Recruitment drive looks to address Sunderland’s social worker shortage

A recruitment event is to be staged to appoint new social workers to boost the ranks of Wearside’s children’s services.

Together for Children (TfC) is hosting the event as it looks to expands its team, with the issues it has faced in taking on and retaining staff among the concerns highlighted in the latest Ofsted report.
Its latest inspection, published in July, said child and family social work is challenged by the continued heavy reliance on agency staff, with the demand for permanent staff in Sunderland outstripping supply.

Jill Colbert, chief executive of Together for Children.

Jill Colbert, chief executive of Together for Children.

Figures in May showed it spent more than £6 million on agency staff, paying 167 temporary staff during its first year of business in 2017/18 after it was formed to take on responsibility for the department by Sunderland City Council.
A Freedom of Information request showed this included 97 social workers at a cost of £4,282,958 – an average of £44,154.21 per social worker.

Now it is looking to add around 20 permanent workers, who must each be social care qualified with two to three years experience, with the effort under way as it addresses the concerns raised by Ofsted.

It also found the service remained inadequate for children who need help and protection, leadership, management and governance, while it gave a ‘requires improvement’ rating to children looked after and achieving permanence along with experiences and progress of care leavers.

Its adoption performance was described as good.

We’re looking for experienced social workers who are ready for their next challenge and ready to make a difference to the lives of children and young people in Sunderland.

Jill Colbert

The social evening is aimed at those already qualified and will give them the chance to meet the senior management team, as well as social workers already with the service to find out more in an informal setting.

It is looking for those to staff its assessment team, which evaluates new referrals and carries out the initial tasks needed to put care in place, as well as its locality teams, who are based across Sunderland and take responsibility for the everyday service given to youngsters.

Earlier this month Jill Colbert, the newly appointed chief executive of TfC, revealed her plans to turn the service around.
Today, she said: “We’re looking for experienced social workers who are ready for their next challenge and ready to make a difference to the lives of children and young people in Sunderland.

“We’re opening our doors so that anyone who is keen to find out more about a career with us can come along, meet the team and ask any questions they have.

“We offer a competitive package including flexible working, a supportive team environment and ongoing training and development opportunities.

“I’d encourage any experienced social workers who are interested to come along and find out more.”

The open evening takes place from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday, September 27, at the Bunnyhill Primary Care Centre, Hylton Lane, Sunderland.

For more information visit www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/work-us.