The council – working alongside the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – was among 16 local authorities and health trusts across England selected to team up with charity Think Ahead to provide on-the-job training, enabling the graduates to become fully qualified social workers.
The quartet will undergo an intensive two-year programme mixing real life work experience with academic learning and leadership training.
They will begin with a six-week residential course before joining the council in September, spending the remainder of their first year learning on-the-job under the guidance of an experienced mental health social worker while also studying towards gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, needed for registration as a qualified social worker.
In the second year they take on newly qualified social worker roles in their service, and gain a master’s degree in social work.
Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our bid to be part of this Think Ahead programme, which is pioneering a new approach to bringing talented individuals into the social work profession.
“Nationally, one in three families include someone with mental health issues. The graduates will be trained to work with them to improve the social circumstances, such as relationships, support networks and living arrangements, which are having a major impact on their wellbeing.
“The on-the-job training will ensure the graduates feel confident in what is a very challenging role, and will help us further improve the already high standard of social work practice in Wolverhampton.”
She added: “It is very pleasing that the council and the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust were selected because of our commitment to addressing the social aspects of mental ill-health, and our ability to provide a structured and supported environment for Think Ahead’s intensive training approach. This reflects well on both organisations, and on the can-do attitude of our social work teams.”
Ella Joseph, Joint Chief Executive of Think Ahead, said: “We are thrilled to be working with a brilliant range of NHS Trusts and local authorities up and down the country, who are committed to the importance of social work in mental health.
“We will be working closely with these partners to provide excellent training for Think Ahead’s participants, so that they can make a real difference to the lives of people living with mental illness.”