‘There’s a real feeling things have turned around’

Danielle Lane, a team manager at Sandwell Children's Services, explains why becoming a social work manager was the best decision she's made

There's a real feeling things have turned around

What makes a good social worker?

A good social worker is child-focused while being able to communicate and develop strong relationships with families. They are enthusiastic and committed to achieving positive change and must also be a team player, able to support colleagues, particularly in difficult times.

What inspires you most?

Making a difference. However small the change we can achieve, if it has a positive influence on the life of a child it is a good outcome.

How could the government improve social work?

It could review its spending cuts to early intervention. Many children and their families benefit from these services and they can reduce the level of demand on social care services. Also, the government could promote a more positive reputation for children’s social care. We rarely see any recognition of the hard work and positive changes achieved.

What keeps you awake at night?

While the safety and wellbeing of children has to be our priority, we obviously have to be mindful of resources, particularly in the current economic climate. When there are really high levels of demand this can cause a few sleepless nights. Thankfully, it’s not a regular occurrence.

What is it like working in Sandwell?

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over recent years but I think there’s now a real feeling things have turned around. We’ve got a partnership with iMPOWER and have made some big changes with more just around the corner. As for Sandwell itself, it’s a great place to work, largely because the people are down to earth. It’s also right next door to Birmingham with all its shops, restaurants, etc..

How would your staff describe you?

My team say I’m a good communicator, down-to-earth and organised, and yes, I did ask them! They feel I am approachable, proactive and resourceful, and back their independence and decision-making so they can reflect on their cases and identify their own solutions.

What is the toughest decision you have made?

Social work with children and families is demanding and we are often managing complex and adversarial situations. Some of the toughest decisions are the day-to-day ones I make with my team where we are managing the risk posed to children as well as supporting colleagues to manage their feelings in response to a case.
What is the best decision you have made?

The best decision I have made personally is going into management. It has let me maintain some level of engagement with children and their families, through supporting my team in meetings and in court, but it has also given me the opportunity to support and develop the team.

Would you like to work in the Midlands? Find out more by reading our social work careers guide.

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