Taking a huge pay cut and moving from social work to the charity sector 14 years ago was the best career decision I've made. I've zero regrets.
I was a social work manager for Norfolk County Council and had become disenchanted and frustrated. I used to commission Break's services, so I knew the organisation's ethos and values, and approached it for work. At first I was employed as its operations manager; then I became director of care and for the past five years I have been leading the charity.
There is more freedom in the not-for-profit sector compared with the bureaucracy in the public sector. I like the fact that good ideas can, with the support of the board, come to fruition quickly. I felt that Break's remit – including working with adults with disabilities and mental health problems – was too diverse, so I initiated the move towards concentrating on what we are best at: working with children and families.
I've tried to visit all our support services and shops at least once a year to show our 470 employees that I value their contribution. If you don't invest in the staff, they won't invest in the organisation.
We've had to continue providing high-level services at frozen contract prices set by local authorities that want more for less money, which is frustrating. It can feel like we're subsidising services that should be publicly funded, but the government cut-backs can also provide great opportunities for charities to do more and expand their offerings.
Break provides residential and community-based services for vulnerable children, young people and families in East Anglia