Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind
● My niece Jeanine has taken a sudden interest in social work. Flame-haired, beautiful, world at her feet, she’s just 18. Four ‘A’s at AS level, she’s had offers from Durham, Bath and Norwich.
She wants to study business and economics. We all envisage her as some high-powered banker, suited up and making million pound deals everyday.
Until one day at my sister’s last month. After a few probing questions about my clients and colleagues, Jeanine announced that she wanted to work with the dispossessed and vulnerable.
Now, I have been a social worker for 30 years and am proud of my profession. But my first reaction with Jeanine was a feeling that I should put her off. I told her about long hours, resource woes, case loads, ever-shifting policies and priorities. I shocked myself. Why didn’t I tell her the heart-warming stories about the amazing clients and the camaraderie of colleagues?
In the end I realised that my betrayal of my profession was down to a lack of confidence. I’d put Jeanine on a pedestal. I could picture her swishing through the doors of a City bank. What vanity!
So I’d done what I have always criticised in others: doing down the public sector and the value of serving the community.
I made up my mind to broach the subject with her again and paint a brighter picture.
Then one of my colleagues was threatened by a woman with a knife. I wouldn’t want Jeanine anywhere near that.
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