Monthly Archives: August, 2011

Good enough?

Have you ever wondered when becoming a parent whether you will ever be a good parent? I know I do.  Everyday there is a new challenge and you wonder whether you make the right decisions for your child.  Other than being the most special job in the world, being a parent is also the one event that makes us all protective of our children.  And being a social worker I have seen this, even if this has been at different levels and different understandings.

Being a “Good Parent” is a label that is very hard to understand or achieve, I know for myself that I try to aim for ‘good enough’, and “Good Enough” is a test used in social work.  Despite what is shared in some areas of the media when working with children and their families, it is not perfection that is being looked for but instead good enough.  If the child is at immediate risk of significant harm this changes – obviously.

However, I guess what really makes me angry is that if you are going to question parenting ability then please understand what you are trying to argue.  Recently in the Riots in the UK poor parenting from single parents or low income families was one factor that was heavily blamed on the cause.

I know that this is old news now but sometimes it takes a while for the reality to sink in.  I am angry as everyone in society is responsible for the term ‘good parenting’ and providing the strong boundaries.  If we are looking for anyone to blame it would be the government for eroding this away and hiding from its responsibility for this with the budget cuts.

I guess this is a sensitive subject as I regularly challenge professionals in care homes, schools on their boundaries or lack of that they put in place.  Including yesterday when a Secure Children’s home did not want a young person back after they had caused damage to their building.  Do not blame the child or young person! because you have not done anything to prevent the behaviour.  And this is what the current Government may need to consider, with the recent cuts to all services it is important to remember that if we need to question what is ‘good enough’ it is the parent/governing style of this government!

A crazy week……….?

Wow, its one of those weeks again! well almost every week is now becoming one of those weeks.  Its like working in a pressure cooker and waiting for the perfect meal at the end of the week and instead you wait and wait and there is no end.  Every Social Worker I have supervised this week I have heard the same problems, difficulties and guilt that they are not able to keep up.

Social Work is not a job where a decision can be made with no thought, or where plans can be created without assessments, or an incident takes place and need recording, and recording and just to ensure everything is done properly recorded again.  Yes sometimes up to three times!  I wonder sometimes why I did the training? but I know why – despite this it is still a great job, the rewards are not few and far between and every now and again you hear of a young person who has left University and achieved well.  Or for others it is managing their own tenancy and not needing 24/7 support.

If I was asked to explain why there seems to be so much work I would have to argue that there is several reasons for this.  The first is easy, with all of the budget cuts the pressure is on every worker to be creative with the service we offer.  Finding solutions, supporting young people where other services have been cut, roles have been cut.  The other reason is the massive change in the guidance to the Children Act this year – great timing!

To make it harder every day the impact of the cuts digs deeper with vital posts have been cut or experienced staff’s contracts are not renewed in order to find a cheaper replacement.  Or colleagues who have their jobs under threat, worried about whether they will still have a job.

I guess what makes it more exciting is the hot desking and the sudden outbreak of sickness! just what you want in a tight small working environment, that and the questions you have to ask about the cleanliness of some people!

I hope some sense can be found, failing that a little bit of logic! okay well maybe failing both of these I wonder whether calm can be found in the office.

Big trouble from little feet

It is easy to be blissfully unaware of danger and trouble when you do not know it exists.  We trust that everyone understands common or basic rules about living in a growing multi cultural society.  But sometimes events happen that take us by surprise, even more than we thought it was possible.

Living outside of London I have thankfully been away from the majority of the trouble and relatively unaffected, although it is still a worry as I have my brother living there with his partner.  It was not until the rumours started and gossip spread that it became closer to home for me.  First of all it was the not knowing and then came the relief when I heard it was a rumour.  Sadly then came the doubt when I heard from people I trusted and loved that they had come close to the danger in areas that were being reported as clear and no trouble taking place.  Then came a feeling of disbelief and a feeling of being let down that I had not been able to receive the information to be aware of the danger.

With the recent riots there has been a lot of speculation about the causes? is it bad parenting? is it the poverty level? is the effects of government cuts? My favourite is Grand Theft Auto this game has been described as a cause for anti social behaviour?.

Working with young people it has been a hard week listening to people’s views and often very strong views about what should happen.  It is easy to understand why some people have these strong views.  And I share their anger and disbelief as it is always needless that people should lose their lives to mindless violence.  It is also horrible when part of history is destroyed and lost forever, or people’s businesses that have been created and developed over many years.

But it is important to remember that this trouble does not represent all young people or our next generation and that all young people should not be viewed in this way.  To do so will further create a divide between generations creating further fear and animosity making it harder for hard to reach young people to be engaged and accepted within society.

What it does need is greater joined up working now with the Police, Social Services and Youth Offending Teams and Charities to engage these young people and provide projects, opportunities one to one work to prevent gang activities and dependence.  And more importantly develop a resistance to No, I don’t want to be involved in your behaviours.

This will require support and funding and Big Society will be a start but it will not provide the specialist skills and knowledge required to help these young people.

Sunny Holidays

Have you ever enjoyed a British Holiday on one of the lovely coasts, I particularly enjoy the east coast and have again for the second year running enjoyed staying in Great Yarmouth.  I don’t know why? there is no particular reason why I have been drawn there.  And more importantly why I have gone back to Yarmouth for two years in a row.  Especially as the first year I stayed their, I heard on the news that Great Yarmouth suffered high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Going back this year it is clear to see this now, peak season and the school holidays and Yarmouth is quiet, there was no long lines waiting to get on to the rides.  Even waiting for fresh doughnuts I received a lecture of how the economy is going down hill and how long will, or can the traders last.
What was more worrying was listening to the hotel owner who also runs a local cub group.  Where the young people usually only stay for one term, and then when they are chased for their fees they do not come back.  Or where the grants from the council take to long to come through and the main source or income is through charity and fund raising.  This is particular worrying as the fees usually are only £25 a term, and such a great experience for young children.
The social worker in me did see a business opportunity with house prices far lower than else where in the country.  Could I set up supported living for young people? well there is certainly plenty of work for young people in Great Yarmouth with the holiday trade, even dwindling as it is the seasonal work is a great opportunity for young people to earn some quick cash.
But what I do know is that when the sun is shining, Yarmouth is beautiful, with the long beaches, and hundreds of local sights and places to visit.  The local people are friendly and come rain or shine their is plenty to do for the whole family.
It has been nice to unwind and relax, forget about work.  Okay, well nearly there is always the thought of what can I do to help someone else.  Now back at work it is straight back into what will happen when the next restructure takes place?
I know that I wish I was still on holiday and that next year I will be going back to Yarmouth!