Why Southampton?

Our vision and how we work

Southampton is a vibrant, diverse, city with a beautiful coastal and forest backdrop and huge ambition for children. It has significant aspiration and challenges, and a real soul and identity.

We know the social work profession is challenging. It requires stamina, resilience, and determination. But it is a career that enriches and transforms the lives of children and families. It is a profession we should be proud to be a part of, as well as humble that all that we do can have a lasting impact on our most vulnerable children.

Ofsted told us that our practitioners report having manageable workloads, supportive relationships with almost entirely permanent managers. We offer the opportunity to continually grow in experience, knowledge and confidence.

We are building a strong social work family where practitioners and managers feel safe and are supported to develop enduring relationships with children, families and each other. 

Our career pathway celebrates practitioners and managers with every kind of ambition, including training to be a social worker, undertaking your ASYE, being a highly valued senior social worker or, qualifying as a Practice Educator or Systemic Practitioner, and with the right support and opportunities, becoming great leaders and managers. There is more than one pathway available, reflecting our understanding that practitioners wish to develop their skills and careers in different ways. We are not a one size fits all organisation.

Why choose us

Southampton is an invigorating and rewarding place to be a social worker. It is also a great city to live, bring up a family with rich cultural diversity, great open spaces and the sea in open view.

Even when the work isn’t easy, it’s always rewarding. Here’s why:

Training and development

Achieving our high ambitions for children and young people starts with our people. We have successfully embedded a learning culture by investing in our people, and providing development opportunities to enable our skilled workforce to be the best they can be.

We have a brilliant two year Making the Difference Graduate Programme for NQSWs to support the ASYE and the following year in practice. During our inspection in June, Ofsted commented positively upon our ASYE offer.

We have a vibrant programme of training and continual professional development for our community of Practice Educators, including sessions led by our Principal Social Worker and Siobhan McClean, a lead in Practice Education in the UK.

If you are ready to be a senior social worker, we have some great opportunities for your career development. We have a very active Senior Social Worker Practice Development Group who assist the Principal Social Worker in leading our monthly on-line learning forum, which is staff-led with all our practitioners learning from each other. This is a hugely successful and lively group with between 50 and 80 practitioners attending each month. Our Senior Social Workers take a lead role in modelling excellent relational practice aligned to our Practice Framework and support others in their own team with developing their knowledge base and skills. If as a senior Social Worker, you decide that management is the direction for you, we have an excellent leadership and management offer, including access to the Pathways Programme and our own excellent corporate offer.

We have a hugely committed workforce development team, led by our passionate Principal Social Worker, providing wrap-around care and inspiration to our practitioners and managers at all stages of their professional journey. We are putting all our energy into being better for our children, so as part of the outstanding offer from our Workforce Academy, we have developed a partnership with the Institute of Family Therapy and invested in a comprehensive Systemic and Restorative Practice training pathway for practitioners, managers and leaders across the whole service. Following your initial training in systemic practice, you will have the opportunity to apply to qualify as a Systemic Practitioner, fully accredited by the Association of Family Therapy. You may choose to pursue full qualification as a Family and Systemic Psychotherapist as part of your role with us in Southampton. We are the only local authority offering this fantastic opportunity in our region.

You will also have the opportunity to engage in quarterly practice weeks led by our Principal Social Worker, the Practice Development Team and our practitioners.  We find practitioners get more out of these weeks when they are involved in the planning and have a say in what these learning opportunities should look like. You’ll join our monthly Making the Difference Practice Development Forum noted above, where latest learning is shared, and staff achievements celebrated. This forum is now staff led, with practitioners presenting on their areas of interest and specialism and rich debate and conversation is invited and valued.

We have access to research communities including Research in Practice and we are about to launch our own online resource library.

Work-life balance

Staff wellbeing is important to us. That’s why we promote a healthy work-life-balance by prioritising manageable caseloads, being creative in people’s working patterns, maternity, paternity and special leave, adoption leave and time off for dependants. We offer nine day working fortnights, support to work from home and we have a car leasing scheme. We reimburse your professional registration fees including your Social Work England fees and we support and guide you through your annual applications to re-register, providing you with the time and space away from practice to complete this.

We have a dedicated Wellbeing Programme, backed up by our volunteer team of Wellbeing Champions who organise a range of health and wellbeing opportunities for staff – from group yoga to choirs, there’s something for everyone. There is a wellbeing lead within the Practice Development Team who ensures that you gain immediate emotional support should you need it by way of our Critical Incident De-brief scheme, and of course there is our counselling offer available should you ever find that you need it.

Your sense of belonging to your team and our service is important to us. We have an excellent staff and management induction programme where you are welcomed into the service, have the opportunity to meet and spend time with our senior leaders and to learn all about how we do what we do in Southampton.

We are building a strong ‘family’ culture where social workers and managers feel safe and supported to develop enduring relationships with children and families and to share their views about the environment in which they work.

You feeling that your views are valued in Southampton is important to us. Our Principal Social Worker leads our staff reference group, Better Together. The group includes staff and managers from all over the service and the group members are invited to share their views across a whole range of matters including how it feels to be working in this sometimes, tough line of work, what we can do to better to support, what is working well that we can do more of, and how we can best spend time together. This group is heard.

Southampton also offers a full range of social and engagement opportunities. We play football with our young people, and we are currently planning rounders and volleyball tournaments. We have an annual great big bake-off competition and cinema nights, quizzes and even karaoke is in the planning for this year!

We celebrate each other and our successes and we often come together to do just that. Whether it is World Social Work Day or an ASYE or Apprenticeship graduation event, welcoming our students, or our staff conferences, we come together to share our achievements – and our baking skills, as there is usually a home baked cake from one of our leaders to hand.

We also celebrate individual good relational practice. When our practitioners show creativity, tenacity and passion and help our children and families create good outcomes, we shout about this, share news of the success and learn from it by way of our quarterly awards. Our staff feeling held in practice and receiving recognition and feeling valued for all they do is important to us.

We know practicing in our profession is challenging and carries huge responsibility. It requires stamina, resilience and determination. But it is a career that enriches our lives and and transforms the lives of children and families. We want you to come and help us be the best we can be. We promise to grow and develop with you and help achieve your ambitions.

Living and working in Southampton

Southampton is a city that is increasingly an exciting place to be -it was recently cited as the third highest ranking city in the UK for growth. Southampton boasts a city centre that is easy to travel around by foot, bike and public transport and offers a range of retail outlets, restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres, as well as a wide variety of parks and open spaces to enjoy within the city. All of this and the New Forest National Park on its doorstep!

What’s more, many local activities and attractions such as Sea City Museum, Tudor House and Garden and galleries are available to council staff at a discounted rate. This is in addition to benefits such as cut-price rail travel, gym memberships, and discounted theatre tickets – there’s no reason not to get out, get going, and explore all the great things the city has to offer.

Become part of the Southampton family

If you decide to work at Southampton City Council, you’ll be joining a friendly team who help one another to achieve their full potential and feel supported. We often refer to our tight knit team as the Southampton family as we are able to work so closely together and support each other.

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