I had the opportunity to visit the Buttsgrove centre in Huntingdon. An odd building more like a rabbit warren than usable office space but it did have the benefit of being located in an area of need.
I met a number of staff who look after each of the stages of supporting families and in particular the children. Social work has for a long time had bad press. If staff don’t act fast enough they are criticised and equally if they act too fast they are seen as interfering and breaking up families. A tough ask and a fine line to walk in a very complex and emotional area.
What I did find were dedicated, well motivated staff focused on not just the needs of the children but of the families as well. These staff are on the front line of supporting some of our most vulnerable families.
I was keen to explore the organisation structure and the rational behind how things are. Most of it all makes sense to me but there were a couple of organisation issues that I could not work out which I will be following up on later.
Interestingly, staff were very keen to share with me, with some pride, their achievements. This felt like a part of the organisation that was on top of their game and not only giving huge reassurance that the young people of the county have an effective safety net but were also value for money. Keeping families together, where ever possible, makes sense for the children and for society as a whole.
A great visit.
One nagging thought. I keep reading comments in the papers and on line that seem to suggest councils are always rubbish. I am concluding that those people who make those sort of comments are either stuck in a time warp from long ago or are commenting about a different council. I am seeing, a professional, well run, dedicated work force that compares favourably with my experience of the private sector. I will ponder how we can show this positive side more effectively and give reassurance to the doubters.