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With a thriving social work department, forward-looking and innovative, with a nurturing environment for newly-qualified staff, Hounslow is looking to recruit additional personnel within its children and young persons team. A passionate advocate of delivering high quality services to children and young people and ‘hearing their voices’, Jacqui McShannon was pivotal in setting up Hounslow’s Corporate Parenting Panel and has worked for the authority for a number of years.

Currently Director for Children’s Safeguarding and Specialist Service, she outlines the opportunities that await.

What is the appeal of working as a social worker in Hounslow?

We are a small, lean, outer London authority, where every person counts: an authority where everybody is valued and has a contribution to make and knows they are working for the greater whole. Our management team is stable but has also been ‘refreshed’ by new additions: our senior managers are well-known to practitioners and vice-versa and characterised by their approachability and accessibility.

We hear that from our annual social work health check and get good feedback about the level of support and training, the visibility of managers and the culture in which people are working. Our elected members are also very supportive of what we do.

Can you talk about the strong nurturing environment at Hounslow?

We are very good at growing our own, promoting people and retaining people’s loyalty and commitment and we will help shape their careers. We have a strong ASYE (Assessed and Supported Year in Employment) programme, with good feedback from our newly-qualified social workers. We are part of the West London Alliance Step Up to Social Work and we have a big emphasis on training.

This year we are working with the Centre for Systemic Social Work to offer training to 25 social work practitioners over a two-year period. Our practice learning is very hands-on, and we have practice champions who work particularly with NQSWs, and also help colleagues address challenging areas like recording, chronology and genograms.

What about career development for more senior personnel?

We have clear career progression and help people to develop areas of interest. We have advanced practitioner posts which social workers can apply for in areas such as domestic abuse, or other areas of interest, where they then coach, mentor and train other practitioners, and we promote the idea of practice leaders.

At Hounslow, we recognise we have different roles and responsibilities and there is clear intersectionality between them. In addition, we are part of the West London Teaching Partnership and have posts that allow practitioners to research an area of interest and contribute to how training is delivered at university but also to run practice development training in-house. That has been very successful.

What about additional opportunities for social workers?

We had a joint targeted area inspection last year and following on from that Ofsted has asked us to contribute to round table discussions, and we have an advanced practitioner who leads on Domestic Abuse. We also free up social workers to contribute to a One Stop Shop where victims of domestic abuse can meet with a range of professionals and get legal and child welfare advice and social workers are given time to deliver Let’s Talk programmes for children who have experienced domestic abuse.

We try to free up our social workers wherever we can to develop their interests for example Safeguarding Team social workers set up and run a group for adolescent girls at risk of CSE

Which areas are you actively looking to attract more social workers into?
We have a stable workforce but we are seeing some people move on, usually after significant levels of service. We have a record of practitioners and managers returning to Hounslow.

Currently, we have team manager vacancies in the Intake and Safeguarding Teams.

We are particularly keen to have permanent staff in our safeguarding, support and corporate parenting teams because we are conscious about providing stability and continuity to children and young people. The safeguarding and support team work covers child protection, children in need and court work.

Within corporate parenting we are looking for social workers to work with young people who are 14+ and are particularly interested in working with adolescents and the leaving care team. Our elected members are very supportive of corporate parenting and have all signed up to the Hounslow Pledge, which is a list of promises we have made to children and young people in our care to make clear what services they can expect to receive from us as their corporate parents.

What is Hounslow like as an area to work in?

As an historic outer London borough, Hounslow is close to Heathrow and on the Piccadilly line with good transport links into central London.

The borough also features modern housing estates, quiet suburbs, green belt villages and has fashionable cosmopolitan districts too. It has some of the most beautiful parks and open spaces in London with no fewer than five historic houses and landscape gardens. We are reasonably close to the river and it is less busy than other parts of the capital. The schools are good or outstanding. More than 140 languages are spoken in a very diverse borough with lots of active, engaged, communities and our social workers love the opportunities that offers, and our workforce is also diverse and reflects that.

The Council is embarking upon a major programme of change to modernise the way we work and reduce our carbon footprint.

We will be moving to a new landmark building in 2019 located in Hounslow town centre, and our new technology will enable staff to work remotely and flexibly to improve the service we provide to residents and to help our staff achieve a better work/life balance.

What about the future?

We are totally committed to making continuous improvements for children and young people in terms of their experiences and outcomes. We may not necessarily be outstanding but there is no complacency in Hounslow; we are very motivated, driven, open, honest and ambitious with children and young people and are an authority that is constantly looking to improve and develop.

Morale is high among our social workers, but we also know in some areas our cases are high and we are now looking at increased capacity, particularly in safeguarding and support teams.

Apply today

Find out more about the latest permanent vacancies available at Hounslow Borough Council here or call 0333 7000 026 to speak with a consultant.
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