Monthly Archives: December, 2011

is it working?

Have you ever wondered or noticed how young people’s behaviour can sometimes replicates those around them.  I only ask because as a social worker you are often asked about outcomes for young people and what are we trying to do to raise these outcomes.

But it is not just the people around the young people that affects their behaviour.  It is the Police as demonstrated in the August Riots, and more importantly the Government.  I am sure the Government are trying hard to reassure our anxieties and demonstrate that what they are doing is the right thing.  And maybe if you are in a lucky position where you have money, savings and your own property or several properties you maybe pleased with what the current Government are doing.

However, if you are a young person just starting out, and more worryingly you are a young person in care.  This message may not be interpreted the same, It may not even be the message you want to hear.  As services are scaled down, cut and the amount of time of important workers such as Social Workers, Counsellors, Advocates, Youth Workers, Connexion Workers that is spent with you is squeezed down.

What does this mean? it means that for some young people they will not be getting enough support, it means that they will be anxious about what is going to happen to them.  It means that their behaviours replicate this feeling.  And what does this mean for everyone else? it means that the level of engagement is often raised by professionals due to placements ending, or the young person becoming involved in Youth Offending or Substance Misuse.

At present it does not seem that this will be possible, and will continue in this cycle until more investment either in resources or in workers who can provide support and opportunity for young people who maybe in crisis or the anxiety cycle.  I do see this lack of investment as short sighted, as the longer that this is ignored the greater the cost on the individual and society.

It is also worrying as more and more people become affected by the current drastic cuts and changes to protect the few.  Will those who are left be able to follow through with the “Big Society” dream? we know that those that need a tax break will continue to do their charitable bit.  But will the rest of the society be able to pick up the gap left by connexions, Children’s centres or Youth clubs.  Will they be able to go out on to the streets and engage disaffected young people and is this safe? does it leave vulnerable people to be lead astray and exploited.

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Christmas looked after spirit

Its not long to Christmas to now, even in the office the decorations have gone up under strict health and safety guidance! I have even forced myself and the kids to listen to xmas albums on our iPod every morning during breakfast, to try and find some of that xmas spirit.  i mean this time last year it was completely different with the snow well and truly established on every inch of ground.  Making it feel like a Movie Christmas!

Big news we were also blessed with an extra hour this year for our Christmas Party! I guess know one had sent the memo to the Chief Exc saying we were going to take it anyway.  But none the less a kind gesture.  Which, the following day was followed by another  announcement of job losses and people at risk of their job.  So again xmas spirit is slashed knowing that for some people this year Christmas will be done on the tightest of budgets so that every penny.

I try to avoid sending Christmas Cards to colleagues at work, purely because I know so many people within the LA, which means to send one would mean to send hundreds.  So instead I like the idea of donating money to Charity for every card received.

It is a difficult time of the year, and whilst other workers maybe be calming down for a xmas break.  I am finding that working with young people in care that the work is…………… , Well lets be honest in general all work in social work is just getting busier!

I also find and think at this time of the year it is hard, as the young people we work with either spend time away from home or alone.  Some through choice and others because they have no family.  At least this year xmas parties have been put on for those at risk of being alone during this holiday period through the participation teams.  For some young people they may want contact with their family but continue to be let down by their family.  Others may want contact but due to the risks presented by them it may not be safe.

I wonder with all of the cuts being made whether this will be offered next year, or whether there will be money to provide Christmas Presents to children living alone in supported living placements.  In a way I am glad that I have not seen the Coca Cola advert this year with the sound of the Holidays are coming being repeated over and over again.

Post Qualifying Learning

As a qualified social worker its easy to get caught up in the work, easy to become bogged down in assessments, crisis and supporting families and other workers.  But sometimes what it is not so easy to do is to look at your own training needs.  Thankfully as a Children’s social worker there is plenty of training available and funding for the in training and safeguarding conferences.

However, as I attended University this week I learn that the specialist training award is being stopped.  I have to admit that this was not really a surprise.  As the Social Work Reform Board have made clear recommendations in order to improve the outcomes for children, families and also to ensure the profession is able to practise safely and confidently.

Confidently is the key word, Courts are wanting deadlines and delay to be slashed and in order to do this social workers must be allowed to complete accurate and in depth assessments, which will stand up to challenge in court and demonstrate experience and knowledge in the subject.

As a social worker it seems that where ever I go the people I meet want to tell me their story.  This is a good skill when it at work, but when at home it makes me cringe when I hear of stories of poor social work practise. And in most cases it usually involved a lack of cultural understanding at all levels and a lack of probing into what really is going on.  Of course, when hearing these stories my own little alarm bell goes as I only hear one side of the story further reinforcing the obvious danger of relying on limited information.

So hearing the training was going to stop I was excited that there would be some exciting new training that would further develop my learning and understanding.  Instead I was greeted with a wall of confusion and uncertainty.  There maybe in house training provided or there maybe a masters in practise teaching or even other modules being designed and offered by the University.

Leaving me wondering what this new post qualifying training will look like, and if it is in house will it be provided by social workers who no longer want to practise and hold negative views about the system they have been working in for so long.