Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to make a difference to children’s lives
Ami works as a Special Guardianship Social Worker at South Gloucestershire Council. She joined in 2006, with 10 years of experience as a children’s social worker.
‘When I joined South Gloucestershire, Special Guardianships were very new. I was trusted and empowered to develop our approach, which was extremely rewarding and gave me great confidence in myself and helped me grow and develop my skills.’
For Ami, it’s a real plus knowing that the council is committed to investing in her and fully supports her to follow her chosen career pathway.
‘It’s been a great place to build my experience and grow my career. Although my role is a relatively niche area of social work, I’ve always been able to access training courses and networking opportunities that I’ve identified as relevant for my role.’
Ami’s passion for what she does shines through when she talks about her work.
‘Everyone here is really passionate about what we do. The senior managers are accessible. we have regular catchups, giving us the chance to talk directly with them and work together to address issues. That kind of responsiveness is really empowering. Just knowing that they understand issues and having them tell you that you’re doing a grand job, really helps.
Whilst working through the pandemic was undoubtedly challenging, Ami feels that South Gloucestershire’s focus on supporting staff, and looking after their wellbeing, made an enormous difference during the crisis and lockdowns.
‘From the top down, managers care deeply about staff wellbeing and there are lots of resources available if you need them. The council reacted really quickly to Covid. When we were first asked to work from home, they got equipment out to us straightaway and provided lots of support to help us adapt to working remotely. I didn’t know how to make a call using Skype or Teams, I never had to! But IT were helpful, and we were set up quickly.
‘The council buildings were reconfigured really well for Covid restrictions, enabling us to come in and have meet face to face meetings safely. It was clearly set out what you had to do, following one-way systems, using allocated desks and so on, so you felt safe when you did go in.’
The pandemic has meant changes to ways of working, but Ami says these have been developed through listening to the needs of social workers and she and her colleagues are now working to embed the positives from this experience into their practice.
‘Individual teams have agreed the best approach for them and the families they work with – for us, we plan to keep the flexibility of home working, but also ensuring we keep up regular team meetings We’ve embraced hybrid meetings – we’ve had team meetings where half the people are in the room and half are on the screen, dialled in from home and it works really well!
‘Before we moved to home working, when I was doing home visits, I used to have to go back into offices between visits so that I could log on and write up a report or send emails. Now, with remote access to council systems, I don’t have to do that anymore, which means less time on admin and a greater focus on families.’
Ami is positive about the experience of staying long term with South Gloucestershire Council. She comments: ‘I love my job – I feel very humble about working with people who’ve decided to give up a sizeable chunk of their lives for children who otherwise would have been adopted or remained in care. It’s a privilege to help make a difference for them.
‘Because I’ve been here so long, I’m in touch with families where I’ve watched and helped the children grow up, flourish and make a real success of their lives. I love seeing the impact that I can have and the difference my support is making in children and families’ lives.’