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What keeps me awake at night…

Paul Bott , Chief Executive , SJOG Hospitaller

Paul Bott, Chief Executive at SJOG, a national charity providing services to support those in greatest need in the UK, on his thoughts on the current state of social care and hopes for the future.

What keeps me awake at night? I’m tempted to say uncomfortable sofas, but if we’re talking about social care then the single thing that plays on my mind in the wee small hours is people.

I’m Chief Executive of SJOG, a charity where people support people. We’re not a single issue charity but support a wide range of people with housing and support. This includes people who have experience of homelessness, older people, disabled people, and people who have been trafficked or subject to modern day slavery. These though are not the people though that keep me awake at night.

In a charity where people support people, we need to be able to find good people to do the supporting, and to support them so that they can focus on delivering the best outcomes for the people that we are here to serve.

I’d like to think that we are good at supporting our colleagues, not just to get the job done, but also so that they can flourish. We provide the support and the tools they need but then have learning pathways for every role. This means everyone becomes more skilled and more knowledgeable whilst they are with us, and can make better informed decisions, which in turn leads to better outcomes for the people that we are here to serve. It’s a win all round.

We’re investing in level 2 and level 3 qualifications for colleagues who are new to the sector, right through to post-graduate study and doctorates for those who are further on in their career, and everything in between.

We invest because it feels like the right thing to do; because it helps with retaining good people; and because it helps to ‘grow our own’ people with the skills, knowledge and values that we treasure. This all feeds into the way we do things around here (which is my favourite definition of ‘culture’).

We also benefit from the investment that others have made, and recognise that others will benefit from the investment we make. It’s all part of the common good and when our colleagues do move on to other roles in social care they are better placed to be of real benefit.

We take care of the people in SJOG, but we’re a growing charity, having created over 200 new roles, and I don’t know if there are enough professionals in the social care sector to meet the growing demand for good people to support people.

The work that we do is at times a long way from glamorous. At times it’s pressured, and it requires our colleagues to engage with people that most others would avoid. In return, as a sector, for entry level roles we pay just a touch above minimum wage, because our funders are financially pressured.

There used to be a poster that I’d see on the underground on my way home. It was for a recruitment agency and said “If you think recruiting a professional is expensive, try recruiting an amateur.” It made me smile every time, and it stays with me almost 20 years later.

We do good work. We have good people doing good jobs, but we need more special people to join the sector, and at a rate that meets the growing need for social care in a country with an ageing workforce and an increasingly restrictive immigration position.

In this environment, finding great people to support the people that we are here to serve, and finding ways to support them to flourish is what keeps me awake even on the most comfortable of sofas.

@PaulbottSjog @SJOG_uk


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