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Our benefits

When we thought about our workforce strategy – the way that we would set ourselves apart from other organisations – we wanted to something different. We wanted to create a platform to build an exceptional ‘offer’ to everyone that joins us, something that could grow as we mature, something that we could enhance to recognise the changing demands of social care and most importantly…something we could all be proud of.

Like everything in Sandwell, it started with a conversation. What was important to our colleagues? What were their personal aspirations and ambitions? What would help us make Sandwell the place to be…a place where people flourish?

We gathered all of the feedback, we looked around to see what the very best in all sectors were doing, and the ’12 Reasons to work in Sandwell Children’s Trust’ were born.

Like all great strategies, the 12 Reasons is dynamic. The framework enables us to think creatively about the way we recognise, reward and support our staff. 

Scroll down to see how the 12 Reasons could benefit you. 

Open the links below to see what have been doing with our 12 Reasons…and check back regularly!

Reason 1: You'll be part of a new Trust, a new beginning

We wanted to:

  • Be small enough to be a tight knit unit, but large enough to offer fantastic opportunities
  • Use the fresh start afforded by the Trust to be brave with our processes and practices
  • Be aspirational for our children, young people and families
  • Change the ‘Sandwell’ story and prove that we will not allow our past to define our future
  • Reset our relationship with our regulators
  • Develop the relationship with our partners to get the very best for the people we support

So far we have:

  • Raised our profile on social media, this helps us promote good news and tell our story
  • Changed the perceptions of Ofsted and HMI Probation
  • Explored opportunities with partners to improve our offer – Driving lessons, apprenticeships and fairer treatment for our care leavers
  • Brought smiles to the faces of thousands of children and young people at Christmas and Easter through working with charities and partners
  • Been recognised for our innovation in Youth Offending and Family Group Conferencing
  • Embedded the foundations of practice and participation and auditing
  • Refined our Improvement Plan
Reason 2: You'll sign up to our clear vision and purpose

We wanted to:

  • Make sure our purpose of ‘improving the lives of children and young people’ was understood and owned by everyone working in the Trust.
  • Make sure that the children, young people and families we support understand what our purpose means to them
  • Make it is easy as possible for the people we work with to tell us how they are feeling
  • Put the child’s voice at the very heart of everything we do

So far we have:

  • Developed the ‘How Can I Help You’ Participation Strategy, the principals of which have been adopted by the Sandwell partnership
  • Enhanced the customer feedback procedure to make it accessible, inclusive and meaningful
  • Listened to children and young people when they told us they wanted an easier way to tell us how they are feeling
  • Built our practice around the things that matter to children and young people
  • Have made sure the child’s voice is always informing our recruitment and induction of staff, our auditing process and the way that we develop the skills of our foster carers
  • Co-designed and co-delivered events with our young people
Reason 3: You'll work with inspirational, visible leadership and great management

We wanted to:

  • Have a stable, permanent and committed leadership team that knows the organisation
  • Develop a strong, supportive and challenging Board
  • Ensure that leaders at all levers are connected, visible and approachable
  • Build the right structure to provide the support that our workforce needs
  • Create an environment where meaningful supervision takes place
  • Our Improvement Plan asks us to ensure that there is the required management capacity for appropriate oversight and direction of casework and that all staff have supervision at the required frequency

So far we have:

  • Regular virtual engagement events from our leadership team
  • Regular blog from the Chief Executive provides an informal narrative for staff
  • Regular and robust communications about what matters
  • Executive Management Team (EMT) hold meetings in different locations across the Trust – a great way to get to know staff better (suspended during the pandemic)
  • Supervision for Frontline workers has increased 
  • Service Managers have been introduced, and a new Head of Service structure has been implemented which provides the support our Team Managers need
  • The Trust Board have regular seminars with staff, teams and young people to better understand the business
  • There is always a Director at Practice Improvement Board – a direct line to the top
  • Extended EMT, Manager Briefings, Staff conferences and awards celebrations… demonstrating that we are all in this together
Reason 4: You'll be joining a learning organisation

We wanted to:

  • Enable every member of staff in the Trust to participate in 15 days professional development
  • Offer learning placements for staff looking to experience something new or expand their knowledge
  • Have a great induction process that would set the scene in Sandwell
  • Develop a learning offer that would be inclusive, proving development opportunities for everyone working in the Trust…whatever their role
  • Make links with partners and institutions to be make sure we are always at the cutting edge

So far we have:

  • Introduced Frontline (encouraging new talent into social work) and Firstline (growing the skills of our management team) programmes.
  • Invested in the practice supervisors development programme (PSDP)
  • Implemented the learning hub and brochure, an inclusive offer for all staff including foster carers. The core offer was informed by Beyond Auditing, Quality Assurance and managers across the Trust
  • Developed and implemented the Practice Framework and model – the blueprints for improving practice within our organisation
  • Established the Qualification Sponsorship programme, providing opportunities for our staff outside of the core training offer
  • Successfully bidding for an improvement fund from the DfE, this money will support our learning aspirations
  • Regular learning events, from small courses to large scale ‘need to know’ events
  • 1131 in house training sessions were attended between Jan-Dec 2019. 463 members of staff attended an average of 3.36 days formal training each
Reason 5: You'll have manageable case loads

We wanted to:

  • Make sure that social workers had an average of 15-18 cases to allow them to focus on the children and families they are working with
  • Commit to lower cases for ASYEs and other roles, to allow them to focus on their development
  • Demonstrate to the local and national social work community that we were listening to staff who told us that case loads was really important

So far we have:

  • We safely removed around 600 Children in Need cases from the system by introducing a peripatetic team
  • We have increased the number of Social Care Assistants in Care Management, freeing up social workers
  • Life Story work has been completed for 121 children, taking the burden from social workers
  • Realigning Early Help social workers to higher demand areas
  • Introduced a Court Team
  • Improvement consultant working across the Trust to increase efficiency and effectiveness in all areas.
Reason 6: You'll have opportunities for excellent career progression

We wanted to:

  • Offer a clear and supported route to progress, supported by innovative programmes like Frontline and Firstline
  • Make the Trust the place that people would flourish, where the investment in them is rewarded by their loyalty

So far we have:

  • Our workforce strategy has been developed
  • A progression policy for social workers to move from F to G grade has been implemented
  • All opportunities are promoted internally for continued professional development
  • We have several secondment and acting up opportunities
  • We are working towards a great new ASYE offer (Assessed and Supported Year Employment). Our current ASYE cohort have been consulted and are helping to shape our new offer.
  • Aspiring managers and new managers are all getting the opportunity to go onto the PSDP course. PSW has started meeting with new inexperienced managers to support their learning.
Reason 7: You'll be joining a stable and permanent workforce

We wanted to:

  • Develop a stable and dedicated workforce that is truly committed to Sandwell
  • Retain an important element of flexibility, with a target of 20% agency staff
  • Become the region’s employer of choice, showcase our differences in a crowded market
  • Work with recruitment specialists to innovate
  • Our Improvement Plan requires us to increase the social care workforce to ensure that caseloads are manageable across the service and to Strengthen the approach to attraction, recruitment and retention

So far we have:

 

  • Attracted newly qualified social workers (NQSW)
  • Ongoing recruitment in all areas – developed and rolled out a recruitment campaign.
  • Social media channels have been used to spread our recruitment message
  • Streamlined the process for gaining authorisation to recruit
  • Partnered with recruitment agencies Liquid and HCL
  • Digital marketing campaign led by Diva Creative that has used Google Adwords to target social workers. Since we started, over 10,000 people have clicked our advert
  • In the 2018 Employee Engagement survey, staff told us they were 53.5% satisfied with our performance against this reason
  • Reviewed and increased social work establishment based on demand
Reason 8: You'll enjoy competitive rewards and fantastic employee benefits

We wanted to:

  • Develop a pay and reward package that would set us apart from our competitors
  • Attract new talent and become the employer of choice
  • Understand the social work marketplace and be in a position to tailor our offer
  • Make a compelling case for agency staff to consider becoming permanent

So far we have:

 

  • Implemented a market supplement of £2500 per year in Care Management
  • Funded Social Work England registration for all social workers 
  • Partnered with Sandwell Council to enhance and rebrand the benefits package available to permanent staff
    • This includes an exclusive retail discount portal
    • Cycle2work scheme
    • Salary sacrifice for phones and computers
    • Discounted gym memberships
  • Implemented a refer a friend scheme that pays £1500
  • Generous relocation package which is promoted through recruitment marketing
Reason 9: You'll have a state of the art laptop and user friendly IT systems

We wanted to:

  • Make sure that all staff get a fit for purpose computer. Social Workers would all get a laptop and a smartphone
  • Continue to enhance the Liquid Logic case management system
  • Use the Office 365 suite of applications to connect our workforce
  • Reduce the number of ICT related issues

So far we have:

  • Given every member of staff a Lenovo L13 Yoga touch screen 2 in 1 laptop
  • Worked with ICT to ensure applications and operating systems continue to be supported
  • Made enhancements and improvements to the LCS/eCAF Case Management Systems and ContrOCC Financial Systems, including
  • Connected National Child Protection Information System
  • Integrated LLPG for much improved address data
  • Front Door Systematic Redesign
  • NHS Number Loader to incorporate NHS Numbers and improved data matching
  • Upgraded to ContrOCC V12 to include enhanced payments functionality
  • Developed LCS Workspaces and Pathways
  • Deployed PAMs Assessment Software
  • Implemented tablets to the Fostering Panel to streamline their process
Reason 10: You'll have access to great accommodation

We wanted to:

  • Provide a great working environment for all staff
  • Ensure our flagship offices were refurbished and branded with Trust identity
  • Have an agreed approach to agile and flexible working
  • Collaborate with partners to make the most of shared spaces

So far we have:

  • Learned lessons from the pandemic – we are working to establish flexible office spaces that encourage collaboration and creativity
  • Refurbished three of our headquarter sites
  • Worked with building groups to establish a working desk ratio
  • Responded to need for additional blue badge car parking spaces
  • Worked with partners to redecorate and furnish the Hollies Contact Centre
  • Worked with Council and Neighbourhoods staff to relocate Rowley Regis COG to Blackheath Library
  • Implemented agile working policy
  • Regular building groups with Health & Safety, Trade Unions and staff
  • Set up a family room for children and young people

 

Reason 11: You'll enjoy a good life / work balance

We wanted to:

  • Introduce flexible and family friendly policies
  • Consider non standard shift patterns to enable our staff to work around their commitments

So far we have:

  • Enabled all staff to work flexibly, supported by technology and policy
  • Established Health and Wellbeing group and accommodation group – looking at our future ways of working
  • Created time and space for conversations in supervision

 

Reason 12: You'll be well looked after

We wanted to:

  • Create a culture where we appreciate each other
  • Establish a range of wellbeing interventions and initiatives that put our staff first
  • Make ‘thankyou’ part of our language…find different ways to say it every day!
  • Offer a range of support for staff when times get tough
  • Create an environment that feels like a family!

So far we have:

  • Hosted 2 staff awards celebrations where teams from across the Trust got together to recognise each other’s achievements
  • Ensured our buildings have breakout space…we all need time away from the screen!
  • Weekly wellbeing messages packed full of tips and tricks
  • Wellbeing conference for all staff, an inclusive day packed with practical tips
  • Set up a Heritage, Ethnicity and Diversity group for staff of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds
  • Celebrate diversity
  • Prioritised the safety of our frontline staff – arrangeing fast track testing and vaccinations as well as providing bulk sets of PPE
  • Established a representative health and wellbeing group
  • Host regular virtual social events – even during lockdown
  • Trained mental health first aider
  • Represented on the council disability support group and recognised as a Disability Confident Employer
  • Regular compliments sessions with Chief Executive, you are invited if you have received a compliment
  • Regular blog and contact from the leadership team
  • Employee engagement survey with questions that ask…how are you?
  • Partnered with the council to promote the support available – from counselling to physiotherapy
  • Created our wellbeing illustration and wellbeing poster to promote our approach to wellbeing