Meet The Team: Nick Crabbe, I.T. Development Coordinator and Social Worker
12 February 2024
12 February 2024
12 February 2024
Name: Nick Crabbe
How long have you been working at Blue Sky?
18 years in September.
That’s a long time! Tell me about life before Blue Sky…
I first began as Placements and Recruitment Manager, and Marcus, [now the New Carer Engagement Manager] was my assistant. It quickly became evident that Marcus was much better at the role than I was and besides, I wanted to be a social worker anyway! Blue Sky helped to fund my social work degree and shifted me over to the social work team where I worked as a social work assistant and studied for the next seven years or so.
So what’s your role now?
Three days a week, I’m the I.T. Development Coordinator. That's my official title. Basically, that means I'm the Database Manager in charge of Charms. The other two days a week I’m a qualified Social Worker. I am drafted into wherever I’m needed.
Can you explain what Charms is?
Charms is the database program that we use to store all the information we gather throughout a foster carer’s career. We also log a young person’s information throughout their fostering journey. So, when a child is referred to us by the local authority, they are added to Charms. Then when we find them a placement, all the information - reviews, meetings, visits, individual work – is stored on Charms, which allows everyone across the team to understand an individual’s care requirements. It’s an incredibly important tool for everyone to stay connected and on the same page.
What’s the biggest change within Blue Sky from the last 18 years?
We've got a far greater pool of resources than we had back in the early days. We've got more offices and staff, with much more experience. If you've got a problem, you can always find somebody who's been through something similar and has turned it into a success. In the early days we often felt our way through, whereas now we work with earned confidence!
And what’s remained the same?
It's still an absolutely lovely place to work. The people who come and stay, they stay forever. If you like what we do and your face fits, then it's a really good place to work. It always has been and I don't see it changing. We're a very human-based organization.
What are your hobbies?
I’m the lead singer in a covers band. We play anything guitar-based - Beatles, Jimi Hendrix - that sort of thing. I also have a little yacht on the river Hamble that I sail on the weekends, and I just got a dog a year ago.
Favourite genre of music?
Funnily enough, I don’t really like to listen to the music that I play in my cover band! I like my daughter’s taste in music: Linkin Park and Green Day. Modern punk, I think you could call it.
One of the best aspects of working for Blue Sky?
They've been good at allowing me to follow my niche. If you've got an interest or a skill, then they're very good at taking that on board to develop and use it.
And what’s the most challenging?
Remembering people’s names! As I swap teams a lot, I can spend weeks working in a new team trying to guess who people are!
If you could change something about fostering, what would you change?
A completely new approach as to how allegations are handled. I used to be a foster carer myself 30 years ago and I feel the way it is managed across all agencies and authorities hasn’t changed.
What do you wish the world knew about fostering?
How good it feels when you meet your young person years later, and they are stable and having a happy life. When I was a foster carer, my very first placement was a two-week-old baby. As a stepfather, I hadn't had my own children so I'd never looked after such a tiny baby before. She eventually went back to live with her mum and then we met them both – this is how long ago it was - in Woolworths three years later. Her mum had a new partner who'd taken on the baby as his own and little Lucy* was there in her pushchair. It was just so lovely to acknowledge the input we'd had in giving Lucy’s mum that space. My wife taught her how to look after the baby during the three months she was with us. If it hadn't been for that, then Lucy would have been put up for adoption. She would never have had that opportunity to stay with her mum. To see them again was just lovely.
So yeah, if the world could know how good it feels when you have done the job correctly, that would mean we'd have an awful lot more happy children in the world, and probably people too.
What might be surprised to know about you?
I speak a little bit of Bulgarian.
* Name has been changed to protect privacy