What was your first task of the day?
I arrived into work early today at around 7:45am, I wouldn’t normally come in this early but I was in Court so I wanted to come in and print off some of the documents that I would need. I have found that it is always good to have a few copies of each statement/document when in Court as it gives the air of great preparation and allows you to assist solicitors if they don’t have their own copies. I then drove to Court, parked in a ridiculously expensive car park and made my way to the Court. I found one of the consultation rooms upstairs and started reading my statement. One of the most exciting things about Court is trying to recognise the solicitor that is representing you, this is often not the same person who came to earlier hearings and you often have to take a guess! On this occasion I did recognise the solicitor and we then spoke over the possible outcomes of the day.
Did you have a lunch break?
Not as such, but as I was in Court I spent over 4 hours sitting in a little room, I had time had I wished to do so. I often forgo lunch sometimes due to time constraints but often through my own choice as strange as this is viewed by my colleagues.
What was the most challenging thing that happened today?
Perhaps surprisingly it was not Court, it was twenty minutes of activity either side with hours of sitting around and waiting. I completed a visit later on in the day to a family who are residing in a hostel due to having to leave their own home. The family have been there for over three months at this point in time, they have their own self-enclosed flat but it is really not a nice place. The children have coped remarkably well over the time that they have been in the hostel but today they both looked very sad and withdrawn. It was all the more challenging as so often as a social worker families look to you for answers and in this situation all I could tell them is that housing were looking and there was nothing else I could do. I left this visit rather upset.
What was the most rewarding thing that happened today?
As tough, difficult and trying as this job can be at times, it is very often rewarding sometimes (more often than not) it is just a small thing, but they mean a lot anyway. After returning from Court I had a number of calls to return, one was to a carer on my caseload. I have worked with this particular family for nearly two years (although a colleague took the case for a few months in this time period) and they have been through a lot leading to the children now living with wider family members. I called and apologised for missing the call, I was told that it was fine and she just wanted to ring up and say thank you for everything that we (Children’s Social Care) had done for the family. No problems, no need for me to do anything, just to say thanks. Little things like this give you something to think about on the days when it is not so good.
Thinking about all the things you did today, can you give us an example of how your work has changed a service user’s life for the better or how you think it will make a difference in the future?
My attendance at Court today was part of a process, however today moved us closer to the removal of the child. Whilst this is obviously a massive, life changing decision and there are a lot of emotions involved, it is not a decision that is ever taken lightly. There are a lot of people involved in public law but there is no hiding from the fact that the majority of the evidence is provided by the social worker and this pressure can be immense. My hope is that if this child is removed it leads to a new start for them allowing them to reach their potential and be cared for in a manner that all children deserve.
When did you decide you wanted to become a social worker and how did you set about pursuing this goal?
My dream had always been to be a history teacher, following my failure to get on the course I started thinking about what else to do with my life. I had always wanted to work in a role which I felt would help people and make a genuine difference. I have a family member who was a social worker and I spoke to them about their job and whilst they would often be tired and overworked, when they talked about the job they were clearly happy and took a lot of pride in their work and the genuine difference that they made.
I searched for a job and volunteer opportunities in a field similar to social work so that I could gain experience prior to applying to University. University was difficult as I was on placement for the vast majority of the course Monday to Friday and then I had my own paid employment at the weekend. It was difficult at times and a challenge but the hard work and sacrifice has proved worth it in the end.
What advice would you give to any young people considering a career in social work?
I would be honest and say that it is a difficult job and it can regularly push you to your limits. It is not a career for the faint of heart and it will require all of your commitment. You need to be able to put aside your own personal feelings when you encounter children in a situation which they should not be in as a result of the actions of their parents, but you need to be able to work with them as well as the children to help them make positive changes. Other skills you will need are an ability to be transparent, trustworthy, reliable and committed. An ability to challenge people on their actions and opinions, professionals as well as families is another crucial skill. These are all skills and abilities that you can develop over time, no one enters a University course or a social work job with all the skills they will ever need. It is a career where you are learning new and enhancing existing skills all the time.
Final thoughts/anything else you think is important people understand about the job?
This is a crucial job; the portrayals in the media and television are often (very) wide off the mark and give no real indication of the work that goes into every day. However we are the voice of some of the most vulnerable people in society and the importance of this cannot be understated. If you become a social worker you will probably find times where you think that you cannot continue but seeing the positive changes that you can make to children and their families makes it worthwhile and vindicates all the hard work you have completed to get to that point.