Social work diary: ‘The investigation’s more John Le Carré than Eileen Munro’

Dog attacks, mice that eat scorpions and a series of meetings that feel like something out of a spy novel. It's all in a week's work for this anonymous social worker.

John Hurt and Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy (Image: Snap stills/Rex features)

Monday

The week starts with a pep talk about the forthcoming Ofsted inspection. As well as the usual keeping records up to date we are exhorted to do more direct work with children, and be proud of what we do.

Pride is not a word I often hear and neither is positive encouragement. It’s reassuring to know managers have confidence in us.

I go off to visit the parents of a child I am doing a child protection investigation on. As I am leaving, the father shows me a statuette that he bought through an auction. It came from Egypt.

For a while we talk about ancient Egypt and I recall a holiday I had there. It’s a long way from child protection work.

Tuesday

Visit a family to do an assessment and am assailed by their collection of pet dogs.  I carry out the interview with a miniature chihuahua on my lap; she seems to have taken a liking to me.

Later I visit two eastern European children in school – their house is very dirty and parents defy all advice to get it cleaned up.

The eight-year-old girl told me last week they had a scorpion in the house. I ask her what happened to it; she tells me the mice ate it. I hope she is joking.

Wednesday

Attend a meeting about a 14-year-old who is looked after. He won’t attend these meetings so the adults speculate about his lack of engagement and his spending time with people who supply drugs.

These meetings sound like information gathering sessions from a spy novel. More like John Le Carré than Professor Eileen Munro.

Thursday

I visit a family where the parents are separated and locked in a residence and contact battle, which is very acrimonious.

There has been a child protection investigation on father as he posted a picture of himself online along with his young children. He was wearing only a pair of children’s knickers; it is not a pretty sight.
 
I am glad I just have to investigate dad’s complaint about mother being aggressive to the children and do not have to do the Section 7 report.

Friday

I go to an Achieving Best Evidence interview but the young person objects to a male being there, so I go back to the office.

I spend the rest of the day following up referrals I made to other agencies to work with families. Most of them have complex referral forms and procedures, and there is always something else they want to know, no matter how lucid or detailed I make them.

My manager says I should be doing more referrals rather than working directly with children. It contradicts the advice given on Monday but, Ofsted or not,  it is always best to follow the last instruction.

The author is a social worker in a children’s team. 

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