Sophie – Adult Social Worker/Service Manager

What was your first job?

My first job was working in Primark whilst I was in 6th form. 

How did you get to your current role?

Becoming a social worker was very accidental for me – after doing much worse in my A levels than predicted, I found myself with no offers to go to university and I needed to get a job – quick! I registered with an employment agency for administrative jobs, and after doing various roles for 3 months, I was asked to interview for a 9 month admin job for the local council. It wasn’t until I arrived, that I was aware that the job was for a busy adult social care team. I worked there for 9 months and got to know more about the role, interacting with individuals accessing the services and their families, as well as observing meetings. It was this job that sparked my interest in care and supporting others, and so I applied to University to do a psychology degree. I attended for half a term, before realising I wanted to pursue social work career and so (for a third time!) I applied for a University course and was lucky enough to be able to transfer to the social work course at the University I was already studying at.  

After graduating I worked for several local authorities in various parts of the country, including an Integrated Community Learning Disabilities Team, an Initial Response Team and a Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub. I have worked as a social worker, Senior Practitioner and Service Manager, having been lucky enough to have progressed to various roles within Adult Social Care. 

Did you move across different career paths?

After a few years of doing various jobs, I eventually found myself on the Social Work degree, but continued to work during my degree in various roles, including admin and domiciliary care. For me, aside from weekend roles in retail before I finished 6th form, most of the jobs I’ve done have been in admin or care – both of which provided me with transferable knowledge and skills to work in social care. I have worked in a Children’s Residential home so have also experienced working with children and young people as well as adults. 

Did you face any challenges to get to where you are now?

When I did badly in my A levels, I found myself at a loss of what to do. I’d planned to go to Uni to study one subject and had a whole plan set out in my mind of where I wanted to go career wise. When I didn’t get in, I was devastated and didn’t know what to do. I think having 2 years off before I started my social work degree allowed me time to gain invaluable experience. 

As I’ve continued in my career, I’ve come to feel that there’s no shame in being 18 and changing your mind about what you want to do, or actually changing your career path at any time in your life – we work for a long time; it pays to be happy in what you do. 

Social care (whether it’s working as a social worker, carer, occupational therapist or community care worker to name a few roles) can be incredibly challenging but without doubt, it’s also rewarding in so many ways.  

What do you do now?

Currently, I am temporarily managing two Adult Care Teams; one is a triage team with social workers, community care workers and occupational therapists – the other is managing a team of home care schedulers who arrange packages of care for the local authority. 

One of the great things about working in social care for a local authority is the opportunity to move into temporary jobs on secondment, allowing you to gain experience and knowledge of different roles without having to commit long term, and allowing you to have the security of having a job to return to. 

What is it about your job that inspires you?

The people I work with inspire me every day; whether it’s the individuals themselves, their families, or the other professionals I work with. 

As a social worker you are privileged position of being there to support people, sometimes, at their worst and most vulnerable times. That’s an incredible responsibility, and I always feel proud to know that you may have made even a small difference to a person and their family. 

Every single day, without fail, I come across an individual who is fighting hard to maintain their independence, or someone who might have overcome a traumatic event, or a family member or friend who carers for someone without complaint and with so much compassion and love. In addition, I work with professionals in various roles who, like me, share a passion for helping people achieve their goals and this never fails to inspire me. 

What is positive to you about working for Derbyshire County Council?

As a worker, I have always felt supported by my immediate managers and seniors. I’ve been lucky to be based in various teams in Derbyshire with colleagues who are friendly and from whom I continue to learn. 

Flexible working and a great allocation of annual leave have always been attractive to me, as it allows me to have a good work life balance.

I’ve been offered the opportunity to progress in my career and within Derbyshire County Council, I’ve been able to work as a Social Worker, Senior Practitioner and Service Manager and have gained invaluable experience.