Social work diary: ‘The school acts like a casualty department for deprived families’

The impact of benefit cuts is right in front of us but my colleagues don't seem interested in politics or the looming election

Child school
Photo by REX/West Coast Surfer/Mood Board

Monday

I visit a junior school for a child in need meeting. The have appointed a new member of staff to support parents whose benefits have been stopped and those struggling to feed families on low wages. The head teacher confides that the school acts like a casualty department for deprived families.

Tuesday

I have a child who is on a child protection plan placed with relatives living in another local authority area to keep her out of harm’s way. The local authority staff there do the fortnightly visit for us but don’t complete the required form I’d sent. It causes lots of difficulties as it looks like child has not been visited. Every fortnight there are delays and incomplete records and the final responsibility lies with me.

I call the colleague’s office and receive another reassurance that the form will be with me by the end of the day or early tomorrow. I don’t feel reassured. It’s time to get my manager to call their manager, all over a very basic form.

Wednesday

I make a visit to the mother of the child placed in the other local authority. She tells me she has stopped seeing her drug using boyfriend. She says he has got a job as a bricklayer, doesn’t take drugs and has started a new life.

The mother wants her child back. I tell her I’ll check things with the ex-partners’ social worker. On leaving I see a builders’ hard hat on a peg in the kitchen. I’ll tell her I will ask about that when I have more time tomorrow; either the boyfriend is still in touch or she does a Bob the Builder tribute act.

Thursday

Despite the closeness of local and general elections, colleagues take little interest in politics. Yet it affects on our daily lives and our clients, who experience benefit cuts and unemployment.

A family I visit this afternoon are more interested in it, and we discuss the general election. One of them is an 18-year-old and voting for the first time, so feels grown up at last.

Friday

I get contacted by a hospital telling me the mother of a family I work with has been admitted with a bacterial infection and I’ll need to go there to be tested. It’s a shock before the weekend, and I suddenly need to check out various health procedures.

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