Social skirmishes

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind in her weekly column

 After 22 years in social work, there’s one thing I know: everyone has a story. There’s the ambitious director of social services who took on the role of corporate lead for council communications. At the first meeting, 14 top-ranking council officers were left tapping pencils: our dynamic director had forgotten to tell everyone the meeting had been cancelled.

 A nervous new social worker was making his first visit to an old lady. She told him how she had only one friend in the world: her little budgie, who lived in a cage in the corner of the lounge. When she left the room to make tea, the social worker decided to have a look at the bird. However, the cage door was open and, just as he reached it, the budgie suddenly flew out into his face. Screaming, he batted blindly about, managing to kill the bird just as the poor woman appeared with her tea tray.

 Best of all, a former colleague of mine in Merseyside was phoned by a client’s husband furious that his wife, who was not noted for her domesticity, was “hoovering”. The following exchange ensued:

Social worker: “That’s OK isn’t it?”

Client’s husband: “You think that’s OK?”

SW: “Sure – you should encourage it.”

CH: “What?”

SW: “Perhaps you should join in.”

CH: Phone slammed down after volley of abuse.

Later, my colleague, profoundly unfamiliar with a strong Scouse accent, realised the husband’s exasperation: his wife, he complained, had been “whoring”.

The details will differ, but we have all been there.

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