Would I want to be young again, I wonder? It amazes me every year we hear that the GCSE grades are getting better because the exams are becoming easier. Yet, does this really say what is happening.
In my experience I have been fortunate enough to have never been out of work, homeless or destitute. But like many young people I do wonder what would happen if I did not have a job, or a skill I could sell to potential employers. In fact without my social work qualification I think I would be in great danger of struggling to find work in today’s work market.
Working with young people in care has made me more aware of the difficulties that many people especially young people find in looking for work. Placements, transports, contact, support are all areas that could affect the emotional well-being of the young people to stay employable.
There have been many schemes that try to get people back into work and the latest promotes work experience as a way of giving valuable experience in a work place. However, this has come with a well publicised criticism and most of which has been fair.
We have yet seen from this government a positive approach to enabling young people to return to work. I doubt that we will see anything meaningful until confidence is restored in employers to meaningfully recruit and expand their business again.
For young people more support is needed in helping develop their own understanding of the work market. Time dedicated in developing their own interests and knowledge so that as business shrink into the Web and out of the high streets. Young people can challenge the business markets and create their own work. Maybe if more vulnerable young people such as care leavers are encouraged to work with organisations such as the Prince’s trust their mentoring scheme could help develop this.
Or if you are someone who could help young vulnerable people develop confidence and skills needed to find work offer your help to the Prince’s Trust mentoring scheme.
Have you ever wondered what your first social work job would be like? I know that I did. I remember finishing my training and having to return to work after two years of not being in the residential home. All of the staff and the young people had changed, my views on practise had changed and my willingness to work shifts had gone out of the window. My sleep was becoming prescious due to my two young children demanding more of my time.
I was lucky in looking for work as I live on the border of four Local Authority’s and two Unitary Authority’s. The time it took to get work was an important factor in deciding where I wanted to work so this cut some prospects out. I applied online with all Authority’s and then just waited to here. I don’t mind admitting that it felt like a very long time.
It was like Christmas when the envelope finally landed on my doorstep, and it was very nearly Christmas to. My knees shaked and my hands trembled as I opened the envelope and read its contents. There was a hope that I could escape shift work and return to hours that meant that I could still spend quality time with my own family. By this time I had slotted back into working in my old job and I knew it was going to be hard saying good bye to the people that I had worked with for 8 years. I also knew that I was becoming to comfortable in that Job and if I did not move on I never would.
I should say that the interview process scared me, it had been nearly 8 years since my last interview. Then to see that I had a whole day’s worth of interviewing, with testing, group work exercises and interviews did worry me.
However, I was pleased when I finished the process feeling confident. I was even more pleased when I was accepted in post, I think I was so excited that I told the business support worker I was speaking with that I loved them! (probably at that time I did, I was so pleased). Especially as it meant my journey time to work was going to be reduced, and there was an added bonus of parking something that was very essential for me.
As a nearly qualified social worker I did not have to worry whether I was going to be a social worker in a child protection team or a Looked after team or even a child in need team. The reason, it was still a generic team covering all fields. Meaning I could develop my weaknesses as I gained in experience.
Social Work is never that easy, you must know that? A week in the job and I am told that we would all be going through “Growth and Change”. It was to quick for me to decide, which team I wanted to work in with little experience in Child Protection and all of my previous experience in LAC I did not want to specialise to early. So I went with Child Protection, wanting to work with a much younger age group than I had previously worked with.
Child Protection was a daunting experience to head towards as a newly qualified social worker. When I started it was like a whole different world, I did not know anyone in the office, I did not know the area I was working in. I had only been there twice before once for the interview and once shopping on a bus!
However, for me it did not become that scary or daunting. The home visits, the core group meetings, and Child Protection conferences became a positive challenge to achieve positive change for families. Sometimes when the risk became to high the court process was initiated, but even this did not worry me as I worked in an open and honest fashion. Although giving evidence is never easy and with your heart pumping you can understand how the people you work with may feel, when seeing me at their doorstep.
Would I change the path that I have gone down? No! Child Protection has given me a good understanding or risk, understanding working together in its truest form. I understand how precious life is and fragile it can be when a referral is made. I have learnt how hard some people struggle to break out and change everything they know. Especially when they lack the support from their own friends and family. Something I have always taken for granted in my own life.
Alot has changed since my first day, I now know everyone and everyone knows me. I know the community and how the different groups interact. I know most of the professionals and joint working has become easier. The only thing that has not changed is the love of the job and the challenges and support that children and their families need has not.