Social Skirmishes: Rosie Warlock column 18 September

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind in her weekly column

I imagine most clients assume I’m driving a “company car” as I plonk my Renault Clio roughly adjacent to the pavement outside their residences.

Actually, I suspect the public might picture social workers going about their daily business on bicycles with baskets attached to the front full of confidential papers which gaily scatter down the street in the breeze.

But, no, my Clio is doing just fine and, I fancy, cuts a more stylish figure than the Vauxhall Corsas favoured by my colleagues. And there it is, the archetypal social worker car: the Corsa, dull perhaps, but still a cut above the car seemingly favoured by some of my clients, the battered and often “shared” Ford Fiesta.

Of all the cars I’ve driven round this borough, my favourite was my Hillman Avenger, one of the lesser 70s icons I confess. Rust-coloured, unreliable, strewn with Steely Dan cassettes plus a few fag ends and Marathon wrappers, to me it symbolises social work in the 70s, when we worked for the people and against oppressive state control. It was a chaotic and uncooperative car, but I was comfortable in it there was no hint of corporate blandness, it would never be a company car. Service users would thoroughly enjoy being offered a lift in it (maybe)… its smooth 0-30 acceleration in two minutes providing many an adrenalin rush.

OK, extreme sport it wasn’t, but I loved it. Eventually, however, the oil turned to cream, the driver’s side footwell began to give me glimpses of the road beneath and we were into the 1980s…

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