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Meet our Team - Q&A with Paul Simon

This week, we've talked to Paul Simon, the Operations Manager at Juno, about his journey with Juno, and hopes for the future of the project and the residential care system.

Tell us about who you are and what you do

I’m the Operations Manager here at Juno. My job is to ensure things are running smoothly for the care team, I do a lot of background work. I make sure we find the right properties, the properties are in good areas, and they’re safe, secure, warm and welcoming. I work to ensure we have the right funding behind us to deliver on the mandate young people in care have given us.

This takes me into lots of different areas – property, funding, legals, developing relationships with local authorities and housing associations, so lots of learning and growing.

My background is in local authorities, I worked in commissioning, project and program management. Outside of work, I live locally, am a father of two, am a big LFC fan, and I’m currently training (sort of!) for the Liverpool Half Marathon.

What is your relationship to Juno?

I got involved with the project before it even was Juno. I was working for one of the nearby local authorities as the Commissioning Manager for Children’s Social Care and Early Help. I was seeing the challenges that both young people in care and the local authorities were facing in the care system – particularly the poor outcomes and rising costs in residential care. I was involved in the LCR “market reform” project in 2019/20 that looked at what could be done differently – when it came to residential care, I feasibility study was carried out by Capacity and from that, Juno was born in November 2020. We’ve worked to make that concept a reality, and that’s what we’ve been doing for over three years now. There have been many challenges, and it’s great to see how the project is coming to life, we’ve grown this organisation from nothing, so it’s been fantastic to take part in that.

How would you describe what Juno is looking to achieve?

For young people in our care, Juno is looking to help them thrive, feel loved, become the best versions of themselves and really feel cared for by great people.

Juno is also trying to shake up the market – show there’s a way to do children’s residential care differently, do it in an ethical, caring way, sharing our learnings and focussing on outcomes, not the profit.

What excites you the most about working with Juno?

It’s a combination of the people and the opportunity itself. The people around it have great values and real ambition, they all want to make a difference in the lives of young people in our care. It’s also the opportunity to work with a blank canvas – you can really make it your own and put a stamp on it. It’s rare that you get to work not to change an existing company culture but create a new one, which I think is a great opportunity for people looking to join our team.

What about the challenges? What’s going to be hard for Juno, and how should we be addressing that?

There have been many challenges already, but I think we really have the right attitude, staying positive and finding ways to overcome them, learning, and seeing the possibilities ahead of us, not the barriers. It’s a small team, but it’s supported by great partners like Regenda, Capacity, Wirral Council and others. I think a major challenge now is time. We are keen to crack on, sometimes we want to move quicker than the processes allow us, or quicker than people around us, but we want to be mindful, not rush and make sure we get things right the first time.

It's a challenge to find the right people, to form the team without compromising on the values, especially in an industry where staff shortages are already significant. But I think our offer of good pay, training and support – plus being part of something new and ethical – will overcome this.

What are your hopes for residential care in the future?

I hope that the sector becomes more of an attractive place for people to work, and others follow the standard we set, so it really becomes an ethical, caring environment. Both for young people to live in and feel cared for, and for people to work in, feel like they have a valued career.

I hope residential care also becomes viewed as a good option, not the last resort like it is seen now – it should be seen as a positive pathway. Finally, I hope residential care becomes about the outcomes for children across the board, not for profiteering.

These things will take time, but I hope in 5, or 10 years’ time, we as a country are in a better place – better outcomes, less profiteering, and more ongoing care for young people, which doesn’t stop at 18.

If that sounds like something that you’d like to be a part of and shape that future with us, please look into our vacancies!

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