Social care staff on the joys of their profession
Catriona Grant is a social worker at Edinburgh Council’s domestic violence probation project.
We work with men to address their violence and abuse of partners and ex- partners. Attending the programme is part of their probation. My job is working with the partners and ex-partners of those men. This is the job I always wanted to do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
I have been a victim of domestic abuse and campaigned for eight years previous to taking up my post for more resources for women in domestic abuse situations. I decided to study social work as I wanted to work in the domestic abuse field, particularly with women. I feel my job is totally congruent with my values and beliefs.
My colleague, Anna, and I work with over 70 women. We support one another and ask each other hard questions to justify why we are doing whatever we do – two heads are better than one. We work with women to develop plans so they can be safe living wherever they choose.
The best bits of the work are being with the women – supporting them, working out safety plans, explaining risk assessments, sharing fears and desires. The theory of safety planning works by getting women to look at the risks and planning round them.
You build really close relationships with the women and I have never worked with a woman I didn’t like. It can be very intense. Sometimes it is overwhelming and terribly frustrating.
The thing I hate most is agencies and workers not doing their job properly (or at least how I perceive it should be done) or people who won’t do something because it’s outside their remit. I abhor workers who come across like they are doing you a favour just by doing their job. If I had a choice between a £10,000 pay rise and nothing changing or agencies taking domestic abuse seriously and no pay rise, I would be ecstatic about the latter.
I also hate paperwork and bureaucracy. My mottos are “Just get it done” and “Nothing is impossible”.
I cry quite a lot at work, at least once a week. Usually out of frustration or anger but sometimes out of sadness. But mostly my colleagues and I laugh. We are always telling stories and jokes. We think we are quite funny (others might disagree) and we like to make one another laugh, which we do quite a lot. There seems to be a shared sense of humour.
I enjoy coming back to the office in order to find out what everyone, especially those who work with the men on probation, have been up to that day.
My advice to others doing the same work would be to believe in yourself, don’t lose your temper, sleep well at night and defend every decision you make. If you have good colleagues appreciate them and tell them but most of all enjoy yourself.