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.
There is not many times in my life where I have felt extremely happy or that I feel I have achieved something extra special. Social Worker is a battle either to keep families together or to get funding to provide the right service to the young people you work with. More frustrating than not this is often left by senior managers to the last minute. However, for me this week I have been given a smile on my face as my faith in Social Work is temporarily restored. I have found out that my wife who has been studying Social Work for the past three years has a job in her service area.
Over the past two and a bit years I have met many Social Work students of varying degrees of competence. For those that are really good the battle is the same for those who will get there. Finding work! The Social Work course rightly so, is not easy and it try’s to make you think long and hard about decisions you make. It does not however make you employable so here is the risk that many student face wanting to take those first steps into statutory Social Work. So with every assignment completed and every placement completed the worry is there – will there be a job at the end of the course? And for every student reading this I can understand this worry. For going into Social Work is not just about wanting to work with people, it is more than this. It is a passion about working and supporting vulnerable people. Despite the negative press Social Workers are always doing more and more than what is practical and manageable to ensure the people they are working with get a service.
So although this is a small thing thing for me, for my wife and many other student social workers passing the degree in Social Work is not a small thing. There have been many sacrifices, late nights and tears and finally on the home run despite all the work that is still left. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Have you ever had a day where you have tried to get into the office early to get a head start on the work you have to do. Even if it is ten minutes to read through the mountains of e-mails that seem to be sent from the time you leave the office until the following morning when you get back in. The pressure and expectations placed on us as Social Workers is for perfect work to be completed all of the time. I understand why, because if the plan is not perfect, you will have to redo the work over again. And in a day where every minute is precious, every visit a report and every telephone call creating two new jobs. This causes delay in completing actions for the Young People Social Workers are working with.
Some mornings like this morning, even those ten minutes of catch up time don’t happen. As soon as the computer has loaded up (and with the added security this is not a fast process), the first call came in, our local Missing Persons Officer who has been on leave wanted to ensure I was aware of the high risk case who had self harmed and “What was I going to do about it?”
It was a clue as to how the day was going to follow; I was pleased to find out that this was old information. I was even more pleased to find out that the worst thing that had happened this weekend had been a bad case of sun burn I could live with this. However, I was quickly finding out that both the Community Mental Health team and another Community Team for Adult Services were unable to attend a Management meeting to look at the transfer of this case from Children Services to Adult Services. A smooth transfer would be preferable to ensure the continued well being of this Young Person, but instead with three weeks until her 18th birthday I fear this is going to be a fight for a service right up until her birthday.
There is an advantage with getting as many professionals around a table to formulate the plan. Looking at what needs to be achieved and what the Young Persons wants to achieve from their life with the people who are able to help and support this plan is essential.
I was pleased however, that I was not the only one. My Manager Slips in that on top of the ever growing number of placement break downs, Young People who have been missing (and considering the unusual hot weather, could have been higher). That again there has been a new challenge one for an age assessment.
In a time where Public Service cuts, and pressures on Social Work teams to ensure savings made do not impact too much on the front line services our argument for another Social Worker continues. Days like this can leave me feeling frazzled and the pressure to absorb cases from other frontline teams means that other Social Workers also feeling frazzled. Every spare minute quickly becomes precious and fewer and far between and often at the sacrifice of something else.