Meet Dayle Ingram, social worker

By Lucy Summers | Posted: Monday August 13, 2018

Read about how Dayle "stumbled" into social work after being an electrician for seven years.

When did you join Anglican Family Care and what is your role?

I started at Anglican Family Care in November 2017 as a rural social worker working out of the Balclutha office.

How did you get into social work?
I sort of stumbled into it. Growing up I was always interested in human behaviour and would often be the one my friends would come to for advice about how they were thinking or feeling. Growing up in a family of tradesmen, I guess it was expected I would follow the same path. I left school at 16 to start an electrical apprenticeship. This suited me as I wasn’t too fond of school. I completed my apprenticeship four years later and worked as an electrician for another three years.

One day, during a walk along the beach with my partner, now my wife, we were discussing things I had been reading about the human brain and how it influenced behaviour. My partner asked why, given such interest, had I never explored a career in the area? To which I rattled off my regular spiel about how I would love to in the future when I have more life experience. Normally this was a satisfying answer for most, but not this time. My partner challenged me further, “Look, you’re obviously not happy in your current job, why wait? Why not do it now?” After some self-doubtI responded, “Fine, I will then”. Upon returning home I hit apply on the Otago University page to study psychology. I didn’t think I’d be accepted – I was wrong.

Going to Uni was the second best decision I’ve ever made, after marrying the woman who encouraged me to enrol, of course. Unlike my experience at high school, I was interested in the material and could see it’s use in life. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed learning. Coming to the end of my psychology degree I needed to decide what was next. Most of the career paths coming out of psychology involved research, which really wasn’t me – I wanted to be out in the community working with people. Inspired by some extra papers I had done, I started looking at subjects like sociology and philosophy. When I stumbled across a description for social work, I was convinced.

What do you like best about your job? 

My job involves working alongside families to establish a positive environment for children to develop and reach their true potential. The fact that these families trust me to walk alongside them during this time, through the good and the bad, is such an honour.

What are the challenges?

Humans are complicated creatures, none of us are the same. Each child is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others. Parents can get disheartened when they see techniques working for other families but not for theirs. Sometimes when things get hard families look to us for a quick fix, but that’s not how it works. It can take a long time to learn new behaviours and even longer to unlearn others.

Building trust can be challenging. As I said earlier, I’m honoured when a family trusts me to walk alongside them. But getting to that point takes work. Not everyone is comfortable with someone coming into their home and discussing topics like parenting, health, education, finances or routines. To help ease this I make a conscious effort to be myself – nothing is more off-putting than someone acting fake or insincere.

My job involves working alongside families to establish a positive environment for children to develop and reach their true potential. The fact that these families trust me to walk alongside them during this time, through the good and the bad, is such an honour.


Please describe your typical day.
My typical day involves face-to-face visits, normally at my client’s homes. During these visits we develop and work towards achievable goals to help establish a positive environment for their children’s development. I take notes which I record electronically once back in the office. These notes, which are kept confidentially on a secure server, help me to keep track of my work and hold me accountable, to ensure I’m doing what I’m employed to do.

The rest of my time is spent researching resources and information for clients, attending training, or liaising with other services my clients are involved with, such as Work & Income, Plunket, Oranga Tamariki, mental health or the Police. Once a week I have supervision, which enables me to reflect on my work and look for opportunities to learn or improve.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I’m a bit of a movie nerd. Not only do I enjoy watching films, I’m intrigued by how they are made and the way in which visual and audio tricks influence their storytelling. Since leaving Uni I have been teaching myself videography and film making. This is a huge rabbit hole with so much to learn, like video editing, lighting, sound recording, and script writing. I have only just begun to scratch the surface, but I’m loving it.