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James Garratt

Job title: Team Manager

Area of work: Countywide Autism and ADHD Team

My name’s James, I’m James Garratt.

I’m the Team Manager for the Devon County Council Specialist Placement team. We’re a team of Social Workers and Social Care Assessors and we manager, all of, Devon County Council’s out of county placements in relation to learning disability and autism.

We also support people who are moving out of hospital, people who are detained under the Mental Health Act and we work to move them into the community with health colleagues.

When did you start at Devon County Council (DCC)?

I started work with DCC, all the way back in July 2013.

What made you choose to work for DCC?

I chose to work for Devon because I had family here. Myself and my partner had been coming down to Devon and Cornwall.

Can you give an overview of your role?

The Specialist Placement team has been operational, itself, since 2013 and it was in response to some quite serious incidents like Winterbourne View and other safeguarding situations; where local authorities had people placed outside of their immediate area. Up and down the country, if you like.

So, Devon County Council set up the Specialist Placement team initially to review people and then the roles expanded now; where we look to place people, we review placements, and as I mentioned earlier, we bring people back out of hospital.

So, my role as a manager is to manage a team of four Social Workers, two Social Care Assessors and we have a small but very complex case load of people. Which we look to review, be involved in and, where we can, bring them back to Devon.

On a day-to-day basis I have operational managerial duties, performance stats, targets, but because of the nature of the work and the team it’s quite hands on. I have to ensure that, not only the team working to the best of their ability, but we are also fundamentally keeping people safe outside of Devon County Council, and that’s very, very important.

How did you come to be in this role?

When I first came to Devon, I worked in a community team, but I realised, whilst looking around, that there was a lot of opportunity and I wanted experience. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to rise up the career ladder, but I did want experience because the joy of social work is the difference.

You can be in different teams with different client groups and you’re constantly learning. So, what I did gradually, in Devon, was move to different job roles. I looked at things that people always said to me ‘don’t go and do that job’, and I would. I would find it was really valuable and really interesting. So, I started to build up a lot of experience doing lots of different things as a Social Worker.

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

I guess the favourite part of my job is that ‘putting something back’. Is a good sense of togetherness, certainly in adults’ social care. There’s a good sense of peer group support, you know other managers, you know other teams. I like that aspect.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Devon?

In terms of living in Devon, well, Devon speaks for itself. Look what you’ve got on the doorstep. If your work is stressful, you’ve only got to look around you for the coast, the Moors or to go somewhere. You never get bored of that. That was one of the reasons we moved here. For the first couple of weeks, it did feel a bit like we were on holiday. We thought ‘oh one day this feeling will go, and we will take it for granted’. I don’t think we ever have.