Introducing Peter Hay
I can’t claim to be the new one in the team, but being in Birmingham and working across the services in People constantly challenges me in new ways. There’s always more to explore and find out in this fascinating city, so I hope this short piece about me will also have some surprises!
I decided to become a social worker, when as a young volunteer I saw some really bad social work being done with a family I was working with. (The social worker was sat on a sofa moving to turn up the TV whilst mother and son fought like Tom and Jerry!) I wanted social work to make a difference to the lives of children.
Whilst studying for my social work qualification, I moulded my fascination for history and people with a dissertation around a closing County Asylum for the Mentally Infirm. I met women who had spent a life institutionalised for having a pregnancy as a teenager. I walked long Victorian corridors that smelt of disinfectant. I was convinced that there had to be modern ways of caring in community settings.
These two driving passions remain at the centre of what we do, creating the best opportunities for children at the start of life and making sure we deliver as much care at home or close to home. We don’t live our lives in boxes marked out as service. In recent years, the emphasis of working on a network of partners and with greater choice and control in the hands of citizens have been some of the massive changes that we are bringing into how we achieve these aims.
Having started young, I specialised in children’s social work, then a management career and became a director for social care in 1997 in North East Lincolnshire. Somewhere on the way I spent five years studying management with the Open University, and really getting the best from learning with public and private sector colleagues. I also learnt how hard the part time study route is!
I came to Birmingham in 2003, and with our family’s three young people we enjoy living, working and being educated here. Family life revolves around our friends and large family network, a love of rugby, music, theatre and I even get to play tennis. I aim to be the next Andy Murray for the over 50’s!
My work roles over my time here have constantly evolved: from social services, through adult care, then adding in housing needs and public health and now into the People Directorate. We have achieved some things that are truly class leading (our network of extra care villages as one example); we have much more to do particularly in the improvements for children, but I believe everything is possible. Birmingham also supported me to take on some national work and in 2011/12 I was President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. I had a tumultuous year with care reform, the collapse of Southern Cross and the introduction and then pausing of the NHS changes, all adding to the experience.
My work and life has taught me many lessons. I am passionate that public services are about us and not ” others” ; demography and advances in healthcare mean that none of us know if we will need social care in later life. My children are very much part of growing up and going to school in this city. We are all participants in our services, not spectators or commentators. As such I expect everything we do to value and promote the dignity of each and every one of us. Those values, and my original motivations for my career remain to the fore in the challenge that faces us ahead.