Category Archives: Positive Social Work

feeling positive?

Sometimes and only sometimes I wondered whether I made the right choice in becoming a Social Worker.  You never finish on time, you can never achieve what you want to achieve and always blamed for something that has not gone right even if you have no control over it or not.

Despite this I can not help to feel proud to be a Social Worker for Children and Young People.  I find the everyday challenge is given back over and over on a daily basis not by the media, not by your employer but by the young people you work with.  Because despite the minority that sadly do not have a positive experience of social work intervention there still remains a majority that are grateful.  

Young People who despite being abandoned by their family, excluded from society because they struggle with managing on a daily basis.  That are grateful for any chance, someone to talk too, someone who will fight for them and support them to achieve positive outcomes.  And I guess why I enjoy working with young people rather than children, is because of the variety in expression portrayed helps me engage with harder to reach young people.

In one meeting this week a young person who I met for the first time came in to see me screaming, f’ing and was generally very angry.  Instead of finding my heart sinking instead I found it filling with pride and admiration that the young person at least cared what was happening to him.  My role was to prove that I felt the same, and this is a challenge ‘why would I be any different from anybody else this young person has already met before?’  

I also met another young person who had been living with her older siblings, passed from one to the other, but neither having the time or the wish to care for her adequately, despite full support being provided.  The impact on the young person had left her desperate for attention, which she had sort through shop lifting hoping to be caught each time.  Her maturity and pride impressed me greatly in seeking help to improve her own life and make the decision to leave this situation.  

So for me leaving social work is not a choice I can not make, however I do find that it is important to be continue my learning in order to provide the best practise I can.  And hope that through my practise I can encourage other workers to feel the same.

Guest Speaker

One of the things that I enjoy about my role is when I have the opportunity to be able to promote the team I work in and social work.  It must have been the nerves as I stood in front of 44 teachers all of whom support looked after children providing extra support and lessons for young people that need them.  My role as guest speaker however, was not as easy as I would have liked.  My time slot was just after the news of the cuts had been made to the teachers.  Each cut despite thoughtfully being made to ensure a service could be continued, still stung.  Mileage, lesson length all designed to offer greatest savings.  Although the support of these teachers had increased the GCSE success for our looked after children this year and also increased numbers of young people going to University the savings have still been enforced.

So as I began talking about the work our team does, I was mindful of the support needed from other agencies in order to achieve the best outcomes for the young people that we work with.  I was pleased after my speech that some care leavers were able to come along and also speak about their experiences of being looked after children.  What made this more special was that one of the young people was one of the first that I worked with when I had first started working.  Seeing his success made me beam with pride, and speaking with him afterwards listening to how he talked about work and managing living on his own.  This young man who had gone from crying because his parents rejected him both moving on with their new lives without him.  A young man who then turned to drink and cannabis, dropping out of school and becoming involved in petty crime.  However, finding him a stable long term foster placement and a few years later he has been able to turn this all around.

So then the second time in one week that I am asked to be a guest speaker it is with foster carers at a monthly forum meeting.  This time the pressure was on! “Why do social workers never answer the phone?” “Why are social workers always late for visits?” One thing that I like and respect is straight questions and I was certainly getting them.  However, despite this it was definitely worth it in order to talk about children who are looked after and the difficulties they may find and the importance of foster carers supporting the young people they are looking after.  I was pleased when I was thanked by the foster carers for coming in and speaking with them, however slightly worried that now I will be the point of contact for a lot of people who have questions about all aspects of social care.

Despite the knocking knees, and trembling hands I would do it all again!

Hard decisions

Have you ever wondered about how wonderful Social Work is.  Despite the negative media attention, there still is a sense of job satisfaction.  The one “Thank You”, or the one smile.  Or maybe seeing a client several years on still doing well.  Of course the other good side of Social Work is the diverse nature of the job.  Which I saw today when I met a Student Social Worker completing her final placement within a School.  But it could have been a Prison, Children Centre, Family Centre, Youth Centre, Drug and Alcohol Centre, or other Voluntary settings.  That is without the statutory settings or even independent Social Workers who have their own exciting roles.

But what happens when you stop enjoying Social Work? What happens when you stop noticing the work that you do.  When the issues become bigger than you can imagine and they start coming home with you.  Sadly this can happen more often than not, poor Supervision, and a blame culture that does not promote a positive environment to work in.  

The idea of a protected case load ensures that this does not happen to newly Qualified Social Workers who may full prey to these feelings, and may who may not receive good feedback about the work they are doing.  

However, this week my Manager has shared her recent experiences of these feelings.  Oddly I am asked to look over her CV as she wants to send it out looking for new work.  “I want you to apply for my post when I leave” she informs me.  “I can not carry on working here like this” she tells me “I need to find one more challenge or retire!”  

However, as nice as her comments are, doubts are placed in my mind and if this is what I want to do.  Do I want to work in an organisation where after a few years I may find myself in the same position.  Everyday, the pressure is on.  And rightly so, ensuring that the right plan is considered for each Young Person.  The argument to fight for services and funding for services grows harder.  With an expectation and reliance on using universal services that often do not meet the need of the young person.

The question is how long can you fight for the Young People and also for your own emotional well being.  Can I be strong enough to develop the team and ensure that they also do not feel this pressure.