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FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR - ANTHONY DOUGLAS

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It is no wonder Constable, Gainsborough, Britten and many others lived and found inspiration in Suffolk. Driving ar...
It is no wonder Constable, Gainsborough, Britten and many others lived and found inspiration in Suffolk. Driving around I often think how privileged I am to be paid for living and working in such a mesmeric county. At home, I look out over a bird reserve, with the sea down a track. The local pub is run by an ex-copper from the flying squad, who reflects on the boredom of surveillance jobs, of waiting around for something to happen.

Professional downtime is rare in my job. Leading a social services department is a scary privilege. I have been doing it for nine years, but each day is demanding in a completely new way. I see my duty as helping staff, users and family carers find solutions to the problems they face. If I do not add value personally, what is the point? I have a strong, loyal team, and two supercharged portfolio holders who work their socks off. We also have a supportive political opposition, which helps.

My corporate portfolio is also massively rewarding. I chair the programme board which has overseen the construction of a new corporate HQ, a state-of-the-art building which we have delivered on budget and on time. Being in the same open plan building will help departments work even more closely together.

Juggling multiple priorities is hard. Everyone in sight is fully stretched. With five primary care trusts, 343 schools, and thousands of partners from the statutory, private, community and voluntary sectors, I work in several teams and networks at the same time, each of them an important community of interest. Some are in the department, some the council, and some cross health and social care. Our learning disability partnership board, which I co-chair with a woman who uses services, has over 70 members. It can feel unwieldy, but the requirement to be inclusive is the over-riding priority.

Part of my job is to seek to raise the profile of the needs of vulnerable people, for example by asking local employers to act as recruiting agents for potential adopters, and as employers for people with disabilities. There is never a dull split

second.

Anthony Douglas

Director of social care and health,

Suffolk CC

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