Social Work Manager

Tia is a Social Work Team Manager at Norfolk County Council. She works with adults who have physical and mental disabilities. 

Social work is more than a job, it's a vocation

I have always been very interested in people and naturally concerned for the welfare of others. I completed my first degree in Psychosocial Sciences at UEA, and towards the end of my degree a couple of my lecturers suggested I would make a good social worker. This changed everything. Initially, I wanted to become a clinical psychologist but with my lecturers’ encouragement looking into what social work looked like, I decided this was the right path for me and completed MA in Social Work at UEA.

I have been working as a social worker since 2009, working for Children’s Services initially and then I moved to Adult Social Care in 2013. I am now part of a team working with adults over the age of 18 presenting with any physical disabilities and working with older people experiencing mental illness.

I think there are several essential qualities needed to become a social worker. Having curiosity about people and to have a genuine caring nature accompanied with empathy is key, as is the ability to communicate well, even in conflict situations, and to maintain professionalism. Also, with body language accounting for 70% of communication, remembering to pick up on non-verbal cues, such as a hunched shoulder or a lack of eye contact, can articulate paramount information about a person. Active listening – not just listening to respond, is also an essential part of communication.

It is also pivotal to be able to gather information, critically analyse and systematically plan to decide on a course of action. Good organisational skills and to be able to prioritise workload is vital.

Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves in accordance with a code of ethics and values. This means demonstrating professional practice, promoting human rights and social justice. We have to recognise when our values differ from others, which can be reflected on in supervision and team discussions.  We have a non-judgemental attitude and acceptance towards difference. We aim to empower people and support them to take back control into their lives. Everyone is individual with their own cultural background and unique journey. It is also essential to have accountability and responsibility for what we do.

Being a social work team manager means that my day is varied and colourful. One of my responsibilities is being the office manager, which means overseeing the duty team to ensure any crisis is managed in a safe manner and protective measures are put in place to guard vulnerable adults.

I am also accountable for funding agreements to implement packages of care and have to ensure that social care practitioners have explored all other universal services available to them that may be relevant to the unique individual’s circumstances.

I am a point of contact for staff to support them in identifying safeguarding situations and deciding if it meets the criteria for a safeguarding threshold to start an investigation.  I also provide daily case consultations for our social care practitioners, supporting them with making complex decisions and positive outcomes.  I take great pleasure in line managing and supervising both social workers and assistant practitioners and seeing them grow in confidence and in their professional development.

There are many things that are great about being a social worker but one of the best things is to make a real difference to individuals’ lives, empowering them to be able to contribute to our society. The core of social work is supporting social justice. I have worked in both hospital and community settings and have witnessed pain and loss but also seen amazing resilience and healing.

To someone who is considering a career in social work I would say, first of all, it is a great decision! It is hard work, but extremely gratifying. You will never run out of motivation and creative opportunities. Make sure you get some social work-related experience to get a sense and feel of what it is like. Don’t forget self-care to harness emotional resilience – we can’t pour from an empty cup. And get ready for the exciting challenge.

Lastly, I would like to say social work is a lot more than a job, it is a vocation. A way of life, and one of the most rewarding options someone could choose.

We are recruiting now for social workers all over Norfolk. See our vacancies page and apply today.