that the greatest change is achieved when we convene around two core principles: that children belong with their families and, if that is not possible, then we hold those children close to us, as close as our own children.
“That might sound nebulous because it’s not hard KPIs or a target Ofsted rating but that’s because those core principles look different for different children. For some it’s being able to go to the same school as their brothers and sisters; for others it’s not having to travel so far for support or accessing community resources that didn’t exist before.
“It’s about us knowing each child, knowing what the right outcome looks like to them and then us taking responsibility to do everything we can to help them achieve that.”
Watch this video or read this article to find out more about Rachael’s vision for Surrey. You can also find out about the work she and colleagues put in to achieve Surrey’s improved Ofsted rating here.
Meet the teams
Social workers in the family resilience and safeguarding department will work in assessment teams or family safeguarding teams.
Assessment teams use motivational approaches, such as motivational interviewing, to engage with both the family and the network supporting them. They work to understand the presenting worries and determine whether a statutory social work service is required.
The family safeguarding teams use the family safeguarding model, first developed in Hertfordshire. Specialist support workers such as those working in drug and alcohol misuse, domestic violence and mental health are embedded within the children’s services department. They are available for advice or to co-work cases with children’s social workers.
Matt Ansell, Director for Family Resilience and Safeguarding
“I firmly believe in understanding the strengths that exist within families and their networks, and ensuring that the children and young people we support are heard, listened to and provided with the relevant interventions they need to ensure they have happy, secure and safe childhoods that lead them into their adult lives.”
Justice Nyamutowa, Advanced Social Worker, Family Safeguarding
“Within the family safeguarding model it feels like we are working with families and alongside families. Previously we tried to do things to them, to solve their problems for them. But now we empower them and give them the tools to help them solve their own problems and bring about lasting change.”
Anna Want, Senior Drug and Alcohol Worker, Family Safeuarding
“We’ve all been assigned to a team of social workers and we support them in their work with families where there is an issue to do with substance and alcohol use. Our aim is to respond more quickly and with greater understanding to these issues and this helps us support the family as a whole. All of us work to keep families together and recognise their strengths.”
Social workers in the corporate parenting department work either in the children looked after team, the disabilities team, the unaccompanied asylum seeking children team or work with adoptive parents, foster parents and staff working in residential care.
Social workers have a mixed caseload of children aged between 0-18 and work with them to maintain health, happiness and gain independence. The Mockingbird model is in place to improve support for foster carers in their local area.
Tina Benjamin, Director for Corporate Parenting
“We understand that not all young people are the same but they all deserve outstanding services. We value relationships with children, young people and their families but also with all those professionals and staff who are supporting them. Our young people have told us that their social workers should be kind, dependable, honest and open so that’s what we’re striving to be.”
Emily Holloway, Social Worker (ASYE), Children Looked After Team
“The reason I wanted to come to Surrey was I had heard how good the ASYE support is here. I have two professional support networks – my team in the LAC department but also the Social Work Academy here. We have regular learning days within the Academy and are given a day each month of protected time to work on our ASYE portfolio. I think the approach here in Surrey, of working with the whole family, is much better and really aligns with my own personal values and social work ethics.”
Natasha Gunner, Team Manager, North West Children Looked After Team
“I manage four social workers and have line management responsibility for their cases. Day-to-day I will supervise and mentor those members of staff as well as chair and attend panel meetings. I think we are all valued and our hard work is recognised which is really important for staff wellbeing. We have the Employee Assistance Programme which provides independent personal and work support and includes everything from counselling to legal advice. It’s a really good resource to have.”
Colin Morley, Senior Social Worker, South East Children with Disabilities Team
“I work with families on their strength and resilience because we can’t be there eight hours a day helping and supporting them. So, it’s looking at what we can set up around the child to help the family no matter what their situation or need. Support from managers has greatly improved. I feel they’re taking a real interest in children with disabilities; that they really understand the pressures on the families and want to support them more. That’s made life a lot easier for us as a team. We feel listened to and supported.”
In Surrey the Independent Reviewing Officer and Child Protection Conference Chair role is combined and is referred to as the Independent Chair. The Independent Chair is an experienced social worker with oversight of both child protection plans and looked-after children plans. They are independent of the line management of cases and they act as a confident advocate for children, holding the network to account. The quality assurance function of the Independent Reviewing Service ensures children’s wishes and feelings are given full consideration and notes those areas of good social work practice as well any areas that need improvement.
Patricia Denney, Director for Children’s Quality Assurance
“In Surrey we believe that we are all responsible for knowing and understanding the quality and impact of our practice. Leaders, managers and staff at all levels must understand a child’s experience of our services so that we challenge practice and improve all the time. That’s why we are constantly striving to know ourselves better, what’s working and what we need to change in order to improve.”
Jocelyn Reynolds, Independent Chair
“The [combined] role here in Surrey has a lot of benefits. If I’m working with a child subjected to a child protection plan, and who subsequently becomes ‘looked-after’, then I can stay with that child throughout their journey. I came to Surrey as a locum social worker and stayed because I was supported to progress onto team manager and then encouraged to go further. I decided to take this role because, unlike other management roles, you get to work closely with children. I think it’s a fabulous role and it’s very flexible.”
Approach to social work
'It feels like we're really flying now'
'Being kinder to ourselves and our workforce'
Giving social workers the time and tools for change
Asylum-seeking children: ‘Here you feel people care’
Podcast: How do you help children who cannot speak?
Listen to experts from Surrey’s children with disabilities team discuss some of the challenges and highlights of their work and demystify this specialist field of children’s social work. Listen to the podcast on Community Care or find it on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Working in Surrey
Head office located in Woking, close to the train station and bus stops. Areas covered include Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Woking.
Assistant director: Jo Moses.
Teams include family safeguarding, LAC and leaving care, assessment, targeted youth support.
Head office located in Walton-On-Thames close to Walton train station, the A3 and M25. Areas covered include Elmbridge, Epsom, Ewell and Spelthorne.
Assistant director: Juliette Blake.
Teams include children with disabilities, family safeguarding, LAC and leaving care, assessment, targeted youth support.
Head office located in Guildford and the office has free parking. Areas covered include Guildford and the borough of Waverley.
Assistant director: Siobhan Walsh.
Teams include family safeguarding, LAC and leaving care, assessment, targeted youth support.
Head office located in Redhill, close to the train station, the M25 and M23. Areas covered include Tandridge, Reigate, Banstead and Mole.
Assistant director: Sam Bushby.
Teams include family safeguarding, LAC and leaving care, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, assessment, targeted youth support.
Want to know more?
If you’re interested in finding out more about working at Surrey simply register your interest, or email email@example.com. If you’re interested in working in a particular regional area then use these specific registration links – north west quadrant, north east quadrant, south east quadrant, south west quadrant.