After 20 years working as a top chef and caterer, Geoff Wells was nearly 40 when he qualified as a social worker. ‘I wanted to be a voice for those who often don’t have a voice,’ he says.
‘A lot of people ask me that question, do you like your job? It can be a sad space to work in because we see children and young people in crisis, who think they have no support or no one in their life.’
He says however the multi-agency team often see good outcomes. The children and young people are well supported in the unit and when it is time to leave, they are set up with a good plan, with support from community mental health teams, and community services.
Geoff says collaboration is often the key to success. He works alongside doctors, nurses, therapists, and teachers. The different agencies such as Te Whatu Ora, the Police, Ministry of Education or Oranga Tamariki, all hold a different piece of the jigsaw puzzle. ‘We all get around the table and join the dots up to work out the best plan for the young person. It is like all getting in the same waka and paddling in the same direction.’