Category Archives: Jobs

Still working on work

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.

Harder to reach

Just when you thought it was safe to practise social work again after the latest scandal and in depth report.  The local safeguarding board produces its latest policies.  These are great and actually really useful, except there is a common theme them running through them all.  “Serious Case Management” or “Serious Risk Meetings” or “Management of Serious risk”.  All meetings that involve everyone within the council to analyse, reflect and examine everything that you have done, and then suggest something different.  Sometimes this can be useful, and for some cases very definitely needed.  Especially around the transition period from child to adult, when the threshold for a service suddenly rises leaving many young people with the bare minimum of support from their aftercare service.


Working with looked after Children aged between 14 to 18 years of age is not always easy for many reasons.  The latest guidance produced is ‘working with children that are harder to reach’.  Interestingly enough it suggests that many young people are harder to reach because they do not see their social worker enough!!  However, its answer to this problem is to arrange a senior managers meeting taking you further away from the young person.  Rather than allowing you more time with face to face contact allowing you to practise social work.


Today I spent most of the morning talking with one of my social workers.  Sophie (not her real name) Sophie was sharing her frustration and feelings about the current pressures of her work affecting her health.  “Its not the work Sophie talks about, its the increased reporting, longer pathway planning, computer systems creating duplication.  Statutory visits that now consist of questionnaires, and information gathering, in order for the Local Authority to keep an eye and evidence on what it is doing.


I would argue that this is the reason why many of the young people we work with are becoming harder to reach.  Losing confidence in the work we do with them because they can not see the benefit, as every visit is about information and not about them, losing the child focus and does not relate to them directly.


I like the idea that Munro gives of one continuous assessment, as long as it is accepted by everyone as a the basis for any information they receive.  This way systems could be developed that enable better communication, and perhaps even indirectly through different applications that enables the information needed to be gained in a less intrusive fashion allowing social work to be developed with the young person.


Instead at present we have the daily dilemmas of which fire to put out, balanced with the paperwork required.  Thankfully not in triplicate but still the working together document will look like a pamphlet compared to the number of people you have to remember to send all of the different information to.


Meanwhile Sophie is left frustrated and torn between the job she enjoys and the frustration of a system that is far from child friendly at times.  Hoping that the positive visits will out way all of the negative meetings, that the small progress seen are greater than the massive set backs seen on a daily basis.

Fish Bowl working – the cracks begin!

Have you ever wondered what happens when cracks start to appear in the fish bowl you are working in.  Normally you may want to get out as quickly as you can and jump into a new bigger pond.  Well lying on your side gasping for air is not ideal working conditions.  So when the tidal wave of complaints finally reaches the dizzy heights of our senior managers and directors a decision is made to employ an outside company to investigate what has gone wrong.  For many working in the office the answer is easy! There is not enough space to start, let alone every one having the facilities to make it work.


So Monday the new project is kicked off by the director explaining the process in a calm manner.  Using all of his Social Work skills expressing Empathy and Sympathy and understanding at the working conditions we are all currently experiencing.  A future carer in politics is a definite direction to take after this speech.


To test this there was even a haggle from a student Social Worker.  When the floor was asked “Can you hear me?” the answer “No!” fell on a puzzled face as the humour was lost on the director, and the rest of the floor.  After a difficult silence the rest of the message was delivered.  


The message is clear however, we know its not good.  But if you want changes it will cost money and jobs and or services!  Sitting back in my chair I wondered if everyone really heard the subtle threat in the message.


I always feel proud to be a Social Worker and the involvement and influence that you can have in the job we do through staff working groups.  Feeling a little bit passionate about my working environment I sign up for this one.  So I was disappointed to hear that not everyone else had felt the same.  And I was almost lost for words when a colleague had spent five minutes voicing her concerns was offered an opportunity to take part, only to turn around and say ” I am busy!”


So in the week that Community Care and Unison start their own research into working conditions for Social Workers.  Our little fish bowl also does its own, with my own input Championing the working conditions for our team.  


I wait to find out what the recommendations will be and whether changes will be made.  But remain thoughtful as to what the impact this might have on my job and the young people that I work with.