Last year, Achieving for Children (AfC) was named as National Social Work Employer of the Year, and the organisation is now offering more opportunities than ever before to make your mark and develop your skills and experience.
As part of Third Sector Jobs’ Wonderful Workplaces initiative, we spoke to Ian Dodds, chief executive of AfC, about what it’s like to work there and why it’s a great time to join.
Tell me about Achieving for Children and the work you do
Achieving for Children (AfC) is a not-for-profit social enterprise, jointly owned by three councils (Richmond, Kingston and Windsor & Maidenhead) and commissioned to deliver children’s services across all three boroughs. We were set up by Kingston and Richmond in 2014 and last year Windsor
& Maidenhead became the third owning council.
We support over 30,000 children each year across our three boroughs, and are increasingly delivering consultancy services across the country. We’re also one of the government’s Partners in Practice, meaning we’ve been selected to lead innovation and improvement nationally across the
children’s services sector.
What does your role involve and what are the highlights of your job?
I’m the chief executive of AfC, so it’s my role to lead the development of the organisation through the next exciting phase of our journey. We’ve had a lot of success since we were created in 2014, and the challenge is to make sure we build on that initial success and deliver even better support for the families we serve.
The main highlight of my role is meeting families and hearing about the positive impact our work has had on their lives. I also love hearing creative ideas from our staff on how we can improve our services for children and families.
Working for AfC means you get the pay and benefits of working in the public sector but the freedom of working for a social enterprise.
What do you think makes AfC a great place to work?
Last year we were named as National Social Work Employer of the Year, which reflects the efforts we’ve put in to make AfC a fantastic place to work. Working for AfC means you get the pay and benefits of working in the public sector but the freedom of working for a social enterprise.
We have an excellent learning and development offer, with progression routes for staff at all levels. We also trust our staff, as we believe the best ideas often come from the frontline – if you have ideas on how we can deliver the best possible support for our families, we want to hear from you!
What exciting projects are you working on?
We’re about to launch our latest ‘Innovation Hub’ challenge to our staff. The most innovative ideas suggested by teams are shortlisted and put forward for a staff vote. The winning idea then receives the seed funding to make it happen. It’s a great way to harness the creativity of our staff, while at the
same time putting our money where our mouth is!
We have a supportive culture where we celebrate success and respect the role everyone has to play in providing the best possible services to families.
How would you describe the team culture?
We have a supportive culture where we celebrate success and respect the role everyone has to play in providing the best possible services to families. We understand that people make mistakes from time to time, and that the most important thing is to learn from them.
We also encourage bright ideas – we have over 1,000 staff who are brimming with creativity. We recognise that the best ideas often come from the frontline, and we try to give everyone the opportunity and platform to put their ideas forward.
How can people progress their careers at AfC?
One of the best features of working for AfC is the opportunity to develop your career with us. We have leadership development programmes for all levels of the organisation, and one of the very best training offers in the sector. We are also leading a sub-regional social work development programme on behalf of six other local authorities.
Why is now a great time to join?
It’s a great time to be joining AfC because there are more opportunities than ever before to make your mark, and to develop your skills and experience:
- With over 1,000 staff based across three locations, we have a wider range of opportunities than ever before, no matter where you live or what area of the organisation you want to work in.
- We have an expanding consultancy offer, and our staff have the opportunity to be trained in consultancy skills and join our teams in offering support around the country.
We’re leading the way in driving improvement and innovation in children’s services – come and be part of the journey!
Are you recruiting at the moment?
We are always on the lookout for talented frontline workers, particularly social workers, who are passionate about making a positive difference in children’s lives.
What kind of people make a good fit for the organisation?
To thrive at AfC, you need to be bright, creative and passionate about making a positive difference to children’s lives. We’re looking for that ‘wow’ factor – for someone with bundles of enthusiasm who is willing to go the extra mile to achieve lasting change in children’s lives.
Sum up what it’s like to work at Achieving for Children
At AfC we value and trust our people because we know it’s our people who truly make the difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in society. We try and provide an environment and culture that brings the best out of talented staff. The work we do is challenging, but we support
each other and celebrate and recognise achievements.