A social work recruitment specialist is celebrating its 20th year in business.
Entrust Social Care was started in 2002 by Ian Brindley together with his late wife Jocelyn and their niece, Kate Mannion.
For the past two decades, the company has been supplying qualified social workers and social work assistants to local authorities and private agencies across the UK.
At its height, Entrust had a 15-strong team operating from offices at Keele University’s Science Park, with a network of more than 100 locum staff.
Today, Entrust is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre and now operates with a team of five, having successfully negotiated a number of economic challenges over the years.
READ MORE: The 19 richest people in the Midlands who are worth a combined £34 billion
Ian said: “When we first started Entrust, I was working as an IT and management consultant. I’d been doing that for around 20 years and I just wanted a change and a new challenge.
“An opportunity presented itself and myself and my then business partner, who worked in social services, decided to start a social work recruitment business. At the time we felt that agencies operating in the sector were charging unreasonably high rates and making enormous margins, so we decided we would pay the locums more and charge the clients less.
“We started with a handful of locums, but we grew really, really quickly and within six months I left my day job and started to work at Entrust on a full-time basis. We were very busy, and grew quite rapidly, and that carried on for the next 10 years or so.”
Over the years Entrust has faced a number of difficult challenges which meant it has been forced to downsize.
This includes shrinking budgets within the social services sector and a ‘significant amount’ of legislative changes which led to a reduction in the amount of available locum staff.
BusinessLive is your home for business news from around the country – and you can stay in touch with all the latest news through our email alerts.
You can sign up to receive daily morning news bulletins from every region we cover and to weekly email bulletins covering key economic sectors from manufacturing to technology and enterprise. And we’ll send out breaking news alerts for any stories we think you can’t miss.
Visit our email preference centre to sign up to all the latest news from BusinessLive.
Ian said: “Things started to change about 10 years ago when the budgets within social services became so constrained.
“Pay rates and agency margins were cut right back to the bare minimum and it got to the point where it was just about sustainable. We were fortunate because, being located in the Stoke-on-Trent area, our fixed cost base was quite low compared to cities such as London and Birmingham. We have therefore been able to survive and remain profitable throughout this period and have done ever since.
“Having said that, it remains quite challenging to keep running a profitable business in the way that we used to when margins are effectively on a constant downward trajectory due to inflation.”
Over the past two years, Entrust has made a number of operational changes to the business which has led to it securing a significant amount of new work in the London and South East regions.
Now Kate and Ian are confident for the future and focused on continued growth.
Kate said: “We’ve been running a really tight ship for the past 12 years, holding our heads above water and maintaining profitability. But over the last 12 months we have enjoyed a significant increase in business in the south east of the country where we have found a unique selling point in the market. It’s made a huge difference and this year in particular, we’ve probably seen a 200 per cent increase in placements compared to the previous two years.”
Ian added: “The whole change in circumstances resulting largely from the pandemic has enabled us to enjoy a real growth spurt and we are now really confident that, going forward, we can start getting the business back to the level it was at 10 years ago.
“Two years ago, we were really concerned about the state of the market but we have a renewed confidence and are optimistic that we will still be here in another 20 years.
“Thank you to all our recruitment staff that have worked with us over the past 20 years, together with all of our valued social work locums and clients, without whom none of this would have been possible.”