Social work diary: ‘Mum is struggling and being threatened with eviction’

A mother of children with learning difficulties faces eviction, the media is slurring social work, and it’s back to uni to be hit with more theory. All in a week’s work for this anonymous student social worker.

Image: posed by model (Monkey business images/Rex features)

Monday

My last day of ‘bank’ work before I go into year two of my social work degree. I’ve been working in community care over the holidays to fund my student fees.

Tonight I have some light relief. I ‘Google’ myself, as recommended on a recent ‘e-safety’ training day, and laugh at the results: a photo of me stood next to Billy Bragg at a student demo, a ‘shout out’ to a local councillor and I for helping with a BMX park campaign, a parking fine and a dog dressed as Santa (not me!).

I am pleased that the content of my online footprint is quite minimal and safe, but it makes me reflect on how difficult it is to protect children with the prolific amount of social media these days.

Tuesday

Since our year one placement finished, I’ve been volunteering on a child protection team for two days a week. I set off very early for the office and in the pod meeting, first thing, we all discuss our contacts for the day.

I head off to see a mother that I am working with. She’s struggling to cope, and with little support. Two of her four children have learning difficulties and I can see the pressure she’s under. Eviction is being threatened so I support her in contacting housing and report back to the team.

This afternoon, I collect a year nine child from school. We’ve seen each other weekly for nearly six months, so know each other well. We did the local library summer reading challenge and we go to collect her certificate and medal. Smiles all round. After a one hour drive home, I’m wiped out, so it’s a hot bath and a very early night.

Wednesday

It’s back to uni for the first day of year two. It’s really good to see everyone again. There’s no three day induction this year, and it’s straight to work with a class on social work theory. I can feel my brain creaking as it starts to take in all the new information.

After break, our lecturers leave us and the first years together so they can fire questions at us. The room is deadly quiet at first but eventually we hear all the same things we were asking a year ago! Our cohort is 26, but theirs is only 10 – a reflection of the huge increase in student fees methinks.

Thursday

This morning we are mortified to hear that during our communication skills module, we will be videoed each week in set up scenarios to practice and analyse our skills. Our fear is somewhat forgotten whilst we watch the outtakes from previous cohorts. We are in stitches!

I am furious at the Daily Mail’s irresponsible reporting AGAIN today; “How 60% of social workers would ignore a neglected child”.

This was written in response to a survey carried out by Community Care and the NSPCC. In truth the research highlighted the time it can take to pin down evidence of neglect which clearly has a huge impact on the safety and wellbeing of these children, but social workers do NOT choose to ignore children.

Friday

This morning we have ‘Practice Assessment’. Our year two placement runs from February – July and as we will hold a lot more responsibility this time, there is understandably anxiety amongst us.

The volunteer work I have been doing has reaffirmed my passion for working in children services and I hope that whatever I do for my year two placement in some way builds on my learning for this long term aim. The weekend is calling….

The author is a student social worker

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