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Whilst we do see ourselves as one big team – within that we have smaller sub teams who work very closely together and the support we have for each other is a huge part of who we are and helps us do what we do. We do try to foster a good team spirit here and this is reflected in people choosing to undertake activities together outside of work too.

We are embracing a systemic approach to working with families across the service, which is flexible and evidence-based. This enables us to think about relationships within families and how these impact on the child and also allows us to reflect on the relationships that we build with families and each other as professionals. Systemic approaches help us as practitioners to use consultation and supervision to keep in mind the part we play solving problems or reflecting on what we might need to do differently to effect change.

A core principle of systemic working is that the relationship between the social worker and the child and family are the key in co-creating change. Systemic social work practice builds on well-established social work theories and introduces ideas grown from systemic psychotherapy and family therapy with a focus on patterns of communication within family relationships.  Our systemic social work approach generates and opens multiple views, hypotheses, options and pathways in working with families and children (and each other), whilst understanding that promoting lasting change in relationships sits simultaneously with managing risk and actively promoting a child's safety.

The Blackburn with Darwen systemic approach encourages our practitioners to work on the basis that problems are embedded in relationships and not just assigned to an individual child or parent. In our work with families to co-create sustained change, in a risk context, certain systemic tools and concepts can be helpful; safe uncertainty, signs of safety, understanding patterns, domains of action, first and second order change, relational responsibility and relationship to help.


Emma Ford – Deputy Director

“Blackburn with Darwen is an exciting and highly supportive place to work. We prioritise ensuring that staff are provided with good training, career progression opportunities and impactful management support.

We continue to embed our approach to systemic practice, putting the voice and experience of the child at the centre of everything we do with manageable caseloads so we can spend quality time with our children and families!

We want to increase our workforce with people who want to make a difference, develop and who can inform us how we can do things better for children and families! We offer flexible and blended working approaches so that you can have a work life balance and enjoy your time at BWD.“

Shabana Patel - Deputy Team Manager

"I am relatively new to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. I joined the organisation in August 2021 to return to a role within a safeguarding team.

I was particularly anxious regarding the shift from a referral and assessment to a safeguarding team for various reason along with the global pandemic bought new norms in to practice. I was also anxious about imminent changes Blackburn had planned with generic working and a systemic way of working, I was unsure of what complexities this would bring to an already challenging field, and that I had not had experience of working generic.


I was offered several jobs however chose Blackburn because it was close proximity to me. Blackburn have truly welcomed me with open arms and the management support is truly remarkable. What I love about Blackburn the most is how approachable and supportive all the managers are and they truly value their employees’. The services which are available for families in Blackburn are outstanding such as the pre-birth offer, the in house psychology service and regular care planning meetings which ensure cases do not drift and the intervention is impactful.

I have been promoted from a Social Worker/Independent Social Worker to a Deputy Team Manager, I am 6 months in post, reflecting back, the knowledge and skills I have learnt so quickly is unbelievable and in return my confidence has grown massively.

If you are considering a new role, I would definitely recommend Blackburn who truly promote a ‘high support, high challenge’ model. With a strong team of managers, career progression opportunities, and low caseloads, you will not be disappointed."


Charlotte Murphy - Advanced Practitioner

I moved from a neighbouring local authority in October 2020 when an opportunity for career progression as Advanced Social Work Practitioner was advertised at Blackburn with Darwen. I was immediately made to feel welcome at Blackburn with a really good induction offer to get me integrated into the ‘Blackburn way’.

As employers, Blackburn with Darwen are very supportive and also want to promote career progression in-house. I have since been given a secondment opportunity into a management position which has provided me with a further step in experience.

As an authority, there is a lot of support and encouragement to learn new skills by the vast training offer that is available. Career progression and continued development is promoted at every opportunity which is really positive for new social workers but also experienced ones.

Blackburn with Darwen is a really positive place to work!"

Alison Hartley – Leaving Care Team Manager

"I have worked for the local authority for 22years – and I have to say it’s been a fantastic work time.

I started in 1999 working at the Rapid Response Team as a support worker – working with young people to keep them out of Care, very soon I was appointed as Team manager for about 2 years.

I was then offered an opportunity to establish Operation Engage working out of Darwen police station. This was a challenging task but a great opportunity to work with other professionals.


In 2006 I moved on as Deputy Manager of Leaving Care and then on to Managing the service from 2008. And still remain in post, although I now am semi-retired and work part time – I have loved my working career in BWD."


Michelle Kay – CADS Area Team Manager

As a practitioner in Blackburn with Darwen children’s social care you are afforded the opportunity to learn in a safe and reflective environment, accessing excellent training which improves practice and allows you to creating trusted relationships with the children and families we work with.

I have worked for Blackburn with Darwen children’s social care for three years and have had had the opportunity to access excellent training opportunities including systemic training and the practice supervisor development programme which allows me to support practitioners to improve outcomes for children and their families.

I was fortunate enough to transition from a student at BwD into a social work role once I qualified, and the support offered throughout this process has been excellent. The consistent support I have received from my practice development worker, my team manager, and my deputy team manager has been nothing short of invaluable to my progression, development, and confidence as a newly qualified social worker. I would highly recommend anyone considering a career in social work to begin their ASYE journey here at BwD.


Zara Guest – Family Support Worker

The apprenticeship for me was a great opportunity to further my career into social work. I chose the 30 hour route which fits perfectly with my lifestyle and commitments. My current role as a family support worker has given me the baseline for skills that is required for social work.

The support from Blackburn with Darwen and UCLAN has been fantastic and there are so many opportunities to learn through shadowing and training. I love to learn and progress in my development and I have enjoyed my experience so far.

We do undertake ‘rolling recruitment’ so that we are always assessing and interviewing interested candidates, and if we do not have a specific vacancy available, we ensure all the checks and balances are in place ready for when we do so we can start people quickly. We also try to recruit over our established numbers of roles, to build in some capacity/flexibility and ensure that we do not have a reliance on agency workers, but look to utilise our own team members.

We have modernised our recruitment process, so gone is a long and onerous application form – replaced with an online slicker process where your CV forms the biggest part of your application. Therefore, you are in control of what information you want to share with us in the format you want to share it in. We still perform all our safer recruitment responsibilities but we want the application process to be painless for you.