Did I understand you?
Have you ever wondered how easy is it to communicate what you want to say? When you are anxious or nervous, angry, sad or just confused! for me I can find it very difficult and often find myself tripping over the words that I want to say.
However, as a Social Worker we learn that communication is a powerful tool that needs to be used carefully in order to make positive changes. Some people would argue however, more could be done to support families in order to help them communicate with their social worker.
Communication is therefore defined as: ‘the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium’: (Oxford dictionary).
As a Social Worker working with young people I find myself very conscious about how I communicate and often consider how I can create an environment that promotes communication. Each person I meet is different, and the way that they want to talk to me is different. Some prefer a soft caring approach, other young people need and prefer a firmer approach to help them feel safe.
But what is lost is that the spoken word is only a small amount of information that is being communicated at any time. It is very easy to argue that someone is not listening. However, it is not as easy to argue that someone is not listening when you are saying one thing whilst carrying out different actions.
There is no magic wand that can change this, our non verbal communication is often done by our subconscious. And the most damaging especially when the Social Worker meets someone for the first time and the wrong signals are sent to each other, which means an honest exchange of information is going to be harder to achieve.
In order to safeguard children is is therefore important to understand for families to understand it is okay to be challenged, as long as the points they are being challenged on are answered honestly. It is also therefore okay for this to be reciprocated and families challenge decisions made in an appropriate way, either through the complaints procedure or Judicial Review depending on the decision being made.
It is in my opinion that certainly when working with young people that support is being provided to enable good communication, through their pathway planning, looked after children’s reviews, advocates or solicitors. I would also like to see more children and young people being encouraged to take part in Participation events, working with Children’s Trusts to develop the services in their area to meet their needs.
I would also like to see the stigma being removed from people who need to have the support of Social Services and maybe their is a time for a change in title. However, the role of the social worker is very important and families should not live in fear that Social Care may knock on their door. Instead communities should work hand in hand with social care to promote a more positive supportive relationship, focusing on early intervention rather than removal.
Can you remember your carer’s advice before Connexions was created? For me it is so long ago my own memory of it is very vague. At most it was a one hour lesson and answering some questions on a computer programme. I am still delighted that my chosen carer was on that list. Looking back now, that was the total amount of my carer’s advice. The rest was down to me and luck and a lot of pressure – I mean support from my family.
Having worked closely with Connexions for the past year, I can see an immense benefit for this service. For some Young People they will know instantly what they will do in the future. Some Young People will they will be lucky enough to go down an interest that may lead them into a carer. However, there is a whole host of Young People from all parts of Society that do not fall into these categories. They have no support from family, no positive role models and may not have been looked after by the Local Authority. Their education quickly becoming low on their agenda as the need to survive in a hard-hitting Society increases.
There continues to be a rise in the numbers of Young People who are unemployed. Leaving School and not finding work, or having College course qualifications that don’t support their job applications. And at this point I do worry about my own children, and where they will find work when they are older. It seems with the loss of Woolworths that there seems to be a loss of high street jobs, with a trend moving towards online shopping continues to spread. This may be easier however, if you do live in a bigger town or city.
Therefore Connexions is not just about carer’s advice. It is a safe place to visit, where staff are friendly, and have experience to support Young People with Teenage Pregnancy, Counselling, Substance Misuse. They work with lots of different teams to provide support to all Young People. Connexions run short courses with employers that could lead to employment; they advertise jobs appropriate for Young People. Connexions are also in Colleges and support Young People to apply for College and find the right College course for them helping Young People to return to education.
So it saddens me as a Professional and as a Father knowing that this service is going to be phased out and replaced with a more generic service. Where carer’s advice will return to School’s for the Young People. Some Connexions have already gone from the town centre making it harder for Young People to gain help and support.
In today’s Society we are being encouraged to look and talk about “Big Society” it appears where people are no longer able to expect to get ‘face to face’ support. Instead you will need to have the confidence and ability and determination to find out the information for yourself using the internet (if you have access). Or maybe joining the many at your local job centre and argue and fight the bureaucracy there for information and support.
Connexions is a positive service for all Young People and one that promotes the five Key Outcomes and also supports Young People in our communities.