Ben, Head of service

“The Headline programme has given me an opportunity to really think about the type of leader I want to be.”

I’ve always had lots of ideas about how we can change things within my local authority to support improvements in practice, but I haven’t always been able to make these become reality. The Headline programme has allowed me to consider the underlying reasons for this, identify how I could change my leadership approach and what I can do to draw on the knowledge and skills of those I work with more effectively.  

I’ve started to build confidence in stepping back from making certain decisions, focusing instead on developing a culture across my teams that makes individuals feel empowered. I now feel I’m better equipped to give my managers a level of support that lets them know they aren’t alone, but that challenges them to take responsibility for developing solutions and being accountable for the decisions they make.  

What’s great about the Headline programme is that it gives you access to experts across different fields that are connected to social work, such as speech and language therapists, and supports you to understand how tools from those fields can be used to develop excellent social work. This combination of leadership training with specialist tools has not only produced great results within the teams I manage, but we’ve also had positive feedback from the children and families that we work with. Specifically, I’ve been working with my teams to embed the narrative approach to support children in remembering and documenting their experiences so we’re able to build a better understanding of what has happened in a child’s life, in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they are being questioned. This has ultimately enabled social workers within the teams I lead in building relationships with children and families that supports them in making the changes they want to make.  

“I’ve been able to learn about successful social worker-led initiatives that are being run across the country.”

Many of the challenges faced by social workers at Gateshead County Council, and social workers around the country, are long-standing and beyond the powers of individual social workers or even local authorities to solve alone. When you have to deal with these challenges on a daily basis it can make you feel quite hopeless. But the Headline programme has given me a different perspective on these challenges as I’ve been able to learn about successful social worker-led initiatives that are being run across the country. Through having the opportunity to listen to other social work leaders I’ve been able to think about what we could do differently at Gateshead to meet the needs of the children, families and communities, and to improve their lives. I’ve found this aspect of the programme really inspiring and it’s given me an insight into tangible changes we could make to achieve our ultimate goal: keeping children and families safe and together.

Read more about our Headline programme.