Placing people first
You'll always be more than a number to us. You are there for people when they are at their most vulnerable. By finding you a role that allows you to be the very best version of your professional self, we like to think we are doing our bit to help. It’s simple; we care because you do.
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At Sanctuary Social Care, we pair our candidates with roles we know are a direct match to their skills, knowledge, experience and future aspirations.
Sanctuary Social Care worked closely with me to understand how my work in referral and assessment at Doncaster was directly transferable to the role advertised at Rotherham.
Child Sexual Exploitation Manager
I would not hesitate to recommend Sanctuary to others as I have personally experienced a service and support over and above what has been expected.
Mark at Sanctuary Social Care is the best recruiter I’ve ever had. He’s responsive. He identifies exactly the type of job I want and social work I need and works hard and promptly to secure it.
Social Work Manager
My Sanctuary consultant has so much gravity and common sense in his approach to his work. He is polite, quick on the uptake, innovative and very motivational.
How VR software can give you the benefit of hindsight
Last year, the Cornerstone Partnership conducted a thorough pilot trial, featuring 30 councils and care organisations with more than 500 professionals. The trial was to determine if virtual reality (VR) could improve the life chances of children in care and children who have experienced attachment-related trauma. The results were clear; 91% of participants believed that VR can change the perspective of carers and adopters, whilst 85% believed that the use of VR could help them to make quicker decisions. A staggering 72% said that they would do things differently as a result of the training whilst six out of ten social workers felt that they had increased their own understanding of the experiences and feelings of children.We were extremely excited when we were invited by CEO Helen Costa to visit the Cornerstone Partnership’s offices in London to try this new software for ourselves. After all, how effective could a simulated computer scene really be?With minimal experience of virtual reality software, it was with trepidation that we each put the headset on. To help us adjust to the 360-degree experience, we were suddenly transformed to the plains of Africa where a herd of elephants walked calmly towards us. The experience was certainly surreal; wherever we moved our heads the scene was all-encompassing. Sales Director Charles Hamilton had warned us that it really would “isolate the senses” and he was right – it was hard to believe that we were sat in a central London location!The Cornerstone Partnership currently has a set of 12 videos which are designed to help professionals understand the real impact of childhood trauma. Each video varies in length from three to seven minutes, and each video gives you a powerfully immersive experience of what life is like for an abused child. Users can gain an in-depth insight into an abused child’s development, starting from in utero, through to the early years and school years, which helps them to understand situations from the child’s perspective. The result was undeniably powerful; there were times when we naturally gasped out loud and grabbed hold of the seat in shock at what we were seeing. In fact, the videos are so powerful that before we began the test, Helen had to issue a warning that these videos can, in fact, be a trigger for some professionals. Having viewed two separate videos, one which was aimed as a recruitment tool for potential foster carers, and one which is designed to be used by professionals, we sat down with both Helen and Charles to find out more about how social workers can take advantage of this exciting new software. Your virtual reality software is a ground-breaking method of allowing social workers and prospective foster parents to understand life from the perspective of a child. How was the technology developed to support the adoption and fostering process?We’re incredibly proud of the video content that we’ve developed and we’re continually working on plans to increase our video library. We’re actively trying to have more stakeholder input into future content; we want to be speaking with academics, professionals, law enforcement and even central government. We have this fantastic tool which can be used to address specific issues, so it’s vital that we focus upon the topics that resonate, and which can make a difference. These videos need to actively change beliefs and behaviours, so it’s important that we get them right. Our VR kit is a tool which can be used to get across someone’s experience in a safe environment. It allows people the benefit of hindsight as they can literally see how one experience can shape an individual. Therefore, we want to tackle contextual safeguarding; it’s about where things lead and from a foster parent perspective it could give a sense of help to handle other behaviours. There are so many issues we could explore with this technology; for instance, knife crime, CSE, county lines. The possibilities really are endless.We see this technology as a way of connecting with teenagers and young people by giving them the benefit of hindsight in a safe, controlled environment. Imagine if a young person is considering going out with a knife; we can show them where that path leads and what that outcome could be, without them going through with it. It could help them understand how decisions have consequences, and the interactivity of this kit would help them to fully understand the implications of those decisions. In our view, the headset is about starting conversations and explaining what children are thinking. It’s a new interactive style of media and feedback has been incredibly positive so far. What’s particularly exciting is that we can work with so many people to discover what the next layer of content should be – we’re always open to contributions from social workers if they feel that there is a subject which should be tackled.During your pilot trial, you helped 30 different local authorities to deliver VR interventions. What have been the biggest barriers to encouraging teams to utilise this software?We’ve been incredibly impressed with the impact of the software to date. Now, we have nearly 40 different local authorities signed up for our headsets and it’s been interesting to hear how different teams have had different experiences.What we have noticed is that if the local authorities have someone in a learning and development role with an interest in technology (perhaps a Director of Service or a CEO) then the process is a lot smoother. There’s still a perception that virtual reality is a gimmick, and often people don’t necessarily see the potential of using the headset as a tangible learning tool. But there is a strong learning element at play, and we’re fascinated by how different councils are using these kits in different ways.There is no rule book for how the headsets should be used. Everyone has a personal reaction to viewing the videos; for some people, they may be much better viewing in a quiet room where they can have an in-depth conversation afterward, whilst others may use the headsets as a conversation starter. We know that some authorities have used the headsets successfully at events which are designed to boost fostering recruitment, whilst others have found that the videos are so hard-hitting, it’s almost the opposite effect. They’re scared that the videos could put potential foster carers off. It’s a delicate balance. As we develop more content, there’ll be much more room to use the kit in various ways. The technology is only as good as the content library and we’re working hard to add more video content. You offer a Trauma Aware Service (TAS) which is specifically designed to help schools and educators understand childhood trauma. How have schools responded to this availability?It’s an unfortunate statistic that you’re five times more likely to be excluded from school if you’re living within the care system. It’s critical to keep these children in school as they’re more likely to be involved in grooming, exploitation or end up in a custodial setting. With the VR software, the teachers had the strongest reaction as in a reversal of their behaviour. The machines have been described as an “empathy machine” and it’s because you can really understand what that child has been through. For example, if a child mentions that “daddy is always shouting” then your own perception of this statement may be based upon just a loud voice. But if you’ve witnessed “daddy shouting” from the perspective of an abused child, and could see exactly how intimidating it could be, you really would change the way you react. We’re also interested to hear about your dedicated VR trauma awareness training for the legal profession. How did you identify this specific need and how has the feedback been from legal teams who tested it? This work has come from our contact with local authorities. Our feedback to date has been primarily anecdotal, with many judges simply saying “wow.”Within the family courts, there is a reluctance to take children into care, even if the social workers feel that the situation warrants it. This software can sway a judge from thinking about how they can “fix” problems and help them to understand the actual context of what is happening. Often the judges making the decisions don’t necessarily understand what impact neglect can have on a child – using our VR software can be a real “aha” moment for them. We know that neglect is one of the hardest traumas to recover from. It’s damaging as the child will feel completely worthless, and this changes their internal script which sets the tone for their future. If you feel worthless, you have no value to anyone and its difficult to make meaningful connections. This isn’t understood properly and it's impossible to get this across until someone watches a video like this. The choice that the judge makes is based on a more accurate understanding of what the report means, which leads to a different outcome and more informed decisions around matching. Equally, it’s just as relevant if you’re a social worker specialising in special guardianships. It can be easy to want children to stay within their family where possible, but there is a temptation to exaggerate the potential of that person’s ability to care for the child. Giving them this VR headset means that the potential guardian can recognise if they have been through a similar experience and understand if they are the right fit for the child. In our view, the real benefit of this technology is that it gives a realistic view of the person’s strengths as well as identifying areas where they could struggle. With this additional knowledge, it’s much easier to identify whether the placement is likely to succeed. What are the costs involved for local authorities or individual practitioners interested in investing in the VR software? We have two options available; we can work with entire teams to supply multiple headsets, or we can work with individual social workers, enabling them to become fully certified practitioners. Our individual package costs £3,750 per person. This cost includes full training, certification for a year, the full video content, the physical headset and backup from our team. We’re incredibly careful about who we allow to use our software because the videos can be a trigger for some people due to the harrowing content. We ensure that our practitioners are fully certified before they can take it away. On a team basis, we offer an entry-level package for £30,000 per year. This includes 12 headsets, and full certification training for 12 social workers, making it the ideal choice for teams. As well as offering the full video library and headsets, we ensure that each team can have an additional six days per year where we can work with them on any events that they may be hosting. We bring along additional headsets (if required) as well as helping to demonstrate the true value of virtual reality. Our feedback has told us that these events are often invaluable in demonstrating to executive teams exactly where the money is being spent. It allows them to “do something” and experience something that they haven’t seen anywhere else. To find out more about Cornerstone Partnership and their VR software, you can visit their website or alternatively you can call on 01628 636 376.
Securing employment opportunities for care leavers
In October 2018, the government announced the launch of the Care Leaver Covenant. The strategy has been designed to help those leaving the care system to live more independently, by opening new opportunities with some of the UK’s biggest businesses. Gareth Evans, Head of Partnerships at the Care Leaver Covenant, shares how the initiative has worked since it’s initial launch.Last issue, Ashley John Baptiste told Social Work News magazine that we need to inspire young people growing up in care to believe that they have “access to the same opportunities as their peers”. How is the Care Leaver Covenant working to achieve this?We work across five specific objectives; to live independently, to have access to employment, education, and training; to live safely and securely; to have access to healthcare and to have access to financial literacy training. These five strands anchor absolutely everything that we do. We believe that collectively they can enable a person leaving care to have a fulfilling life.We read Ashley’s interview with you, and what he spoke about is incredibly important. We speak to many people who are about to leave care, and we know that those who are facing the job market or those who are approaching independence often don’t have the same levels of confidence as their peers. It’s important that we help them build their self-worth so that they feel that they can apply for the same opportunities as others.But it’s not only about employment. Our approach is based upon enabling young people to build the foundations for a happy, and opportunity-rich life.The Care Leaver Covenant was launched in October 2018. What impact has it had upon young people since its launch, and how do you see it continuing to develop? We’re continuing to work hard to increase our offerings via the Covenant. There are new opportunities being added on all the time.We see the Covenant as being a way of laying strong foundations for those who have grown up in the care system. We embrace the idea of the ‘Universal Parent’ which we use to mean that all of society has a role in parenting young people who are care experienced. We have a variety of initiatives which are far beyond just work experience placements. We have training programmes and access to financial literacy schemes to help support young people.Looking to the imminent future, we’re about to launch a new banking programme which will enable care leavers, and young people in care, to open a bank account without the traditional ID that most high street banks require.In addition to this, we’re tackling the high number of care leavers who get tangled up in the criminal justice system. We are developing a partnership with Tuckers Solicitors and are shaping a public offer to provide Covenant-approved legal defence for care leavers. This programme will impact individuals who have been arrested and detained in police custody. Additionally, we recently ran a roundtable discussion with the Greater Manchester Mayor and over 10 prominent higher education bodies and housing providers where we laid out our ambitions for providing a better quality of housing to care leavers. Too many young people are living in situations which are not secure and are not conducive to a stable personal life so it’s important that we work on this.The Care Leaver Covenant app is designed for young people to find available opportunities. How does the app work?This app has been carefully planned with the needs of our care leaving community in mind. We’re continually filling it with a variety of opportunities for work placements across the UK, as well as details of training provisions and even discounts and other promotions. It’s easy to navigate by geographical region or type of opportunity and we’re always updating to improve functionality. One thing we always say to our care leavers is that we are always here to help. If someone looks at the app and finds that they are overwhelmed or unsure of what they are looking at, all they need to do is to pick up the phone and give us a call. Our contact details are published within the app, and we’re always available to explain what the process is, what the opportunities are and how they can make a formal application.What do young people need to do once they’ve seen an interesting opportunity?This varies as in some cases they may need to contact us directly, or it may be that they need to get in touch with the employer directly. Within each listing, it will be made clear who the first point of contact is. We work incredibly closely with the partner organisations in creating new opportunities. We typically have a dedicated point of contact who will understand exactly what the specifics are of that offer, and what is available. We’re very aware the process can feel daunting and we’re always keen to work with care leavers, taking them step-by-step through each process. If someone calls us, they can be sure that they’ll be speaking to an individual person. This process isn’t automated because we know how vital the human touch is. We can spend time explaining exactly who we are and how our projects are set up to help them build these positive foundations. Because we’re such a close-knit team, we are all available to answer any questions, it may be someone in our youth engagement team, an education specialist or a member of our IT team. We all work closely to support our end goal. We aim to empower those leaving care to look at and pursue the opportunities available to them.Money can be a barrier to many opportunities. Do you have anything in place which can help them financially? Yes, there are initiatives in place which can help provide financial support. For example, there is the flexible support fund which is related to Jobcentre Plus. These funds can support travel expenses or even clothing or equipment for certain jobs, ensuring that the person leaving care can simply focus on making the most of their opportunity.We want our care leavers to feel that they can prosper and that they are not at a disadvantage. It’s been wonderful to see many of our partner organisations willing to pay for expenses and we’re very optimistic that our opportunities are genuinely viable for those leaving care.If there is a project that a care leaver is interested in but they are worried about the financial implications, we’d reiterate that they shouldn’t write it off. They can contact us, and we can work on their behalf to ensure they can access their placement.Why is it so important that universities have joined the Care Leaver Covenant to open educational opportunities and encourage further learning?The work that we’re doing with universities and higher education institutions is important.Firstly, we need to work hard to ensure that those who are leaving the care system have access to a fulfilling and enriching higher education/further education experiences. We know that the statistics on the number of people going to university from within the care system could be improved and it’s important that we do what we can to give them the confidence to apply. But the work doesn’t just stop there. Once a young person has begun university, we need to ensure that they have the necessary support to make that experience positive and fulfilling. It could be through additional mentoring, pastoral support or access to new equipment or financial aid. We’re also actively embracing our work with universities and colleges because they are big employers. We want university jobs to be made available to care leavers. How is the Covenant working with social work teams to share details of this innovative app?We are working with personal advisors, participation workers, youth workers, social workers, and managers to raise awareness of the app and of how it can be used in the most productive and appropriate way. We want to promote independent use amongst care leavers. We are encouraging professionals to download the app onto their phones and devices. This will allow them to utilise it during meetings that they may have directly with care leavers as part of their pathway plan, foster placement, residential work or as part of different forums with young people. We have also gained feedback on the app from our advisory panels that we hold with young people and the staff that support them. This is important because, naturally, not all teams work in the same way and may have different processes about how they work with and inform their care leavers of opportunities and support. Download the app.It's free to download and is available on the App Store for Apple devices and the Play Store for Android. All you need to do is search for “Care Leaver Covenant” and it’s easy to install.
Your social work career path
Social work is often described as a “passion” and a “calling”. Our community regularly talk to us about why they chose to join the profession; with many saying it’s because they had a desire to help those at their most vulnerable.As experienced recruiters, we know that you don’t just have a passion for your job, you’re ambitious to take steps along your career path to challenge yourself. We know that you’re keen to learn new skills because you know that it will help you to become better practitioners. And this is where we thrive; we do what we can to support our social workers at every stage of their career, from the moment they graduate through to the day that they decide to retire.With that in mind, we want to shine a light on how varied a career in social work can be. It excites us that there are so many opportunities to continually push yourself, and we’re proud to be by your side as you take that journey.Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW)For the first few years of your social work career, you will be officially classed as an NQSW. This means that you’ll be provided with additional training and development opportunities. Within your first twelve months, you’ll be expected to participate in the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) - which is a twelve-month programme of support and assessment coordinated by your employer.During the year, you’ll be continually assessed against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). Once you’ve passed the assessments, you’ll be provided with a Fitness to Practice certificate which will confirm that you meet a national set of standards.Social WorkersOnce you’ve completed your AYSE and you have gained a few years’ experience, you can start to see new opportunities opening. You may consider whether you want to move into a more specific role, and this is where you can begin directing your professional opportunities in different directions.For instance, you may find that there are specific teams that you want to work in – examples include Integrated Neighbourhood, Learning Disabilities, Looked-After Children or Referral and Assessment Teams. There is a wealth of different teams available and each one will require a different element of social care support. You will quickly develop a specialism which will keep you motivated and professionally challenged.Experienced Social WorkerAs you become more experienced, you can start to see new duties emerge and more opportunities to develop new skills. Experienced social workers can often work more autonomously, and you may be given more complex caseloads which will really push you.At this stage of your career, you may be leaning towards gaining managerial or leadership experience. You may be interested in pursuing opportunities to chair meetings or lead multi-agency working. You may even be starting to look at opportunities to lead by example and work as a team manager.At this level, you may notice that your duties start to take you away from frontline social work into management. If you’re looking to challenge yourself yet remain working closely with families, then you may benefit fr