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Meet our Family Safeguarding Team

Coronavirus update

Subject to the ongoing situation, it's essential that we continue recruiting safely. Therefore, interviews and communication will be virtual wherever possible and this will be communicated to you directly by the hiring manager.

Please also expect that advert closing dates and interview dates may change as required. We still continue to welcome applications for our current roles and wish you the best of luck with your application.

We would welcome applications especially for our most critical roles to ensure we're supporting our residents

Meet some of our Family Safeguarding Team, and find out about their jobs and the type of work they're involved in.

You'll also learn more about the benefits of working with Surrey County Council and the sort of people we're looking for.

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Attila Rafael, Social Worker - South East Family Safeguarding Team

Why did you become a social worker?

I really enjoy working directly with children and their families. Just being able to be a part of a child's life and having the power to change things for the better is so rewarding.

What is the best part of being a social worker?

I love having the opportunity to meet different people every day and having the power to help them. It is a huge responsibility but it's an important job.

What do you enjoy most about working with children and families in Surrey?

I like that we are very focused on the children. We speak to them and understand what it is they want and what they need.

How does Surrey support you?

I have only been here for a few months and already I feel that Surrey really values you and recognises your skills. There is a really friendly atmosphere here and they are keen to help you grow as a professional. Surrey has provided lots of training which will help me develop and acquire the skills I need for the next stage in my career. My Team Managers are also very helpful, and they are always willing to answer any questions you have at any time of the day.

How do you find the case load at Surrey?

It is very good compared to the last local authority I was at. They take a human approach and consider the complexity of your cases which is unusual. They will also focus on your abilities and discuss how much you can manage. Interestingly I have far more complex cases, yet I feel more relaxed at Surrey.

Does Surrey offer a good work-life balance?

Surrey allows for flexible working which is ideal when you have your own family. As long as the work is done, they will support you to work from home or elsewhere. This has had a huge impact on my wellbeing and means I can work more effectively.

What is it like to work in Redhill?

It's great. It only takes me a few minutes to drive to work, and this gives me the chance to look after my own family as well. The office is very accessible by road and in a great location close to the train station and local shops. The scenery around here is also beautiful, we have large windows in the office which look out over the Surrey Hills.

What would you say to someone considering becoming a social worker in Surrey?

If you want a friendly and supportive environment, and you are ready to grow as a professional, then this is the right place for you.

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Helen Roser, Team Manager - South East Family Safeguarding Team

"My colleagues would laugh at me because I always say this, but I love my job! It can be a challenge but if you embrace it, it can be so rewarding. I always treat my staff the way I would want to be treated, and I think it reflects in the way they work with their families. We are all in it to achieve the best outcomes for families, so we have to support one another."

What is it like being a Team Manager for Surrey's Children's Services?

Each day is different. Some days it's nice and quiet and you get everything done, and others you have to think on your feet. But there is always a happy buzz around you which I like. We have a lot of discussions with our social workers, checking in on them making sure that everything is going well on their cases. There are lots of meetings, visits and panel discussions, so it is very much a hands-on role.

What were some of the recent changes made in the transformation process?

The biggest change has been integrating our partners and practitioners. The new Family Safeguarding model means that we have a much larger cohort of staff at different levels with various experiences. This means we can draw on a wider set of expertise and bring people together to solve issues with cases, which is a really interesting way of working.

Are people getting better services as a result of the new way of working with partners?

Our social workers are much better informed by being able to frequently draw on our partners' expertise. The more detailed the advice, the more informed we are on how we can support a family to change. So, it has definitely improved the service.

How has the change in culture affected your team?

Having all our practitioners coming together and offering their advice has made a huge difference. It offers a larger support network and means the burden isn't just on the social worker. There is also a greater focus on listening to staff's concerns and answering their questions. This has meant they feel a part of the transition period.

What new structures have been put in place to support staff?

Staff are able to come and speak to their Team Managers whenever they need to. I think this is really important for them. I have staff at my desk most of the time, but it's good for me as well because then I am better placed to assess the impact of things straight away. However, more formally there are also monthly supervision sessions to ensure we speak to everyone and understand how our staff are getting on and where they need assistance.

Do you get to be involved in shaping the future of Surrey's Children's Services?

You can be as involved as you want. During the transformation process I made sure I was a part of all the consultations so that I could express the views of my staff and keep them well informed.

What is the career progression like at Surrey?

I've been in Surrey for 18 years now, starting off as an Office Family Support Worker, and worked my way up to a Team Manager. The progression now has greatly improved. We offer various training programmes and workshops to help social workers better understand how they can move forward with their career.

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Louise Fox, Service Manager - South East Family Safeguarding and Safeguarding Adolescents Team

What is it like being a Service Manager for Surrey's Children's Services?

Being a Service Manager I get involved with quite a lot of panel meetings and discussions as I have oversight of cases. Social workers will sometimes come up and ask me advice if their manager isn't around, or sometimes we will have a more formal meeting to deal with more complex cases and to work out a way forward. It's a good way of working and I like being able to sit down and talk with people rather than making decisions over email.

What kind of changes have recently been made to Surrey's Children's Services?

I've been in Surrey for two and a half years and when I first joined the caseloads were higher, and children experienced frequent changes of social workers. But that has really reduced now due to a really positive push forward with the Family Safeguarding model. We have a far more child centred approach because of that. With the new model we are more able to act quickly and focus on making changes for children and families, rather than following processes for processes sake.

How have those changes affected you as a Service Manager?

One of the things that has really got better are the new systems and processes that have been put in place to support you in your decision making. There is now more clarity and more management oversight. Having these basics gives staff the freedom to focus on making changes for our families and children.

What new structures have been put in place to support staff?

As part of the recent changes we have had a number of specialists join our team. Once a week we have someone from the police exploitation team come and sit in our team, and we also have specialists in domestic abuse, mental health and substance misuse. It means staff can ask advice from a variety of experts and get a clear idea of the best way to approach a situation. This also gives them more confidence. We also have a new intervention programme which has provided our social workers with more tool kits to undertake more meaningful pieces of work with families.

Do you get to be a part of shaping the future of Surrey's Children's Services?

As a Service Manager we certainly do. We work very closely with the Youth Service to develop our new adolescent offer. That said, social workers have also led the way on developing practice, for example, a specialist offer for children with autism. So, you can get involved at any level if you want to. We are all given the opportunity to be innovative in how we deliver work and what we want to offer to children and families.

What is it like to work in Redhill?

Working in Redhill is really convenient because it is at the centre of everything. This makes driving between various offices and your families much more straightforward and less time consuming. Although being able to drive is vital, we are also really close to the train station, so we have various travel options. I sometimes get the train in, which I like because it gives me a chance to relax.

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Noor Darigha, Social Worker - South East Family Safeguarding Team

Why did you become a social worker?

Initially it was because of the support I saw being put in place for my Dad as he got older and needed extra assistance. I realised that I wanted to work with people who supported others who were most in need. I also saw how I could help people who have experienced abuse, and I wanted to be a part of a team of people who were working to fight against that and ensure that every child could live a safe life.

What is it like working with children and families is Surrey?

It is such a joy to work with the children and families in Surrey and I love having the opportunity to work with different people every day.

What is the best part about being a social worker in Surrey?

I think the best part would be having direct communication with the children. I get to hear their voices and that helps me to make the changes that they desperately need in their lives.

What is the best thing about working in Redhill?

We are really lucky; Redhill is a very multicultural area with lovely, friendly people. The food market just around the corner from the office is also great and is a good spot to enjoy in the summer.

How has Surrey supported your career?

Surrey has been so helpful! The people here are amazing, they are very supportive, very encouraging and really easy to talk to. I find that you can go to anybody at any time and they're always willing to help, which is really refreshing especially in what can be a very demanding job.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a social worker in Surrey?

I would say do it! You will always be well supported and that makes a huge difference to you, and to the families you work with.

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Justice Nyamutowa, Advanced Social Worker - Child Protection team

How long have you been a social worker in Surrey?

I've been in Surrey since September 2016, when I was recruited from South Africa. For much of that time I had been working in the Child Protection Team, now known as the Family Safeguarding Team, and I've recently been promoted to the role of Advanced Social Worker,

I work with colleagues who are supporting children and families where there are significant challenges and cases that are not moving. We find ways to navigate the drift and make progress for our children and young people. So, that's basically me!

What challenges are faced by the children and families you work with?

The main issues our families face are drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and Domestic violence. There are many cases of domestic violence and some of the children we work with are raised by parents or partners where violence is a feature in their relationship. Those are the bulk of the cases that we get, and we also have some children who are coming from disadvantaged families with poverty being the main issue, but that's one or two families, not most of them.

Surrey is an affluent county, but we have some families within Surrey who are facing real financial hardship. We work with families who may be unable to afford basic things, who are living on benefits. All these issues may be present to some degree, but the majority of our cases are a result of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and mental health.

How have the changes to the Family Safeguarding Model changed the way you work with families?

Surrey adopted this new way of working in 2019 and it's really made a huge difference. We used to have high caseloads, but since we moved to the Family Safeguarding model, we are seeing things become easier, and also our families are seeing the positive changes in the way that we work.

With the Family Safeguarding Model, it feels like we are working with families, alongside our families. Previously, we tried to do things to them, to solve their problems for them, but now we empower them to change their circumstances, we give them the tools so that they can solve their own problems and bring about lasting change. This new approach is working very well, we empower families to find strength within themselves to change their situation.

We've seen cases moving quickly, we've seen families wanting to engage with us, wanting to come to us for help, which was not the case in the past. So, I would say the Family Safeguarding Model is one that's working well since we've started.

In what other ways has the way you work with families changed?

We have also seen real improvements in the new way of working that Surrey is taking – agile working – which gives us professionals flexibility. We can work from wherever we want to work. We used to spend much of our time travelling, going to our clients, coming back to the office to record, because there was no way I could record case notes outside the office. Within any one day, I could be spending about 2 to 3 hours driving back and forth between the office and seeing clients. But now with agile working we have the equipment, we have hotspot areas, and we have the systems in place so that we can do our work effectively within the community. We can go out on a visit and record what we have done without needing to return to the office. So we're spending much more time with families now and it's working very well, I'm really pleased.

Having worked with the families in this way for coming up to a year now – I can tell you that this is how I want to work and I would encourage other social workers out there to come and see. Come and feel for themselves how it is to work within the Family Safeguarding model, coupled with agile working, it's working really well.

What would you say to someone considering becoming an Advanced Social Worker in Surrey?

The team managers within Surrey, especially my manager, are really supportive and I have all the support that I need. I can go to my manager at any time to ask for advice, and she's there to mentor me. The team managers are there to help and we all find them very helpful.

As Advanced Social Workers, we also have a very good working relationship with other social workers and the Senior Social Workers; it has been pleasant since I've been appointed in this post, and I'm still growing in it. I'm hoping to learn, and I think it will be the right time for someone who is an Advanced Social Worker elsewhere to come to Surrey to build that role. They can lend their valuable knowledge to put in a structure to it.

How are colleagues and teams working together in Surrey?

The culture has really shifted significantly. Now that we have our own Drug and Alcohol, Domestic Violence and Mental Health workers embedded in our teams, it's made the work very much easier, as they have real expertise of helping clients struggling with these issues. In the past we used to refer to outside agencies, and 3 months down the line, you're told that they don't offer such services and you have to start again from the beginning. But as of now when a case comes in, the relevant people are there, we have a meeting together, everybody knows what they need to do. We go to the clients immediately and change is seen immediately, or the right intervention is given to the clients immediately.

Things are working very well, and clients are seeing that in terms of working with them and changing their circumstances, as well. This is really a good model; having all these other professionals within our team has helped transform the way we work and transform the hassles of referring to outside agencies; it used to be a nightmare, and that has changed.

Do you think you're given learning and development opportunities, and an ability to progress your career?

As a permanent staff member talking from a permanent staff basis, we're given free training by Surrey, and you can book the training that you need, speak to your line manager and attend. Since I've come to Surrey, I have so many certificates, I've done so much training that has helped me be a better worker within my role.

Since I came here as a social worker, four years down the line I've moved to an advanced role. If you say that's not a good career progression, I don't know what it would look like! So, I'd say there is nothing preventing you from moving up the ladder, nothing preventing you from assuming the next role and responsibility as long as you're willing to do that and work towards that. We have people who can help, and we have the right training that can challenge you to achieve that career progression.

How do you find your office and the area you work in? What's it like to work there?

It's a good office, a lovely office. We moved in October 2019 from our previous office to the new office and it's a big improvement. We're much closer to where the majority of our clients live, so we can go to them easily, and sometimes we don't even need to drive; we can just walk in, see a client and come back to the office and record, which makes our work very, very easy.

All the services also work closely together in this office, on one floor. We are all together and I can see everyone, and if I need to discuss anything, it's easier for me to just go, sit there and talk about a case with them before it comes to me. It has made everything a little bit easier that way, because it's easy for me to grab someone who has worked with a family previously and say, "can we talk about this case?".

What would you say to someone considering joining Surrey?

I would say come, come to Surrey. Surrey is moving in a positive direction. We adopted the Family Safeguarding Model, which is working for us, which is working for our clients. We have adopted an agile way of working, which gives you flexibility and gives you more time with the clients as well. We have adopted the Motivational Interviewing way of working, which helps you make those decisions with a family, working with them to help to make decisions and find ways of coming out of their situation, changing their behaviour.

Now, we've been equipped with the skills and the tools to work with families and empower them to find ways to solve their issues and problems. If you're an Advanced Social Worker, Surrey offers a great opportunity to make a real difference for children. We're well supported; we have line managers, we have service managers, we have an Assistant Director who is amazing. So, please come and be part of this team!

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Danielle English - Domestic Abuse worker, Family Safeguarding Team, Walton-on-Thames

What's the most rewarding part of the job?

It's really rewarding when you're helping a family step down from Child Protection, helping to empower them to build that resilience to be able to go forward in their lives; I love that part of the job.

Especially in my area, most of the Child Protection and Child In Need cases have domestic abuse issues in them. We definitely need more people, put it that way. Our workload is healthy. And no two families or cases are ever the same, you're constantly learning and evolving. There's things that come up all the time where I think I know it all, and then it pushes me further, so it's definitely a challenging job to be in, but I love it.

What made you transfer from Adult's to Children's?

I joined the Children's team in January from the Adult's team. I've always had a massive passion for domestic abuse. When I was working in Adults, I worked in the locality team and did adult safeguarding. A lot of that was domestic abuse work, and I was the champion for the team there. So when this opportunity came up, because I love working for Surrey, I applied straight away.

In terms of your transfer, did the council put any support in there?

My previous manager in the Adult's team was really supportive when I said I was looking to interview and make the transfer over. She was really encouraging, she wanted me to progress, to stay within the council but do something that I was passionate about. So support from them has been brilliant, and then coming into Children's was a really good experience.

My new manager has been absolutely amazing. It's quite odd in that each domestic abuse practitioner has a different manager, so essentially I have two teams. I have my team within the family safeguarding model, but I also have my team of domestic abuse specialist workers. Which is really lovely, because I do feel supported from all angles.

What are the benefits of the new family safeguarding model for your specialist role?

So in our team, as well as me we have a drug and alcohol worker, we have a mental health worker, and then we have the family support workers that do the direct work with the children, and then the social worker. So that's really good. We tend to do all our supervisions together as well, so you get the clinical overview. I will go into a social worker's supervision to talk about a specific family that I've been doing work with. Within our role as well, we attend supervisions, we also attend core groups, child protection plans, Child In Need meetings, for my cases. Which is really good for working with all the different sections.

Is the model delivering better support for victims?

The feedback that I'm getting is they don't have to tell their story so many times, because they're being supported from us sitting in the Child Protection team. We have access to their records, we have a direct link to their social worker, so they're not having to repeat their stories over and over, which I know they can find very frustrating. And because there are not very many of us we are quite consistent with the victims that we support, so they will only see us and not other people from different teams, which they find really supportive and helpful.

Are you seeing the benefits has this brought to the service?

Yes definitely, particularly in terms of transparency. Pre the family safeguarding model, lots of other professionals were not turning up to meetings. It's really hard to make that organisation accountable when they weren't turning up to share any information. This model's working really well. As far as any meeting I've been attending, there have been police, housing, all the different professionals coming together to support the family.

Do you think the council's partners have reacted well to the new model? Has it encouraged a more positive relationship with them?

From my own personal experience it's working really well. And because you tend to see the same people turning up for meetings as well, it means that you can build relationships with different professionals, which is really good. There's a lot more room to be able to have conversations, which there wasn't before, because there was always a different person to speak to.

Have you had any feedback from people that you're working with about how it used to be before, compared with the changes you've seen recently?

It's been really positive. The work I've been doing as a specialist adviser was featured in our newsletter as a way to say thank you. It's fantastic to see our work as specialist celebrated in this way. The feedback I'm getting from service managers is that the specialists are doing a great job and are definitely filling that gap. I never experienced Children's Services pre the way it is now, so it's hard for me to say, but just by going on what I heard this model is much more transparent and efficient at supporting the family. Whereas before, it was very much "us and them".

What's it been like joining a new team during the COVID outbreak?

In a way COVID has mean that we're regularly bringing all the domestic abuse specialists together, because we have our own teams on Microsoft Teams, and we all chat daily. One of the new things at the council, introduced for COVID at the moment, is we're on duty for C-SPA (Children's Single Point Of Access), so any of the professionals can call up at the moment if they've got a concern, and they can speak to a domestic abuse specialist, and that's worked really well. We're all doing a week each on a rota. If they've got any queries about anything domestic abuse related, they can call through to us and have a conversation.

How has the role changed with the outbreak?

My case load has definitely gone up, because of the way I'm supporting people now. Pre-COVID I would have done face to face visits, we would be running groups, our 'Safe For Us' programme; everything was done face to face. Whereas with COVID now, our main priority is emotional support, just being there. We have to be quite flexible about the ways in which we support our victims at the moment, because they can't speak to us on our terms.

What kind of technology has the council provided in order to communicate effectively with the people you're helping?

I've got a hybrid laptop. We've doing a lot of our Child Protection and Child In Need meetings and core meetings over Zoom, so we've all been able to meeting face to face essentially, which has worked really well. With some of my victims I've been able to do FaceTime sessions each week; a lot of them are isolated. For some of them this might not be their country of birth, so they're not seeing family, they don't have a lot of support networks. Just being able to see my face when they're talking has been really helpful to some women.

How do you normally get into the office?

For me it's absolutely amazing because the office is seven minutes down the road! I know the local area because I live in Elmbridge, so locality and commuting wise, it's brilliant for me. I was only there from January, but the team culture is really welcoming, I've felt like I've fit in straight away. Previously I was able to work from 8am to 4pm, which meant that I could pick my child up from school, so they are flexible with working times. I was also able to work from home pre-COVID as well, and hotdesking was available. I've had a really good experience and I'm glad I made the transition.

What are the working arrangements like at Surrey?

You're left to be responsible for your own work. When you're in a team that's very micro-managed, I don't tend to work as well.. That's very important for me as well as being able to work from home. The council provides us with a phone, we've got laptops that have got 4G chips in them, so we can work from anywhere. We can hotdesk as well, and I look after quite a wide locality. We cover from Epsom, Elmbridge, all the way over to Staines. So if I'm seeing some victims in one area, I can hotdesk in another locality, so having that flexibility is brilliant. They pay for our expenses, we get a travel allowance, and also a pension. I have my own car, but we get mileage covered by expenses.

Surrey is looking to recruit more specialists, team managers and advanced social workers. What would you say to someone who's considering making a move to Surrey?

Definitely do it. I find that working for Surrey has lots of benefits. They're very flexible. I have children, so being able to be very flexible is a top priority for me. And I believe it's a very supportive team to be working for, especially with this current wraparound model.

Anna Want, Senior Drug and Alcohol Worker - Family Safeguarding, Walton on ThamesAnna Want - enior Drug and Alcohol Worker - Family Safeguarding, Walton on

I'm a Senior Drug and Alcohol Worker and there's a team of us who are embedded within Surrey County Council's Children's Services. 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 within the family to do with substance and alcohol use. Our aim is that we will be able to respond much more quickly and with greater understanding to these issues, and that this will help us support the family as a whole. All of us work with the intention of keeping families together, recognising the strength of families, even though there may be substance misuse within the family.

It's hoped that instead of someone coming to a treatment environment, such as a day service or a clinic, and getting treatment in isolation, we are able to work with all the family members to support the family as a whole. Substance misuse affects everyone in a family, and we often find that more than one person within a family may be using substances. Our Family Safeguarding model means we can support the whole family simultaneously and have a joined up approach to their treatment.

What drew you to Surrey?

I think that what Surrey are trying to do is really innovative. There's always been a call from drug and alcohol workers like me that we should work more closely with social services, to have a better understanding of their role and to inform their role from an expert point of view. That's exactly what we're doing here in Surrey and it's really exciting to be part of it.

When I joined people were genuinely glad to have us on board and they recognised that the diversity of experience and the understanding that we bring is really critical to us as a team. So we've been made to feel very welcome and I really value the contributions and experiences of my multi-disciplinary colleagues as well.

Also, I'm a Surrey resident and working on my own patch was really appealing. In my last job, I didn't particularly enjoy sitting in traffic jams every day trying to get into the city to work. Surrey is a fantastic place to work. It's got good transport connections and is really diverse, but it's also close to nature and a beautiful place to live.

What's the best bit about your job?

As someone who has come from a substance misuse environment, I would always say that the best part of my role is working with clients. We're making real inroads, forming relationships with clients, and seeing genuine change. And that's why we're do the job.

How do you find the case load at Surrey?

Our case load has been capped at 20. For a drug and alcohol worker that's quite a reasonable level. Many of my peers working elsewhere have caseloads of 50 or 60, but in Surrey capacity is being built in to enable us to do the work in depth that needs to be done.

For my colleagues who are social workers, although they are busy and have a lot of demands on their time, there is an understanding that if the quantity is to high then the quality will be compromised, and they're not willing to do that. Throughout the service they are trying to reserve capacity for our social workers to do the work that they need to do.

What support is there for staff in Surrey?

My team leader is phenomenal. She is very experienced and she's really supportive of her team members no matter what. It's really nice to know that there's someone who's in your corner and that you can go to for support. She has an open-door policy and she sticks to that. So, I'm really lucky to have someone like that who is taking care of me while I'm doing my work with children and families in Surrey.

There's a huge drive within Surrey's Children's Services to provide additional educational and training support. They're really keen to help people skill up in various areas, and there's a topic-based programme of training to help people develop their skills as practitioners. That's something that's been driven from a senior level within the department.

Why should people come to work in Surrey?

It's a great time to join Surrey! There's still a lot of shaping of the service to be done. The people who are leading Surrey's Children's services at the moment have a really great vision for the future. The future is much more about partnership working and welcoming members of the multi-disciplinary team to support children and families and meet their needs.

Staff in Surrey are genuinely interested in protecting families, in making children safe and having the best outcome for families. That is a drive that we all share and our teams are really motivated to support clients who have areas of strength, and maintain those areas of strength. In Surrey they are always looking for what is being done well and what they can grow in terms of the family's potential, instead of any kind of negativity, and that's genuine.

I've been really impressed by how responsive and supportive everyone here is. It's rare to work with a group of people who have very stressful for roles but are so positive about it. They are really positive about team working as well and they do genuinely care for each other as well as the families that they work with. They genuinely love their jobs and they do them to a really high standard, so working here has been quite inspirational.

How has your work changed due to Covid-19?

The intention for our multi-disciplinary teams is that colleagues work very closely together, with regular supervisions as a group, but since the lockdown came into force we can't do that face-to-face.

We are using technology to continue to have that multi-disciplinary contact, but we're also finding new ways to work with children and families as well. So, at the moment, our service is predominantly delivered by telephone. We are speaking to our clients by phone and offering them as much support if not more as what we'd originally planned to offer them.

In some ways, because we're using phones, we're able to be much more efficient with our use of time. Because we're not having to spend time driving between clients at the moment, it means a lot more time has opened up during the day for us to support children and their families. So, although I can't really say that telephone contact is equal to face-to-face contact, it's what we've got at the moment and we're using it as effectively as possible.

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Katy Saunders, Senior Domestic Abuse Officer, Family Safeguarding Team, Redhill

What made you want to work at Surrey?

I guess it was the opportunity to do something a bit different and having the chance to work more closely with a smaller group of people. In Probation we have massive caseloads, and you never really feel like you are able to that intensive work with people, so that was something that attracted me. And also, this is a career progression for me; it was a move upwards, which is always positive.

What would a day in the life of a Senior Domestic Abuse Officer would look like?

It's a varied role as it's a mixture of doing direct work with perpetrators and risk assessing to make sure that the social worker has all of the facts so they can better protect the families. But also it's advising and guiding social workers, and helping them to see the bigger picture when it comes to domestic abuse cases. There are a lot of myths out there about how to work with perpetrators and the risks they pose. So, it's varied between that direct work and the professional liaison.

Can you tell me a bit more about the range of work that you do?

Working with domestic abuse perpetrators, we would complete a risk assessment to give social workers an idea of the risk they pose. Then hopefully, if the perpetrator is sufficiently motivated, we would deliver interventions with them. So that could be individual interventions that would eventually develop to group work interventions. As the Senior Domestic Abuse Officer, I will be managing the other staff that deliver those interventions, undertaking some work myself, arranging the programmes, and making sure that what we offer is useful for social workers. So my role is varied between supporting staff but also working directly with families.

What is the best part of your job?

I find it very interesting! I love getting to know people and getting to understand the way that they work. I'm also very much enjoying the ability to share that knowledge with social workers, and for them to directly use it to keep families safe. It's nice that we can actually do a role which is useful to social workers. So, I'm enjoying doing the assessments and then sharing them.

How do you think the Family Safeguarding model improves services for children?

My understanding of the model is that it brings in outside specialisms to work with the parents. Whereas social workers work directly with the children, this allows them time to do that properly without having to feel like they have to be a jack of all trades. So, the model - in theory - directs the intervention to where it should be, where it's needed. So if there is domestic abuse as a problem within the family, then the best person to deal with that is a Domestic Abuse Officer; if there are substance misuse issues, a Substance Misuse Officer gets involved; mental health, they're Mental Health Practitioners. So, it's the idea of bringing in specialists in-house; not having to depend on outside organisations to do that work. It can only make things better for the families, in my opinion, it makes so much sense.

What new structures have been put in place to better support staff?

The focus has been to make sure that social workers have reasonable caseloads, so that they can do good quality work. Which I think supports staff because they don't feel overwhelmed. Having specialist workers and a larger team also means that there is shared responsibility. There is also a move to have motivational interview training, so there's a much more strength-based approach with families. In my experience it has a really positive result, and that makes the families feel much more supported, therefore building better relationships with their social worker.

How has the change in culture affected your team?

I think that it is a shift for a lot of social workers, it's a lot to get used to. But it makes sense as you can build up those relationships. It also means you don't feel that just as you're making progress with somebody you have to hand them over to a different team. I'm hoping that that culture will change things, and I think it has.

What is the career progression like at Surrey?

Within Surrey you've got a standard Social Worker, but then you've got Advanced Practitioners, Senior Social Workers, Team Managers and Service Managers. So that is a really good thing as people progress in their confidence and their skill set. They will also feel like they have somewhere to progress to, and that that is recognised through benefits and salary.

How does Surrey help progress your career?

One of the things that attracted me was the opportunity to really get my teeth stuck into something very new, as it was being implemented. I am hopeful that having that opportunity will help my career progression, as I will be able to say I helped to develop and make Family Safeguarding a successful model. Also getting experience of managing staff and managing other staff members' time in terms of planning group work, those sorts of things. So, it is teaching me a lot of different, new skills.

What's it like working in the Redhill area of Surrey?

I've always felt very safe and welcomed in the town centre, I've never had any bad experiences. There are a good amount of shops and up the road you've got Reigate, which is a very quaint town, very pretty. It's also well served, it's easy to get up to London and also getting down into Sussex and Brighton, so location wise it's great. The Redhill team are also very welcoming; everybody's really nice, and I'm missing seeing their faces when we're on lockdown. It was a very welcoming atmosphere.

What would you say to someone who's considering joining Surrey?

I would say that it's a really good opportunity if you want to try a new and different way of working. To be at the forefront of trying this new model, for me, it makes perfect sense that we would be working with families in a holistic, multi-agency way, and that we would have hopefully more time to be able to do that work. So, for me, it is a common-sense way of working, it's a joined-up way of working. I'm always getting in touch with other organisations outside of Children's Services - things like Probation and Police - and trying to get them onboard, making sure that the communication lines are much better. There are lots of benefits to this model, and one of the things that attracted me to it was the fact that it is so common-sense; why haven't we been working this way all along? And I think that it probably will be adopted up and down the country. Do it, join!

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