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23 June 2022

Samantha: I knew I could make a difference

Samantha uses her personal experiences to connect with her team and inspire others to make a positive impact.

Having the opportunity, through the Firstline programme*, to learn different techniques for connecting with my team as a leader has been transformational.”

As someone who is care experienced, I wasn’t sure about whether I should be bringing my personal experience to my professional role. But through the Firstline programme I’ve learnt the about importance of authenticity and how I can use tools, like public narrative, to tell stories that connect with and inspire people. It’s had a really positive impact on my team and developed their curiosity about what it’s like to be care-experienced and what’s possible to achieve as a care-experienced person. 

The Firstline programme’s focus on handling difficult conversations made me reflect on what I needed to change in my approach to these, particularly when discussing performance or making improvements to the service we provide. My leadership style has always incorporated my values of being open, approachable and compassionate, but I found it harder to challenge and hold others to account. Having space to reflect, both with my coach and with my peers in the practice development sessions, gave me the opportunity to work through some of the difficulties I faced when adopting a new style of leadership and get valuable feedback – because of this I feel more confident in supporting my team to make improvements and to focus on achieving the best outcomes for children and families. I’ve incorporated this into the caring side of my leadership style, and my team now feel more supported in their development because of the constructive conversations we’re having. 

The programme reiterated to me that social work is about working with families, not doing to them.”

As a service manager within a quality assurance team, I knew I could make a difference, and help families feel more involved in the service they were receiving, by encouraging frontline social workers to get feedback from the children and families they were working with. I’m really proud that we’ve gone from getting no feedback at all, to a 75% response rate on our feedback requests in audits. This has a direct impact on our work as it gives us a picture of what we’re doing well and what needs to change within the service – ultimately it’s something that will improve outcomes for children and families. 

*The Firstline and Headline programmes ended in 2022 and have since been replaced by the Pathways programme.