In our regular feature looking at the many different roles and services within the sector we talk to Marianne Patterson, founder and Managing Director of Ayrshire Children’s Services CIC, a specialist support service, which operates as a Community Interest Company.
Ayrshire Children’s Services CIC (ACS) is an innovative, forward-thinking, non-profit, specialist support service, which operates as a Community Interest Company. We support children between ages 6-18 years who have additional support needs referred by social work services, schools or parents. Following an initial home visit needs assessment, carried out by the Service Manager, the child is matched with a specialist staff/volunteer support worker who will have successfully completed a comprehensive training course. Matches are based on the Experience of worker the needs and wishes of the child.
How did you hear about your role?
In May 2011 I rescinded from my post with a Scottish Charity to pursue a change in career, I wanted to stick to the same sector but wished to do things a differently. Therefore, I approach Business Gateway with the first draft of my Business plan, which outlined Ayrshire Children’s Services CIC. From there I began to build and develop a unique service for the children of Ayrshire.
What attracted you to the job?
I have 23 years of experience in my field, managing and developing projects and services throughout Ayrshire for established organisations or local authorities. In this changing world and on the approach of Personalisation and Self Direct Support I came to realise that our children and families required a different approach to the services they were already receiving. This challenge attracted me to my current role as founder and managing director of ACS.
What attracted you to the sector?
Self-direct support: A National Strategy for Scotland will bring many positives for children and their families and along with the Future Delivery of Public Services Report Dr Campbell Christie CBE June 2011. It allowed me to be innovative in my approach to building a service fit for purpose which could be individual need. It’s a new and exciting era for services and for the families who will be able to make personal choices to the services and support they receive.
How important are the services you provide?
ACS takes a holistic approach to each individual child and young person, tailoring support to their requirements and choice. Maintaining control to the person who receives the service. We promote no waiting lists and little red tape, to ensure service users receive the support the need when they need it. ACS takes it role very seriously, therefore our work is important because the individuals we support are important.
Describe your current role
I am Managing Director and founder of ACS, I manage staff, budgets and the overall management of the day to day running of ACS. I co-ordinate partnerships, maintain outcome recording reports and development reports to our stakeholders. I continually seek strategic partnerships and build links with local authorities to enable ACS to become a recognised valued service in Ayrshire. As a Community Interest Company ACS is run like a business and not a charity and one of my main aims is to develop ACS to become sustainable and less reliant on funding. I therefore manage another service Essentials Plus, which is a training and recruitment company for the childcare sector, which has 3 main strands.
Training and development
Our comprehensive childcare training courses, incorporates back to work skills and practical work experience placements to ensure you are the best candidate for your dream job. Therefore, if you are currently unemployment, recently qualified and looking for experience or wish to change career path, Essentials Plus can help support your path to sustainable employment.
Recruitment support for the child care sector
Essentials Plus supports your recruitment needs, by insuring those who apply for vacant posts, – fully meet the requirements of your organisation. Individuals are highly trained and motivated ready for interview, in turn giving organisations the opportunity to cut their recruitment budget as they will always find the right person first time round.
Home care and family support
If you are in receipt of Self Direct Support you can use our matching service to ensure you get the right worker for your family. Our staff who are highly trained and motivated which will give you the reassurance you have the right person to take on the precious task of supporting your child.
E+ is currently working toward SQA registration, which will allow us to deliver SQA qualifications and continue to deliver training academy contracts to other sectors and in turn give financial support to ACS. I have a training background and at this time deliver sessions of training myself, however ACS Service Support Worker has a comprehensive PDP which includes her development as training co-ordinator.
I continually strive to develop the service in line with the needs of the children and young people we support. My small team of staff are invaluable and work hard to promote both services with an endless amount of enthusiasm and passion for the work they do.
What’s the most satisfying aspect?
All of it I think!, it’s no easy task, however my team are amazing and seeing them develop and grow makes it all worthwhile. The families we work with are our biggest fans and advocates; they tell us when things go well and work with us when things need to change to ensure our service fits their requirements.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
All of it I think! Being so new and different, we need to work extra hard to gain the confidence of individuals and professionals, as we are unique and new to this area. Our first Care Commission Inspection was interesting, as we don’t fit their normal inspection process, however we still received four 4 and two 3 – which was amazing for our first year and we have already started to make changes and enhanced the areas of our practice in line with the report.
You’ve just became an Ambassador for Careers in Social Services, what prompted you to apply?
I think I have a lot to offer and would like to help others, I love meeting new people specially those who strive for change to make a true difference. It is not an easy job supporting people in need, especially when life has failed them repeatedly and they have all but given up hope. Many new social services workers hit a wall in their career, especially those who are in front line services. I myself went through this stage early on in my career, and began to wonder why we even try to make change as it doesn’t work, its three steps forward and four back sometimes. I was lucky enough to have a manager who was a great mentor; they supported me to see that even soft outcomes and small changes could make a world of a difference and that eventually the big changes follow.
What are you looking forward to in both your job and being an Ambassador?
In my job I am looking forward to the success of ACS and E+, the development of all the staff and future volunteers. The changes and support we give children to allow them to become less isolated from their peers and more independent in their communities. As an ambassador, I just hope that I can help and make a difference. I would like to impart some of my enthusiasm and knowledge I just hope I can live up to the challenge.