Social worker praises council for inspiration to pursue career

Mar 20, 2023 | Local News

This World Social Work Week (20 to 24 March), a woman working in County Durham has spoken of how her own experiences influenced her decision to become a social worker.

Aimee Smith started working permanently as a social worker with Durham County Council after a placement during the coronavirus pandemic encouraged her to take up a role in social work.

Growing up, the 25-year-old and her family were also supported by CLIC Sargent, a charity which provides cancer support to young people, which inspired Aimee to pursue a career in which she could provide support to others.

While studying a degree in social work, Aimee took a placement with the council’s families first team, which coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Aimee said: “I thrive being around people and going to new places, so I gained experience across adult social care working with people with different needs. I worked with people with dementia or learning difficulties; victims and survivors of domestic abuse; people facing homelessness; and people with significant mental health issues.

“The pandemic meant there was a higher need for social care, so I was able to work at the council throughout this time, gain a lot of experience, and get the most out of a longer placement. Working with the family first team also made me realise that I wanted to continue working specifically with children.”

Aimee now has a full-time role at the council working in the children with disabilities team, which she began in September 2021.

She recently met the Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan during a visit to the county, where she told the minister how rewarding she found her role.

She added: “Working with children is a highlight for me, they just brighten your day. It’s also an honour for me that families allow you into their homes to help them when they are dealing with difficult issues in their lives.”

Aimee also praised the council for the support it has given her throughout her placement, degree, and employment.

The council recently received a gold award for Supportive Social Work Employer of the Year at the Social Worker of the Year Awards, and this week the team has been invited to Westminster to acknowledge the high commendation.

The council also received positive ratings from its staff for the third year in a row through the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Social Work Health Check.

The annual survey allows social work staff to rate their employers across eight areas, including workload management, staff wellbeing, quality of supervision, and training and development opportunities.

For the third year in a row, social workers for adults in County Durham rated their employer ‘good’ against all eight standards, saying they felt supported and cared for by their supervisor.

Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “World Social Work Week is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing social work staff we have in County Durham where, like Aimee, they are dedicated to helping people, children and families across the county.”

Cllr Chris Hood, Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “Social work is a challenging but rewarding profession which makes a huge difference to people’s lives. Making sure our staff also feel supported in their work is a key priority for us, so that they feel they can continue making a positive impact for others.”

To find out more about current vacancies in social care in County Durham, visit www.durham.gov.uk/jobsandcareers