Diary: A practitioner’s take on the week. A social worker on a weekend away writes
Saturday – day I am looking forward to my two-day shift with young people in care. Planning how to make the week’s shopping fun for them, I do a risk assessment on “supermarket sweep”. That’s a life skill I have been perfecting for years between school runs and work. It involves ripping the shopping list in half and entrusting my charges with a trolley token each. I wait in the till and exit area and watch giggling young people trying to push wonky trolleys up and down the aisles against the clock, while they search for ingredients.
Saturday – evening We all play Monopoly. I end up in jail while the young people become property owners. I hope life does get better for them. We describe our dream houses and imaginations run riot. The young people point out that I am already grown up so I assure them I am not as I don’t own a swimming pool yet and I will never get it if I keep ending up in jail.
Sunday – day We make a chocolate cake and decorate it with grated Penguin bars because we forgot the hundreds and thousands. Playing Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five loudly we all take part in cleaning up the kitchen and sing into the broom handles. In the afternoon we ramble over the Welsh hills.
Sunday – evening The young people phone home and write letters with photos. Pictures of us all covered in flour, eating cake with thumbs up. Tears at bedtime, one young woman recalls her mum used to make chocolate cake. Tissues, a story and reassurance that mum’s cake is still the very best and the house settles.
Monday Gently waking our young people with a hot cup of tea, I tell them exactly when I will be next on shift. I tell them to be good and they ask me how many days until I return. The young woman who was upset the night before is refusing to get up for education. My shift runs on a bit as my powers of persuasion run from “Last one downstairs is a smelly monkey” (worked last time) to the revelation that the sheep’s skull we found in a field cleaned, bleached and named has been put on the chair of the school teacher. This should cause terror as the chair is pulled from under the desk. Young person is up and dressed in a flash keen to witness the fun. Said teacher was primed to scream at the correct moment. I love my job.