Social work diary: ‘The mother tells me that my life is in danger’

After a chaotic week in child protection, my partner asks me why I continue to do my job. The truth is, it’s because I love it, writes an anonymous social worker.

'I leave the placement at midnight after calming the child' Picture credit: Image Broker/Rex Feature

Monday

I arrive back at work after a week of ill health. I always dread coming back after annual leave or being ill, as you never know what you’ll face.

It’s difficult because usually your work has been untouched. It means work that you already were stretched to do is still waiting, on top of more work.

Today I return to the knowledge that a child who had been accommodated the day prior to me going off work has had no contact with her family. The girl had sustained a broken hand after her father assaulted her.

The family have made a complaint to their MP and I am directed to make arrangements immediately. I leave work over two hours late.

Tuesday

I ask my manager to spend some time with me to go through my workload to prioritise. I am worried that I will not meet deadlines for assessments and fulfil my statutory responsibilities.

She asks me to return as many calls as possible as I have missed 50 over the week I was off. I spend four hours returning calls and apologising for calls not being returned in my absence.

I spend the next two hours catching up with recording. My manager advises me to catch up by fitting in an hour of recording every morning.

On my way home I visit children who are subject to safeguarding plans. The family were trafficked to the UK and the mother was forced into prostitution.

The children are traumatised and I am becoming increasingly worried that the mother will not allow her children to receive help.

The mother just repeats that she wants her children to be treated with medication and states: “They need pills, not talking”. I feel very frustrated.

Wednesday

Today is team meeting day. I find out that my team will be moving office later in the year but the location is unknown. The news brings a great deal of worry in the room.

Our manager thanks us for our hard work. Many of us state that we feel out of our depth with 30 plus children on our caseloads. It is days like this when I question being a social worker.

I entered the profession because I wanted to help people make positive changes in their lives. With 32 children on my caseload all I am able to do is fire fight.

I wonder if our local MP would like to spend a day with me. I feel really strongly that the general public, the media and the government do not fully appreciate what my working day entails.

Perhaps there would be a greater understanding and respect for social workers if they were able to experience it.

Thursday 

I meet a truly inspirational teenager today. Despite having experienced horrific physical abuse, he is meeting his potential in school and is making the most of his time in foster care. I discuss with him if he would consider being a mentor in the future.

At 10am a mother whose children are subject to child protection plans arrives to visit me. She is scared and tells me that both her own and my life are in danger.

A section 47 enquiry is launched. The mother and children are moved to a refuge. Eventually, the woman’s partner is located and arrested.

He is later charged with threats to kill and weapons are removed from his property. I get home at 9pm and feel worried about what could have been.

I speak to my partner about my day. He shakes his head and asks me why I continue to do the job I do. The truth is, it’s because I love it.

Friday

My plan for today was to catch up the mass of recording that I had to do given the week’s chaotic events.

At 1pm the plan goes to waste. I receive a call from a colleague after a child reports that their father has purposefully burnt them with an electric fire.

The child is crying and begging that I don’t tell anyone. I have to tell them that I can’t do this as it is my job to help keep them safe.

The mother blames the child and states that the father is going nowhere. She says that the child has to leave.

I desperately try to negotiate. Why can she not put her child first? But she outright denies that the father would ever hurt the child.

The child has a medical examination, which concludes that the injury was non-accidental. The mother is obstructive for the entirety of the enquiry and eventually I call the police as she begins to threaten me in front of her child.

The police eventually use their powers of protection and the child is placed in foster care over the weekend. I leave the placement at midnight after calming the child and settling her.

I am shattered and ready for my own family. I’m ready for the weekend and relaxation before the madness returns next Monday at 8.45am.   

Would you like to submit an anonymous social work diary? Email us here.   

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