They say that if you find a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.
This saying certainly rings true for the cheerful team of Children and Family social workers from Milton Keynes Council that Celebrate:MK caught up with this month.
There is no doubt that the job of a social worker is extremely challenging, working with people and families to support them through difficult times and ensuring that vulnerable people are safeguarded from harm.
But it is clear that MK Council’s management structure, career and training opportunities and the support given to employees provides the Children and Family staff with everything they need to flourish and enjoy their roles.
Vikki Blakeston, Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Manager, explained: “I’ve been working at Milton Keynes Council for 30 years and I wouldn’t work anywhere else.
“We work under a family support ethos if we can, rather than going to Child Protection, which is a very different philosophy to other local authorities.
“When you talk to social workers that come to Milton Keynes from other authorities – and we have many – the difference in the way they were supervised, managed and trained is very different.
“Here they find there is a very clear structure of management line responsibility, there is always someone to talk to and somebody in that room to support them to make a decision.
“The training is wide-ranging and is much more colourful than other local authorities. You can find specific, expert training if you have a specialism within your social work practice.
“And we have no problem with social workers moving from one part of the system to another to broaden their experience – we encourage it!
“Once agency workers experience Milton Keynes they tend to apply for a permanent post, which has contributed to a reduction in agency staff to below 10% of our workforce.
“One of our neighbouring authorities functions on about 50% of agency staff, but once you come to MK you want to stay!”
Sharon Godfrey commutes from Bedfordshire for her role as Corporate Parenting Team Manager.
She said: “It’s a bit like a family as everyone knows everybody, so people tend to stay.
“I could work closer to home but there are so many perks to working in MK.
“The road infrastructure is really good, it’s good for shopping and we’re centrally based at the council so we can go out and shop in our lunch hour!
“Our salary scales aren’t a lot different to many of the London boroughs and we offer a market supplement to our social workers, so people get an extra £4,000 on top of their salary. There’s also a very lucrative pension.
“We promote flexible working too so it supports people’s lifestyle, including mums who have maybe taken a work-break because they’ve had children. It gives them a chance to come back into a career.”
Celebrate:MK also interviewed Corporate Parenting Team social workers Tara Daily and Graham Taylor-Paddick, who commute to MK from Northampton and Aylesbury respectively.
Graham was beaming with pride after helping a troubled young MK man fulfil his dream of joining the Army.
He said: “I’ve only been working with him a few months but in that time I’ve been able to build a really good relationship with him.
“He’s invited me to his passing out parade, so I’ll be going up to see that. I think he really appreciates the help I’ve given him.
“I’ve worked for archaic local authorities in the past but in Milton Keynes things get done a lot quicker and more efficiently – we can even receive clinical supervision if we want, which is fantastic.”
To find out more, or If you are interested in a career within the Children and Family Team, you can register your interest at http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/children-young-people-families/children-s-social-care/socialwork
This article was first published in the March issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. You can read the full digital edition by clicking here.