DE Montfort University Leicester and Leicester City Council are joining forces in a new partnership aimed at sharing expertise and supporting career progression in children’s social care services.
A new Social Care and Learning Development Hub has been launched, which will see the university and the council’s children’s services working closely to share knowledge, training and professional experience of children’s social work, family support and community work.
Social work students will be able to gain valuable work experience of real-life social care, and in turn, social work staff will be able to attend evening lectures and training events at DMU to help extend their professional career development, as well as providing vital input into the teaching, recruitment and assessment of students.
The creation of the hub will also lead to research opportunities between DMU and Leicester City Council, along with post-graduate programmes and opportunities for DMU staff to shadow social work staff.
An annual conference will also be held between the two organisations to bring in a wider discussion of social work and children’s services.
The partnership was launched at an event being held at DMU in the Hugh Aston building.
During the evening, guests heard the project’s benefits discussed in talks from Professor Andy Collop, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for DMU, and Leicester Assistant City Mayor for children, young people and schools, Councillor Sarah Russell.
There were also talks from Lisa Hackett, DMU’s Principal Lecturer in Community Criminal Justice on the importance of the partnership and student Roxanne Lawrence, a final year of Social Work BSc student currently on a work placement with the council’s children’s team, about the importance of continuing professional development once in a social care role.
Other speakers included Caroline Tote, new director of social care and early help at Leicester City Council, along with city council social worker Rachel Bennett.
Lisa Hackett, Acting Head of Division for Social Work and Youth and Community Development at DMU, said: “This is a really important partnership because it puts the academic excellence that we have here at DMU into real, beneficial use in the local community.
“It gives social work staff the opportunity to develop their skills professionally, it gives our staff and students vital experience of social work and will enable research opportunities between the two organisations which could really make a difference here in Leicester and further afield.”
Cllr Russell said: “We want to be able to recruit and retain the best children’s social workers for Leicester, and support them through their careers from trainees to experienced social workers.
“By developing this partnership, De Montfort University and the city council can really help each other by sharing experience, expertise and training development opportunities, and all at no additional cost to either the university or the council.
“We can help each other to ensure DMU’s social work students get a real insight into the profession, and that our social work staff get access to the latest research and routes to career progression within the social care profession.”