Rob shares his student journey..
I undertook a placement with Cloverleaf back in 1999/2000 as part of my Social Work degree. I thoroughly enjoyed the placement and learned so much. The biggest piece of learning was that when Roger (the managing director) spoke, it was always worth listening to, and also that whatever my career would hold for me I learnt that independent advocacy was a key driver in devolving power.
I graduated from University in 2000/1. From there I began work as a Hospital Social Worker. This was a crash course in how to do (and not to do) social work! Whilst I was able to hone some skills such as working in crisis situations I did feel that the need for strong social work, based in human rights, was extremely needed for people in hospital. I became a reluctant AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) in 2005, and latterly became a very eager Best Interest Assessor this February! I have experienced a number of promotions through to Senior Practitioner and Team Manager in a locality Social Work Team. In 2010 I became Chief Operations Manager and then Service Manager for Adult Social Work in Calderdale. This role, which became Service Manager for Adult Social Work, enabled me to provide senior management support for a wide number of qualified social work staff. Finally, in 2012, I became Calderdale's first Principal Social Worker. I work to advise the Director on social work and I also offer senior management support for our Learning Disability Social Work Team, our Mental Capacity Act Service and I have led on our work to create a cooperative model of social work in Calderdale, which will provide social work support together with people who use services, advocates and experts by experience. We hope to open a shop in Halifax very shortly!
I really believe that my time with Cloverleaf has stood me in good stead. As a social worker I don’t always get it right. I make mistakes like anyone else. However advocacy taught me that if I do my job correctly I am actually rarely the decision-maker. The person makes the decision. My job as a social worker is similar to that of an advocate in that I try to uphold people's voices and ensure human rights for all. As Lord Justice Munby said, the Local Authority is the Servant not the Master... In fact I am sure Roger said something similar to that all those years ago.