Ssc Casestudy 1000x800px Hertfordshire

Case Study: Hertfordshire County Council

By Gemma Raw

“Sanctuary built us our excellent microsite and got our recruitment up and running in record time. The work undertaken has been first class...we have the lowest rates of social work vacancies we have had in a decade” - Sue Williams, Director of Family Safeguarding at Hertfordshire County Council

Client objectives

During Summer 2015, Sanctuary Personnel worked with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) as a recruitment partner for its Family Safeguarding Project. The project received a £4.9m grant from the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme after HCC was successful in its bid to develop and pilot one of the most significant redesigns of social care services.

From HCC’s research they found the specialisation of adult and children’s services could mean some families were not supported as well as they should be. 

As a first-of-its-kind collaboration across HCC and partnering agencies in health and social care, the Family Safeguarding Project focuses on the highest-risk children and families in Hertfordshire, improving protection and their life chances, as well as achieving significant savings of taxpayers’ money. 

Our strategy

The project placed a huge responsibility on effective and timely recruitment. Sanctuary Social Care was contracted to resource 22 Family Safeguarding Teams. These included children’s social workers, assessment team managers, domestic violence specialists, substance misuse professionals and nurses (as well as psychologists, occupational therapists, and psychiatric social workers). 

Unique project challenges

This way of working had never been done before, therefore the roles, or even an awareness of the service, didn’t exist. 

HCC had also set out a very strict timeline, with the launch of the project scheduled just three weeks after Sanctuary was selected. 

Our solution

From our initial meetings with HCC, listening carefully to the brief, the plans for the project and, most importantly, their desired outcomes. We decided the project needed its own identity before we could start attracting the right candidates – but Sanctuary had to act swiftly. 

Our in-house marketing team consists of specialists in creative design, digital, content, public relations and event and project management. With exceptional market knowledge and reach across the relevant specialist sectors, the team were well-equipped to develop and deliver a bespoke marketing campaign to access relevant talent pools. This included the creation of a new brand identity, logo, microsite, PR campaign, and digital advertising. We also featured the Family Safeguarding Project in two issues of Sanctuary Social Work News, our quarterly digital and printed magazine distributed to over 60,000 social work contacts.

Throughout the campaign, our marketing team worked closely with our specialist recruitment consultants, who have been recruiting for our client for several years. They are familiar with the local areas, its services and ways to attract candidates. For example, some of Hertfordshire’s office locations were easier to recruit for than others, so our recruitment consultants investigated commuter links from neighbouring areas. Our marketing team supported this with an interactive map on the microsite, along with accessible information on various transport links. As a result, we have even attracted a domestic abuse specialist to commute from as far as Norfolk.

Extensive health and social care reach

Having consultants who specialise in the recruitment of social workers, health professionals and criminal justice professionals under one roof enabled us to identify a niche pool of candidates. For example, the substance misuse professionals we recruited for the project had to have safeguarding experience. Not only was this rare, but it wasn’t readily identified by candidates. We had to dig deeper into the career history of those with broader experience to see if they had crossed paths with a safeguarding service or had worked closely with them in the past.  

The success of this campaign was built on a close partnership between HCC and Sanctuary. Everyone from senior management and HR to those in sales, marketing and compliance, were kept informed of needs and progress. This encouraged unique approaches to recruitment and an entirely bespoke service for our client. 


Sanctuary’s delivery of a brand image, logo and bespoke microsite within just three weeks meant job opportunities could be promoted through our various marketing channels as soon as the project launched. 

The results were imminent with the microsite receiving 3,000 visits in the first six weeks. 

Working in true partnership with HCC, Sanctuary was able to attract candidates nationwide to work within Hertfordshire and even relocate. This allowed our client unrivalled access to a talent pool of potential candidates in order to cherry pick the strongest applicants for what were unique roles. 

Not only did the campaign meet the strict quality requirements of the job roles, but its timely delivery to help resource complete multidisciplinary teams enabled the phased delivery of the project.

Ultimately, the success of this recruitment campaign was built on years of providing a specialist recruitment service to HCC and its partners. This gave us a unique footing to understand and meet their needs in a collaborative project, which would be beyond the reach of any other recruitment agency. 

“We knew from the outset that recruitment would be our biggest challenge – where would the professionals we wanted to reach look for roles like ours, when the service was unique and therefore unknown? We also had very challenging timescales as the DfE funding is for one year, so we needed to get our service up and running fast or we would not be able to prove our new way of working was effective. Sanctuary built an excellent microsite and got our recruitment up and running in record time. They also publicised our roles and project in their in-house magazine and directly mailed relevant professionals to make them aware of our opportunities. The work undertaken by them has been first class. From the design work for our logo, the choice of colours, pictures, wording and the graphics to the recommendations on advertising and assistance with negotiating discounts with media, we could not have had a higher quality service. 

“We have the lowest rates of social work vacancies we have had in a decade and have attracted high quality candidates that have understood what we aim to achieve and been full of enthusiasm to join us in our ambition to transform how child protection is delivered in Hertfordshire.” - Sue Williams, Director of Family Safeguarding at Hertfordshire County Council