Monday, 23 January 2012

A month in the life of a newly qualified social worker

(Leeds City Council is supporting the regional Children's Social Work Matters campaign)

A graduate children’s social worker from Rotherham is hoping to raise the profile of the vital role of children’s social work teams by writing her own blog.

New recruit, 24-year-old Alison (not her real name) will explain what it’s really like to be a children’s social worker - the highs and the lows. It will track her personal journey from court appearances for residence orders to offering vital support to families as well as the challenging and uplifting parts of the job.

The month-long blog, which starts on Monday 23 January, will support the Children’s Social Work Matters campaign - a region-wide drive to encourage more people to consider children’s social work as a career and tackle some of the misconceptions about the role.

Alison graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in September last year before taking up a job as a Children’s Social Worker with Rotherham Council. Having left school at 16 with ten GCSE’s she had a number of call centre and bar jobs. Then, in 2006, events in her personal life left her homeless and having to find accommodation in a hostel. During this difficult time Alison took up voluntary work at a local refuge and found herself working closely with women and children.

Alison said:
“Whilst volunteering at the refuge I realised I really enjoyed working with families and decided children’s social work would be the right career choice for me.

“To boost my qualifications I went on an Access Course, studied health, psychology, sociology and ethics and applied to do a social work degree at Sheffield Hallam University.”

Her job entails working with children who are being taken into care, often in difficult circumstances which can include neglect or abuse. She works with parents and authorities to draw up a care plan which includes fostering, adoption or residential care. Wherever possible she tries to keep children in the family home with extra support.

Alison continues:

“It can be stressful at times but to know that I’m able to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children makes me realise it’s the right role for me.

“I hope my blog will help to tackle some of the misconceptions about the role of children’s social workers and encourage more people to take it up as a career. If you’re passionate about working with children and like a challenge it could be the right career for you.”

To follow Alison’s blog visit between 23 January and 17 February 2012.

Notes to Editors
1. The identity of the Children’s Social Worker has been withheld to ensure client confidentiality.

2. Interviews with Alison are available on the strict understanding that you do not reveal her identity. To arrange this please contact Helen Lister at COI News & PR on t: 0113 346 6084.

3. In the first project of its kind in the country, 15 local authorities across Yorkshire and the Humber, have joined forces to support the region’s children’s social workers and make sure standards of care will continue to safeguard children and young people. Under the banner of “Children’s Social Work Matters”, the campaign aims to attract new social workers and raise industry standards for people already in the job.

It will create new opportunities and tackle misconceptions about the role of a social worker – using real-life stories from members of regional social work teams who dedicate their working lives to child protection.

The region’s local authorities are committed to making Yorkshire and the Humber the most collaborative, supportive and rewarding place in which to enjoy a career as a children’s social worker.

Media enquiries: Contact Helen Lister t: 0113 346 6084 or Sheila Perry t: 0113 346 6086

Issued on behalf of the 15 local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber

Leeds launches its first autism strategy

Paul Adderley from Change with Councillor Lucinda Yeadon

Leeds City Council has launched a brand new strategy to raise awareness and improve the wellbeing of adults living with autism in the city.

The Leeds Adult Autism Strategy recognises the importance of educating people about the condition, and giving them the facts needed to deal sensitively with people’s needs, including during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Partner organisations in the city that work directly with people with autism are supportive of the strategy.

The National Autistic Society estimates that as many as one in a hundred people may be living with autism in the UK. This statistic was a key factor in the council’s decision to produce the new strategy, and to make sure that appropriate care and support is in place to support those that require it.

One of the main aims of the strategy is to raise awareness and ensure that specialist support is available within public-facing services. A partnership board, made up of representatives from council departments, the health service, the voluntary sector and including people on the autistic spectrum and their carers, has been set up to monitor progress and make sure that the needs of people with autism are being met.

There will also be an autism specific commissioning plan produced each year to track how many people are living with autism in Leeds, and make sure that good quality services are in place to meet their needs. This plan will then assess what funds are available and establish what support can be provided.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care attended the launch and said:
“Autism is a very misunderstood condition, and with more cases now being diagnosed than ever before, the council has acted positively by developing this new strategy with its partners.

“The strategy aims to address the fact that adults with autism have consistently fallen through gaps in the system in the past. It will help services, including health and social care, education, employment, the justice system, sport and leisure, and wider society to have a better understanding of the condition.

“I am delighted that this strategy has the support of partner organisations in the city, and that we are working hard together to continuously improve services for our most vulnerable people.”

Sandie Keene, director of adult social services said:
“Organisations now recognise that autism can be disabling, and staff require specific training in order to make sure that the best possible outcomes are secured for people living with the condition.

“Allowing people to feel included and supported to participate fully in society is a priority for the council. This strategy will encourage organisations to work together to enable people on the autistic spectrum to get the support they need so they can live their lives successfully and independently.”

The Leeds Adult Autism Strategy can be found on the council website (


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Leeds Art Gallery premiere for major Gary Hume exhibition

Caption: Three of the works by Gary Hume which will be on display at Leeds Art Gallery
(mandatory credits from top 'Four Feet in the Garden', 1995 courtesy Gary Hume and Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, second image 'American Tan VI',2006-07 courtesy Gary Hume, and lower image 'Baby Bird I', 2008 courtesy Gary Hume and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York)

A major exhibition by one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists Gary Hume is being premiered at Leeds Art Gallery next week.

The exhibition entitled ‘Gary Hume: Flashback’, organised by the Arts Council Collection, will run from Thursday 2 February until Sunday 15 April at The Headrow gallery managed by Leeds City Council featuring over 20 paintings and sculptures produced by the Turner Prize-nominated artist.

The exhibition is made up of works bought by the Arts Council Collection during the early years of Hume’s career, supported by new pieces loaned directly from the Kent-born artist as well as others from public collections.

******************** Media opportunity ********************
All media are invited to a press preview of the 'Gary Hume:Flashback' exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery at 10:45am on Friday 27 January. Artist Gary Hume will be at the preview and will be available for interview. Leeds Art Gallery is located on The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA.
******************** Media opportunity ********************

Having graduated from Goldsmith’s College in London in 1988, Hume’s bold, abstract style with striking use of colour made an immediate impression as he was part of the now-famous ‘Freeze’ exhibition in the same year which launched a new ‘golden’ generation of British artists including Damien Hirst, who himself was the subject of a major exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery last summer.

Hume’s success continued throughout the 1990s, being nominated for the Turner Prize in 1996 and representing Britain at the renowned Sao Paulo and Venice Biennales in 1996 and 1999 respectively. In 2001 he was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in London and in recent years his work has featured on display in Germany, Austria, the Modern Art Oxford and an exhibition devoted to his latest pieces ‘White Cube’ which is currently on show at Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard in London.

The ‘Flashback’ exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery will showcase some of Hume’s outstanding early works in the Arts Council Collection including ‘Moonbeam Rising (1994)’ and ‘Four Feet in the Garden (1995)’, as well as ‘Water Painting (1999)’ which is being loaned from Tate Britain. The exhibition is also brought up to date with Hume’s ‘American Tan XXVIII 1 (2008)’ from the Royal Academy of Arts.

The exhibition is being premiered at Leeds Art Gallery before going on tour to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“We are thrilled to be able to showcase Gary Hume’s fantastic works at Leeds Art Gallery and we cannot wait for the exhibition to start.

“Following on from the amazing exhibitions devoted to Damien Hirst and Henry Moore at the gallery last year which proved hugely popular, this is the perfect way to start 2012 and we think people will be fascinated when they see these wonderfully eye-catching paintings and scuptures.”

Head of the Arts Council Collection Caroline Douglas said:

“We are delighted to be working with Gary Hume on our next Flashback exhibition. Since first receiving critical acclaim with his ‘door’ paintings, he has created an extraordinary body of work. It is testament to both the artist’s generosity and the strength of the works acquired by Arts Council Collection that we are able to bring this substantial overview of his career to museums and galleries in the UK.”

‘Gary Hume: Flashback’ will be on display at Leeds Art Gallery from Thursday 2 February until Sunday 15 April. Admission is free.

For more information on Leeds Art Gallery, visit or call 0113 247 8256.

Notes to editors:

The Arts Council Collection is one of Britain’s foremost national collections of post-war British Art. As a collection 'without walls', it has no permanent gallery; it can be seen on long-term loan to museums, galleries, schools, hospitals, colleges and charitable associations and in touring exhibitions and displays at home and abroad. It is also, importantly, the most widely circulated and easily accessible collection of its kind, with nearly 8000 works available for loan. It is run by Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England.

Established in 1946 to promote and enrich knowledge of contemporary art, the collection continues to acquire works by artists, many at an early stage of their career, living and working in Britain and to foster the widest possible access to modern and contemporary across the UK. It includes work by Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Bridget Riley and Wolfgang Tillmans. Recent exhibitions of works from the Collection, created in collaboration with Hayward Touring, include Unpopular Culture: Grayson Perry curates from the Arts Council Collection, and Now Showing I & II. In 2009 the Arts Council Collection launched the Flashback series which showcases world-renowned British artists whose works were acquired early on by the Collection, including Bridget Riley (2010) and Anish Kapoor (2011). In December 2006 access to the collection was further enhanced when was launched.

For further information about the Arts Council Collection please contact Sarah Ragsdale on 020 7921 0887 or email or Helena Zedig on 020 7921 0847 or email


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Gay and lesbian people invited to discover more about fostering and adopting

Leeds City Council has organised a special open day to help gay and lesbian people learn more about fostering and adoption.

The open day has been organised to coincide with the first ever national LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, which runs from Monday 20 February to Sunday 26 February 2012, and will be held on Tuesday 21 February 2012 at 7pm at the South Leeds City Learning Centre, Gipsy Lane, Beeston.

The open day will allow people who are considering becoming a foster carer or adopter to meet experts from Leeds City Council’s fostering and adoption teams. They will be able to find out more about the assessment process, what types of children the council is currently looking for homes for, and what requirements are needed. There will also be the opportunity to meet a gay foster carer and a gay adopter who will talk about what being a foster carer or adopter is really like.

At a time when adoption figures are at a ten year low, a new study shows lesbian and gay people often have the right mix of skills and experience to raise children who have been in care, and give them a great new start in life.

In a survey commissioned by New Family Social - the LGBT network coordinating the week -
72% of social workers surveyed saw the “amount of energy and enthusiasm” LGBT adopters bring to the process as a significant strength. 76% saw “openness to difference, and supporting a child with a sense of difference” as equally important.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
"Over the years, our lesbian and gay foster carers and adopters have made a tremendous contribution towards helping the city provide supportive homes for children and young people. We welcome more applications from all potential foster carers and adopters regardless of their sexuality, religion or marital status. The main thing is that you are able to give children and young people the care and support they need to be happy and fulfilled.”

Leeds City Council sees lesbian and gay people as having a key role to play in meeting the urgent need for more new homes for children in care.

There is no such thing as a typical foster carer or adopter – they can be single, married, divorced, employed, unemployed, with or without children of their own. People from diverse backgrounds and all ethnic origins are needed to help children benefit from living with families who share their own culture, language and religion.

The council’s fostering service provides a comprehensive range of training and support for it’s foster carers , including weekly fees and allowances.

Andy Leary-May, Director of New Family Social, organisers of the national event, said:
“More and more LGBT people are choosing adoption and fostering as a way to form a family, and we want prospective parents to see just how rewarding it can be, and how much advice and support is on offer from our huge community of families around the UK”.

“The fact that so many agencies want to recruit from the LGBT community show just how far things have come in the past 5 or 6 years. Social workers are becoming more aware of our strengths, and we are being treated more fairly, and are being matched with children more quickly”.

Stuart (28) and Lee (25) are a same sex couple, who have just been approved as foster carers for Leeds City Council, explain how they found the assessment process:
“We wanted to help a variety of children and give them a sense of home even if it was for a brief period of time. We are now settled personally and are ready to give something back, we have been lucky in life and want to share this with foster children. Fostering feels like the next stage of our lives together, we have a lot to offer so why not.

“Our assessing fostering officer from the council has been very good and always very honest with us. We know that some children and young people or their families might not want to, or want their children to live with us because we are a same sex couple but we can’t change that and it hasn’t put us off. The council has assured us they want more same sex couples to come forward and foster and have children ready to place with us”.

To find out more about fostering for Leeds City Council visit: or ring us on 0113 24 77 44 3

To find out more about adopting with Leeds City Council visit:

To find out more about New Family Social visit:

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713