Welcome to Wokingham Borough Council Children’s Services. When we get involved in the life of a child, our priority is to make sure our social workers have the support, time and resources they need to provide an excellent quality of service – the kind of service we ourselves would wish to receive. Find out more about our teams, culture and area here.
MEET OUR LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
Adam Davis – Assistant Director Children’s Services (Social Care & Early Help)
I am a qualified social worker with almost 30 years of practice experience working in children’s social care. Prior to my move into management, my roles included residential care work in children’s homes and as a children’s social worker.
Following this, I progressed up through line and team management roles, to service leadership and now to assistant director of children’s social care.
My service area includes a range of statutory services: youth offending, MASH, front door assessment, long-term child in need and child protection, looked-after children, care leavers, fostering, children with disabilities and short breaks provision, and edge of care teams.
Across all of the teams in my area, we provide services to over 700 children. These services cover the full journey and age range from pre-birth to 25 years old for some of the borough’s most vulnerable children and young adults. I am responsible for universal and targeted preventative services, such as early help and children’s centres.
I want Wokingham to be a great place to work for our social care staff.
I want Wokingham to be a place where staff feel supported, safe, valued and able to develop their careers, and be proud of what they do in supporting children to achieve their potential. We are only as good as our staff at what we do.
Viki Elliot-King – Assistant Director Children’s Services (Strategic and Operational Delivery)
I have over 30 years’ experience working in a variety of organisations to support the health, wellbeing and achievement of children and young people. My career started at the World Health Organization in Geneva, supporting their child nutrition programmes in developing countries.
Since my return to the UK, I have worked in university leadership, in business development for a schools’ careers guidance organisation, and in local authority children’s services, supporting strategic and systems development.
Current projects in my portfolio include leading on our partnership with UNICEF to achieve child-friendly community status in Wokingham; developing our New Youth Council, and implementing the DFE’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme.
My remit also includes implementing our ambitious recruitment and retention strategy for social workers.
My passion is in creating the right environment for staff and partners to deliver excellent services which make a real difference to children, young people and their families.
Sal Thirlway – Assistant Director Children’s Services (Learning, Achievement & Partnerships)
My career started in youth and community work. After working for several local authorities in this area, I had the opportunity to manage a number of service areas within children’s services. I also held a county-wide role for youth work, teenage pregnancy reduction and NEET (young people not in education, employment or training) reduction.
I progressed into an assistant director role, first for early help then for early intervention and prevention. This role was part of a new leadership team that moved the children’s services out of a run of poor Ofsted judgments to a ‘good’ outcome.
I turned to interim consultancy for a short period, which brought me to Wokingham as service manager then latterly into my current permanent role of assistant director for learning, achievement and partnerships.
Learning, Achievement & Partnerships seeks to support children, young people and their families in relation to all life learning. We work with all schools to support good educational outcomes for all children and young people, particularly our most vulnerable learners.
It is a real cradle-to-grave directorate area that influences and impacts on Wokingham residents in a wide variety of ways to support Wokingham being a great place to live, learn and grow, and a great place to do business. We are always evolving to meet the needs of children and young people and of the education system we are part of.
We continue to develop new and innovative ways to support improvement and positive outcomes and are developing wider strategic alliances within the education system across Wokingham to future-proof both the place and role of the local authority with education for years to come.
Jasmine Grimshaw – Service Manager, Corporate Parenting
I started my employment with Manchester Education, working with children in a children’s home as a residential worker. I loved this job and was in it for 10 years, only leaving due to pregnancy and moving down south!
I became a support worker, working alongside health visitors undertaking development checks and working with children on developmental assessments. Following from this, I decided to undertake my social work training, qualified as a social worker and progressed through the roles into my current position as a service manager for corporate parenting.
My service area covers children looked after and care leavers (our Here4U team), the fostering service and our new edge of care (Compass) team. Within my service and all of children’s services at Wokingham, we ensure that children always remain central to everything that we do.
The long-term teams
The long-term teams work with children who are subject to child in need, child protection or child in care plans, where permanency plans are being developed. These teams are made up of a team manager, two assistant team managers, social workers and practice assistants.
– Olivia, a social worker in the long-term teams (Ambleside, Brambles & Conifers), says:
“Working within the long-term team enables you to have the privilege of supporting families and children from the beginning of their journey with social services to the end. I work alongside a fantastic group of colleagues who I learn from daily and am able to reach out to for peer support. My management team is proactive, supportive and are motivated to ensure that as a practitioner, I develop and learn so that I can fulfill my potential.”
Referral and assessment team
The referral and assessment team forms part of the front door for children’s services alongside the MASH team. They are the first point of contact for families in need. Working alongside the child, young person or family, the team make sure that the right kind of support is delivered at the right time.
The team is made up of a team manager, an assistant team manager, social workers and referral co-ordinators.
– Gemma, an ASYE social worker in the team, says:
“Duty triage and assessment is referred to as the ‘front door’, we are the first point of call to ensure the safety and safeguarding of the children within their homes.
We complete assessments, within a short timeframe, and work at a fast pace (which is something I enjoy). Luckily, the team that I work with are amazing at supporting each other and helping each other out and genuinely don’t think I would be able to do this job without them!”
The multi-agency safeguarding hub
The multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) forms part of the front door for children’s services alongside the referral and assessment team. They are the first point of contact for families in need.
Working alongside the child, young person or family, the team makes sure that the right kind of support is delivered at the right time.
The team is made up of a team manager, an assistant team manager, social workers and referral co-ordinators.
Verity, assistant team manager, says: “Working in the MASH team is a varied and interesting role. We never know what is coming in on a day-to-day basis and I enjoy thinking on my feet and learning new things all the time. The team are excellent practitioners and are passionate about the children in our community.
“Although we are office based and do not go and see children directly, we keep their wellbeing and safety at the heart of all our decision making.”
Children with disabilities team
The children with disabilities team provides support to children and families that have an identified additional need. They also support children and families that are going through the process of assessment for support.
This team is made up of a team manager, assistant team manager and social workers.
– Shantie, team manager, says: “I love my team, they’re supportive, talented and very child and family focussed.”
Here4U (Child in Care & Care Leavers) Team
Being a member of our children in care team presents limitless opportunities to make a huge difference to the lives of children in long-term care.
Whether this is in foster care or residential homes, the team supports children and young people to ensure they receive the best possible opportunities in life.
They strongly promote the development of independence skills to make sure young people transition effectively into adulthood.
This team is made up of a team manager, two assistant team managers, social workers and personal assistants.
– Senior social worker Nikki in the team says:
“I really enjoy working in Here4U. There is a mix of social workers and personal advisors who have a variety of knowledge and experience and work with the children and young person from the time they start their journey into care until they are 25 years old.
“While in Year 11, the young person will be introduced to a personal advisor who will stay with them until after they turn 18 years. Together, we work to support the young person to become independent (which may vary depending on the young person’s needs).
“At Here4U, I work with children and young people who have started their journey into care and support their transition into adulthood alongside personal advisors where my involvement ends when they turn 18 years old.
“But, their journey with Here4U continues and it is lovely to see how their independence develops and what they achieve at the beginning of adulthood.”
Family placement teams
The family placement teams recruit, assesses and support foster carers.
They also undertake assessments of prospective special guardians and connected carers.
The team is made up of a team manager, two assistant team managers, social workers and a finance and recruitment officers.
– Miranda, a social worker in the team, says:
“I work in the fostering service, and I very much enjoy the spirit of the team, and our wonderful and exceptional foster parent community. As an autistic social worker, I celebrate difference and the strengths, gifts and talents that we bring to the workplace. I also understand that our shared experiences contribute to the enriching environment that we are privileged to work within.
“I have been enabled to bring about change for neurodiverse employees and I am an active member of the equality, diversity, and inclusion steering group, and chair of the Neurodiversity Support Network.
“The culture within our organisation is supportive, creative and we are encouraged to collaborate, and enabled to work using child-centered approaches where care, kindness and compassion are at the core of our relationship-based practice with our children and young people.
“We are encouraged to develop our practice and we benefit from robust training and development opportunities. For example, I am completing a systemic practice course supported by my employer. We are entirely enabled to be the best we can be which helps to support the delivery of quality services to our communities.”
The Compass Team
The Compass Team was set up in 2020, has developed new ways of working and provides additional capacity to support social work teams deliver and sustain positive outcomes.
It aims to achieve permanence with children, families, carers and multi-agency partners through focusing on:
- Children remaining at home or in their connected networks when safe to do so (traditionally referred to as edge of care).
- Children remaining in placements for as long as appropriate and without any unplanned moves (traditionally referred to as placement stability).
- Children returning home or to their connected networks, so that they can safely leave care and build their relationships and resilience in their local communities (traditionally referred to as reunification).
The team is made up of a team manager, a psychologist, team practitioners and parenting assessors.
– Kev, a Compass practitioner, says: “The Compass Team is a new addition to WBC children’s services, and I am so proud to be part of it. We are sometimes referred to as the edge of care team, but we offer so much more than that. We work alongside the other children’s social care teams but bring something different to what most families have experienced before. Every day is varied and presents different challenges in our work, which is a big part of what I love. We are a small team, and we support each other as much as we can. This is why we say they aren’t “my” families rather they are “our” families. It is such an exciting team to be part of.”
DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SOCIAL WORKER AT WOKINGHAM
Sue Allwright - senior social worker
Chris Edwards - social worker
WORKING AT WOKINGHAM
We are committed to instilling a learning culture where staff are given recognition and are valued for the important work they do and are supported to be the best they can be.
Our aim is to maintain a professionally qualified, highly skilled, motivated, diverse and integrated workforce, and we are doing this by:
- Recruiting and retaining the best people with the right skills and experience
- Instilling a learning culture where continuous development of professional and clinical practice is the norm
- Delivering a programme which equips leaders with the tools and knowledge to cultivate our supportive learning and development culture
- Delivering a programme of learning and development using a blended approach (experiential / coaching / classroom learning) to promote excellent professional and clinical practice
- Choosing approaches and interventions with a proven track record of success and sound evidence base to support practitioners in delivering their statutory safeguarding duties and improve outcomes for children
- Embedding integrated partnership working
“Social workers and managers at all levels benefit from a wide portfolio of practice and management training and learning, which includes training and ongoing coaching regarding the local authority’s practice model.
Learning priorities are often derived from themes identified through quality assurance activity, such as working with complex families and systemic and trauma-informed approaches.” (Ofsted focused visit, 2021).
We believe that if we get this right, it will in turn support our children, young people and their families to achieve the best possible outcomes.
We have recently launched a Social Work Progression Policy. The policy sets out the performance criteria and application process for individuals who wish to progress to senior social worker to follow.
The policy provides a simple and consistent pathway that experienced social workers can be put on to progress to the senior role.
At Wokingham, we have adopted Signs of Safety as our practice framework. This is a strengths-based and safety-focused approach, which prioritises direct work and relationships with the child and their network.
Our commitment to this includes training staff at all levels in children’s services. We also use this strengths-based approach in the support and line management of our staff.
- ASYE: £32,910
- Social workers: up to £41,881
- Senior social worker: up to £43,851
- Assistant team manager/practice consultant: up to £48,849
- Team manager: up to £52,907
Supervision and caseloads
Approachable and visible senior leadership:
- One-to-one team manager support, reflective supervision and access to a mentor
- Manageable caseloads allowing for relationship-based practice
- Newly qualified social workers hold fewer cases and have access to dedicated practice support
Relocation allowance of up to £8,000 for individuals moving from outside a 30-mile radius and two days of paid leave. Social workers are also entitled to apply for key worker accommodation.
- Local Government Pension Scheme
- Generous annual leave scheme starting at 27 days and additional five days after five years’ continuous local authority service
- Range of staff benefits and discount schemes for shopping, travel, attractions, leisure clubs and so much more
- Access to staff clubs and health and wellbeing sessions, including mindfulness and yoga.
The workplace and flexible working
We allow flexible working, including SMART working. Social workers can have the choice of a tablet or laptop, a mobile phone and Microsoft Teams to enable flexible working.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, our teams adopted a hybrid working style, with workers being given the option to work in the office part time.
“My manager’s support enabled me to prioritise my child and do the work that I needed to do. Working flexibly gave me permission to enjoy the time I had with my child without feeling guilty about work.” – Stella, senior social worker.
Our open plan offices at Shute End encourage an open-door policy and mean your manager, senior managers or teammates are never too far away for a chat.
When in the office, all social work teams other than Here4U are based in the Shute End office. Them Here4U team is currently based in Woodley but will be moving to a new home in Wokingham soon.
Wokingham has recently launched a ‘Workplace Reimagined’ project, which is looking at modernising our main office spaces to respond to post-Covid workplace needs. This collaborative project is taking into account what workers at Wokingham want to see from the future of our workplace.
Access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), including free, confidential counselling and information services, assisting with personal and work-related problems that may be affecting your health and wellbeing.
Mental health first aiders
A team of 50 mental health first aiders (MHFA) are trained to be a first point of contact for any employee experiencing poor mental health or emotional distress.
They offer a non-judgmental space for you to speak in confidence and, if required, they can guide you to appropriate professional support.
Their role is to encourage people to talk more freely about mental health, reducing stigma and creating a more positive workplace culture in relation to mental wellbeing: “It’s ok not to be ok”.
Each Wednesday, we share a wellbeing Wednesday article in the news section of the intranet. Each week, we focus on a specific topic, and cover mental, emotional, and physical health, techniques and methods to improve ways of working, as well as tools for self-care and care of each other.
In addition to this, we also hold fortnightly, drop-in ‘wellbeing cafés’, where anyone is invited to join some of our MHFAs for a virtual cuppa and a chat. This is a really informal and relaxed opportunity to meet some of our MHFAs in person and have a chat about various topics relating to mental health and wellbeing.
It’s a great way to socially connect with your colleagues and have some like-minded conversations about what we can do to care for ourselves and each other, so we can be the best we can be.
Other Wellbeing Offers
- On-site fitness and changing facilities
- Discounted private health care
Wokingham has a rich history as a bustling market town, welcoming a wonderful mix of traders to this day. From artisan bread to fresh flowers, and street food, there’s a real buzz and sense of community in Market Place – there’s even a vegan market once a month.
The award-winning regeneration of the town centre is nearing completion, with a brand-new Everyman cinema, independent gin bars and bakeries all newly opened. This complements the cosmopolitan mix of restaurants, coffee shops and much-loved high street stores such as Oliver Bonas and Waterstones.
Wokingham regularly ranks in the UK’s best places to lives, and it’s no wonder why.
Situated on the M4 corridor, this hotspot has excellent transport links to Reading, London, Heathrow and Gatwick. We are just:
- 7 miles from Junction 10 on the M4
- 10 miles from Junction 4 on the M3
- 17 miles from Junction 12 on the M25
You also can catch a fast train to London Paddington in just 45 minutes or reach London Waterloo by train in 1 hour 10 minutes.
Wokingham has been named the healthiest place to live in England:
Wokingham is bordered by other exciting towns and counties including:
- West Berkshire
- Windsor and Maidenhead
Our offices are just a short walk from the heart of the town and a matter of minutes from the local train station. We also welcome flexible working!
Map of Wokingham
Click the map below to explore more of Wokingham and its tourist locations.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT #WHYWOKINGHAM
If you would like to discuss our current social worker vacancies or hear more about opportunities at Wokingham Children’s Services than please contact our dedicated social work recruitment team. They can be reached by email or at 07801664357.