Only 13 shopping days left till Christmas and you still haven’t found the perfect stocking filler present for that special social worker in your life? Fear not, Andrew Mickel has trawled the shops and found some crackers
For the social worker who complains about how busy they are
Think your work keeps you on your toes? Then ponder where Birmingham social worker Gaynor Arnold found the time to pen the Booker-nominated novel Girl in a Blue Dress between shifts at her day job.
The book is a fictionalised account of the life of Charles Dickens’ wife, Catherine. Arnold previously worked in the children’s department at Birmingham, so she is well placed to pen a convincing account of coping with a 10-child family.
Alternatively, fresh from her nominations for two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, former Scottish Women’s Aid staffer Karine Polwart released her third album This Earthly Spell in March. The Scottish folk singer has previously said she’s drawn on her old work in her music – there are free downloads at karinepolwart.com so give her a spin before you buy.
For the social worker who needs to de-stress
If you’re stuck in a deskbound job where a trip to the stationery cupboard is the highlight of your day, then grabbing an Office Voodoo Set, complete with reversible ladyboss/manboss pictures and a set of pins, could help relieve the tension (£7.99 at find-me-a-gift.co.uk).
Alternatively, bring some animal therapy into the workplace with Sea Monkeys (about a fiver on Amazon Marketplace). The miniature shrimp grow to roughly half an inch long and live in a six-inch high glass jar, which usefully can be easily shoved in a drawer so your boss doesn’t notice that you’re farming fish at your desk.
If that hasn’t done the trick, then a giant stress ball (£10 from the Gadget Shop) is probably your last option before you have to drive to your nearest airport to purchase a carton of B&H.
For the social worker who likes to think about their job
Sue Miller’s autobiography Death of a Social Worker chronicles a mix of her family struggles and her changing job as a social worker. From her father’s infidelities at her childhood home to contemporary cost-cutting at work, it’s rare to see a social worker’s personal and professional life pulled together so tightly. This may not be the best written book of the year, but her humanity in dealing with challenges shines through.
Or catch-up on series three of Harry Venning’s politically-correct comedy creation Clare in the Community, released earlier this year as a three CD set. (Bafflingly, despite series five airing on BBC Radio 4 early next year, there’s no sign of series four being available yet). At work, Clare has a new student social worker with an army background to mentor, while at home she prepares a one-year-old’s birthday party and goes house hunting.
For the social worker with a conscience to appease
It’s always difficult to receive a card telling you that, in lieu of that iPod nano you were angling for this Christmas, the money has instead been spent on giving someone a goat in Kenya. But there are charity gifts that involve giving something better than a picture of livestock. Goodgifts.org’s Peace Oil (£14.95 a bottle) is a safe bet for foodies – it has won awards as a quality olive oil. You could grab some tickets to the Crisis Comedy Cracker (£12 a ticket) at London Islington’s Pleasance Theatre on 12 December, starring Pappy’s Fun Club. Or you can pick up a copy of It’s A Cool, Cool Christmas (available on Amazon Marketplace), an indie Christmas album to raise funds for Shelter. It was recorded in 2000 so you may have to make a donation to the charity separately now, but any amount of cash is worth ensuring you don’t have to play Noddy Holder this Christmas.
This article appeared in the 11 December issue under the headline “Gift aid”