Social Skirmishes: Rosie Warlock on living near her clients

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, shares her practitioner’s wisdom

● There has been a lot of debate recently about the ups and downs of living near to your clients (see feature p14). The downside is that you may be shouted at, harassed or even worse by some irate service user. It’s bad enough reading some of the e-mails from people who have been on the wrong side of a court decision (hint: if a court thinks you are a bit unstable, threatening to kill social workers isn’t going to convince the judge otherwise).

However, one of the joys of living and working in the same community is that you meet your clients or former clients outside work – and most are friendly and appreciative.

Occasionally, meetings can be fun such as when a young man whom I had helped a few years earlier, thanked me profusely for my help, and told me about his enthusiasm for the noble art of boxing. He also informed me that if I ever wanted anyone “sorted out, just let me know, Mrs Warlock”, while shadow boxing.

More recently I ran into a client who has put her life together and now has a job. We went for a coffee and she told me of her jobs. She had been working in a care home studying for an NVQ level two. Now she has the award, she has moved into a new job with better pay and hours.

I ask: “So where’s the new job?”

She tells me the name of the place and a terrible foreboding comes over me.

“Wasn’t that the place where there was a scandal last year?”

“Yeah, but it’s all right now – new managers, apparently,” she says, sort of unconvincingly.

Trouble just follows some people around in their life.

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