This week’s writer is a local authority social worker who is taking early retirement


It’s my last week of working for the authority
that has owned me body and soul for more than 25 years. I am now
questioning my enthusiastic offer to take early
retirement/voluntary redundancy (the terminology changes depending
on the personnel officer responding). My generous offer to solve
the problem of how to fit 12 existing managers into 11 posts
following reorganisation was accepted with a little more alacrity
than I felt necessary. I had anticipated at least a little pretence
that my services would be sorely missed, or an offer of counselling
because my mind was obviously unhinged – otherwise why would I
think of leaving? Instead, the details were soon formalised and all
Ihad to do was to work out my notice.


Sit resolutely at my desk ignoring the removal
men spreading the belongings of my successor all around me. Our
cleaner, who finds us unbearably priggish because we fail to agree
with his views about female drivers, the benefits of caning
children and the superiority of the male gender, moans at me about
the amount of cleaning I am creating by tidying out the accrued
memos of 20 years. I advise him that he’s paid to clean the
offices, and perhaps now would be as good a time as any to
commence. Console myself by remembering that other attempts at
negotiating a mutually acceptable solution have resulted only in
him lecturing me on the inadequacies of female managers.


Work that requires urgent attention comes in.
A complainant has alleged that one of our foster carers is
frequently drunk in charge of children. I set up a covert mission
for the link worker to visit on spec with instructions that they
are to smell the breath of the possible miscreant, check the bins
for empties and ask the carer to walk along the edge of the kerb to
judge the likelihood of her falling into the path of the oncoming

Such allegations are commonplace nowadays,
especially from alcohol-abusing families, but they all need to be
properly investigated. I am always amazed by the positive
acceptance by carers of the need for an inquiry, and the detailed
probing into all aspects of their personal life.


Today is the turn of the team to panic, and I
am deluged with requisitions to be signed, reviews to read and
queries to be answered. I am leaving a well qualified and
experienced team who know better than me what action to take. But
their demands make me feel wanted. And as I leave in the evening, I
wonder if they have a carefully orchestrated ploy to do just


Return to the office from my last management
meeting to find a message from my spouse to say we are eating out
tonight. Bless his thoughtfulness. Collect up my personal
belongings, check that anything that can be shredded has been, and
that my increasingly long list of tasks that require following up
and general words of wisdom will be easily found. Bid a tearful
farewell to my colleagues as they leave for home, take a last look
around, and in the spirit of reconciliation say ‘Good night’ to the
cleaner as I leave. He ignores me. Hey, maybe retirement will be OK
after all.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.