Four talented graduates have joined the City of Wolverhampton Council and are embarking on a career in children’s social work as part of a new training and development programme.
The council was one of a number in the Midlands to team up with the charity Frontline to give high potential graduates and career changers a unique route into the profession, through which they will benefit from intensive practical and academic training tailored to their needs.
Dozens of people applied to take part across the region with successful candidates Megan Rimmer, Natalia Rawlings, Satvir Panesar and Rob Whatton spending five weeks at a summer training camp before joining the City of Wolverhampton Council earlier this month.
They will be with the council for two years, undertaking face-to-face work with service users and their families while qualifying as a social worker in their first year and working towards a full Master's qualification in year two.
Although the focus of their work will be within children’s social care services, the quartet will also be given experience of adult social care services and adult mental health services during their time in the City of Wolverhampton.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We are determined to offer the best possible help and support to children, young people and their families in Wolverhampton, and one of the ways we can do this is improve the recruitment and retention of our social workers.
“We are therefore very pleased to be working with Frontline on this important programme, which is pioneering a new approach to bringing talented individuals into the profession.
“The on-the-job training will not only ensure the graduates feel confident in what is a very challenging role, but will also help us further improve the already high standard of children's social work practice in Wolverhampton.
“I would like to welcome Megan, Natalia, Satvir and Rob to the City of Wolverhampton Council and wish them the very best as they embark on their social work careers.”
Megan, who has been working in Children’s Services at the council for the last 10 years, said: “This was a great opportunity for me to train as a social worker. The important thing is that Frontline is not just about learning, but it’s about the practice. We’ve completed the summer school and now we’re into practice, but we will continue to learn the theory as we go forward.”
Rob said: “I’ve not come from a social work background but my parents fostered so it seemed to be a natural thing to do. Frontline came up in a list of the top graduate opportunities and it caught my eye so I applied for it.
“I think the main benefit of the Frontline programme is the number of days we have in-practice on the job – at least 200 throughout the first year which is more than any other training programme into social work.”
Satvir said: “We’ve only been here for a couple of weeks but we’ve already been given cases to work on and been out to see the families which we are supporting. We are also holding unit meetings where we discuss issues on a case-by-case basis and this is a great way to share best practice.”
Natalia added: “Before I came here, I was working for a company that was very corporate, they didn’t care about people at all. I wanted to work with a company that actually works for the people, so as I saw the Frontline programme, I thought ‘yeah I’ve got to apply for that!’.”
The quartet will be supported in their roles by consultant social worker Leanne Broxton.
Lord Adonis, Frontline’s Chair, said: "Social workers are crucial to improving the life chances of vulnerable children, and it is vital that we continue to address the national challenge in getting more top talent into the profession. Frontline makes a real difference to the lives of children and families throughout the country.”