For the past year I have been on a journey through Social Work, finding myself unhappy with myself and the work that I was doing. Like many Social Workers the long hours, stress and missing out on valuable family time put increased pressure on not only me but my family that could not carry on.

However, as I looked for change so did Social Work and I started to wonder whether the two would meet. Questioning my confidence to practice and manage, worrying whether quickly my circumstances would change and what this would mean for my family? I found that this added pressure just made everything worse; losing the passion and the enjoyment I once had in Social Work.

Time quickly builds up momentum and I would hear daily how frustrated and under pressure my Social Workers were. Despite Social Work moving towards better outcomes and more direct work, I found myself working in an environment where the emphasis was still to get the ‘square peg into the round hole’ that looking into the whole picture was not encouraged to focus and comply with the guidance rather than what works best for each individual families.

I found that my voice had become lost, that my arguments were laughed at and finally I found myself targeted for standing up to this. For the first time in my carer I was being questioned about my risk assessment skills! A low blow and one that I never recovered from. My manager informed me that it is not the plan that protects the children but the people involved in the plan. A great idea, but what it lacked was the understanding that you need to be able to identify the right resources and people first in order to create the plan. This type of ‘battery hen’ Social Work made me angry and you could see that the pressure was having an impact upon not just me but the Social Workers.

This type of Social Work Practice requires and demands that each social worker works above and beyond what is already expected. It demands 100% compliance, no mistakes, no learning only action. ‘Get it into Court!’ I would often hear, despite the lack of Social Work Intervention, despite the lack of understanding of what it was like for the children or young person in that family!

I have learnt that I do not enjoy change or that I like to admit defeat and that I can not do something or make a change. Sadly this year that I have learnt that I can change, I can admit I can not do something and that if I can not make a change or difference then I need to move on. It has grated on me, especially with the recent resurgence in the media about Social Work change and rebuilding the confidence in Society of the competence of Social Work Practice. Why? because where Social Work is allowed to work it can make a change, it can make a big difference. For many Social Workers there learning can be lost from University when they join a work place that focus on their compliance completely losing sight of their Social Work Practice rather than trying to work on both issues together.

It has taken a while but I have not given up, I have found my focus again! So please do not give up, Social Work does make a difference and we are important in doing this.

8 responses

  1. Jonathan Ritchie | Reply

    With respect you are deluding yourself that Social Work can change for the better. The more you comply with the demands of the social work mafia hierarchy the more you collude with their crimes such as Rochdale and Rotherham and the rest of the UK.

    1. Thank you Jonathon, but Social Work can change for the better! Society can realise that Child abuse should not be excepted, it can accept the Child Sexual Exploitation is wrong. This starts by accepting mistakes made in the past and encourage the law to change to make it easier to prosecute adults who have abused children. Social Workers do need to be able to be confident to challenge policy makers and make the changes needed! I have found some LA’s are further ahead than others and the media image of Social Work is wrong and hides a lot of good work already being completed! So i remain confident.

  2. ‘It makes me sad that this job seems only to be possible if you sacrifice your own health and wellbeing’ – quote from the BASW report, Voices from the frontline.

    Being retired I’m rather out of touch but I do know exactly what you are going through. I found that the pressures were most difficult to bear when I worked in busy, noisy office and never had a moment to myself when I was able to think/reflect. As an introvert I sometimes longed for a bit of solitude. Although I enjoyed the support of the team I also found my colleagues quite exhausting at times. Today’s Guardian has an interesting article about introverts that you may find interesting:

    If you want some advice, I would say don’t take yourself too seriously and retire at fifty!

    1. Thank you for your comment its very true that there is a sacrifice and its important that we have a choice in making it! As long as we are supported to stay well! Hope you are well?

  3. I hear you!! have been there myself, and the eroding of confidence and belief in what I was capable of took a long time to remedy. Social Work is a vocation, and balancing what we do professionally, with our personal lives can feel impossible. Am glad you’re feeling positive, and have refound your focus. the profession needs passionate committed practitioners like you! x

  4. Currently working in Child Protecting and can totally identify with what you are writing about.
    Not sure why but I keep going back every day. Seems like fewer and fewer days are good days though but I wonder if it is more because of the people I work with rather than the families.

    1. Having a good team helps, trusting your colleagues and learning from their experiences can often make the tasks easier.

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