Rosie Warlock tells us what’s on her mind

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

At what age should someone become a social worker? The traditional image is of a middle-aged woman, possibly with large dangling earrings (not me, honest!), and of men with beards. These stereotypes are long gone and now with universities producing young social workers in their early twenties, the profession is taking on a younger look.

Can the young’uns cut it? I have no complaints about those I have met. But there is a problem about whether clients show young social workers respect.

One social worker, 23, walked visited a single mother and her brood ranging in ages from four to 17. The mother had little time for the social worker, the younger children screamed, and the strapping 17-year-old acted in an intimidating fashion.

In another case, a young social worker went to see a teenage mother of two boys. The teenage mum just kept asking her: “What do you know, you’re straight out of college, how do you know what it’s like?”

Or clients can pick up personal traits such as accents, appearance or clothes. The office sometimes receives phone calls complaining “I don’t want that rich bitch to come round” or “That upper class twit knows nothing.”

Clients “trying it on” can be overcome by good supervision and a helpful work environment – usually some kind of rapport is built. It only becomes a serious problem when the client’s attitude means that the job can’t be done properly. In which case it’s either a change of case worker, a visit to the client to point out the consequences or a shift to a harsher policy.

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