Social Work Stories

SHARE YOUR SOCIAL WORK STORIES

Share your experiences

Stories from you about your teams, colleagues and work can help inspire other social and care workers of all kinds and bring some light to difficult days.

 

We want to create a hub for your voices.

 

We don’t mind what you want to share, it could be something which made you smile, laugh or cry. It could be about your colleagues, the people you support or how you’re feeling about your work and how it is evolving.

 

We know you will be stretched and digging deep to keep offering your communities support and hope in such challenging circumstances. Tell us about it, if you can.

 

It could be long or short. Even if you’ve already posted something somewhere we are happy to link, like and share on Twitter @socialworkaward

 

Email Us

Email us at stories@socialworkawards.com with your name, job title, social care number (just so we know you are a social care worker, we will keep it private) and phone number, so we can get in touch if we need more information.

 

Tell us if you are happy for us to use your name and what kind of social work you do, but if you want to keep that private, that’s fine too.

  • Have changes to the way you work brought unexpected outcomes to your practice as an individual or in teams?

 

  • Are you seeing changes in the needs of the people you work with? How have you responded to this?

 

  • How would you describe what you do as a social worker? What would you tell someone about the impact social workers can have on people, day-in day-out?

 

  • What one thing would you tell another social worker about you recent experiences?

 

  • Can you share a photo?

 

Read the Latest

Lockdown reflection: A day in the life with Sue Connell

September 20, 2020 | Written by Sue Connell


This is a guest blog by Sue Connell, Professional Practice Development Advisor at the London Borough of Wandsworth.


As an ASYE (Assessed and Supported Year of Employment) assessor, I work closely with Wandsworth’s Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs) as part of the Wandsworth Children Social Care Academy (WCSCA).

The ASYE programme replaces the regular probation period and so this is a really important time for our NQSWs. Thanks to the team, the ASYE processes are continuing. The processes include: virtual panel, ASYE update meetings, the full ASYE programme of reflective supervision, support, regular reviews, appraising reflective pieces and observations.

So, how do we manage this all from home? I’m not sure how I would have coped without my little computer, but I’ve been amazed with Microsoft teams and have used Skype (for business) too.

we’re dealing with layers of risk, loss, transition and the emotions that this brings

I’m pleased to say that our reflective supervisions –  where our NQSWs look at how theories apply to their work, resilience building and self-care skills, and anything else they would like to discuss – have been met with enthusiasm and I’ve been able to link in and continue to assess and support. Luckily, I have scanned the reflective resources that we use so we have a range of choices and levels of reflection. ​​​​​​​

With each meeting, I’ve come away with great ideas that NQSWs have brought to the table – they’re such fabulous team players. We’re developing virtual observations and have made a start on these. Reviews have been surprisingly easy and straight forward. I would add that the current situation brings an element of focus too: ‘getting straight to it’ as there’s so much screen time. ​​​​​​​

I am missing the impromptu visits and being able to ‘just ask’ a question.

One pattern that’s come up for the group is how busy they are, but in a different way. It’s a good reminder that we’re dealing with layers of risk, loss, transition and the emotions that this brings – I’m certainly finding that.

Florence and I facilitate Action Learning Sets, which is a sort of structured peer supervision. We will be arranging to facilitate these virtually to ensure this ongoing support at a time when it’s most needed. I am booked onto the webinar for my first bit of training on how best to adjust to the virtual style – such a learning curve!

Of course, there are challenges; the ‘togetherness’ is harder to maintain and takes that bit of extra work. I am missing the impromptu visits and being able to ‘just ask’ a question. Also, coffee time in the office is a great opportunity for team building and I’m missing that. So, we must be creative and put in that extra effort to keep connected.

Today, I will be working on my next final report. It’s a privilege to capture (and analyse) all the hard work and learning that each of our NQSWs have completed and to see them ‘fly the nest’.

… well, a cup of tea always helps too.

We have three due for panel and more coming through soon. The couple of virtual meetings later will bring a nice balance to the day. What else? … well, a cup of tea always helps too.

Tell us your social work story at stories@socialworkawards.com telling us your name, job, contact details and social care number (just so we know you’re a social worker, we will keep it private).

If you can’t go home, we will bring home to you.

September 3, 2020 | Written by Wendy Ashton

This is a guest blog by Wendy Ashton, Palliative Care Social Worker and Family Support Team Lead at Eden Valley Hospice and winner of the Making a Difference Social Worker of the Year Award 2018.


As a palliative care social worker in a Hospice, Covid 19 has really challenged my ethics, morals and ways I practice – hopefully for the better in the long term.

I work in a small Hospice that covers a vast rural community as a full time Palliative Care Social Worker and Family Support Team Lead. I work with people at end of life who have complex needs and aim to make the time that people have left as happy and content as possible. A large part of my role involves working with families and friends as well as clients.

Technology for good

Often, a patient is too unwell to return home and chooses to die at the Hospice. A last wish is often to see home for one last time, and we can arrange this with a carer and transport for an hour at home. It is tricky to organise, but it is worth it when you see the joy on that patient’s face when they return after seeing home for the last time.

The High School Musical Song ‘We’re all in this together’ springs to mind frequently

Unfortunately, this was not an achievable goal with lockdown. However, I am not one to give up so, after speaking to the patient’s husband, we set up for him to video the house room by room – including the cats in it too.


The patient’s husband did this and, after a bit of IT help, we downloaded 2 short videos onto a laptop that we left in the patient’s room. She watched the clips with animation, showing staff her beautiful home that she was so proud of.

The cats (too feral to visit apparently – we had suggested) also made an appearance and the patient was ecstatic to see them. She watched those clips daily for a couple of weeks before she became too unwell to watch. A truly positive and happy outcome. If you can’t go home, we will bring home to you.

Supporting families

On another day, a patient was dying and was Covid positive. One family member was allowed to see her – with full PPE on – but others were upset they could not say goodbye too. I set up a WhatsApp call with the family so they could all say their goodbyes to her.

Although the patient was unresponsive, hearing is the last sense to go – we truly believe she died knowing that all her loved ones said goodbye before she died.

we have given lots of virtual hugs and hands on shoulders to comfort

We also had volunteers knitting hearts for the Hospice; the patient kept one and her family were sent matching ones that were bagged for the quarantine period prior to sending out.

Keeping connected

As a social worker I have used Facetime and WhatsApp to connect family and friends. We’ve had family/MDT meetings in the gardens sat 2 metres apart, and we have given lots of virtual hugs and hands on shoulders to comfort. It has been difficult at times trying to make a difference at end of life, but I feel we have been successful within our restrictions and limits.

I’ve had heart-breaking moments when I could not initiate change. A lady in her 50s was troubled constantly in her last week of life. When I asked what was wrong and could if I help, she told me that she was struggling to decide which 10 people could go to her funeral. How on earth can you answer that?  I could not do anything except listen – often that helps.

A good quality of life is so important even if it is only for a day or two. I love my job and hope that we can continue to work to achieve dreams and happiness at end of life with our clients and families. I know I will keep on trying.

I could not do anything except listen – often that helps

Social workers play such a valuable role at end of life for both clients and families and friends.

Tell us your social work story at stories@socialworkawards.com telling us your name, job, contact details and social care number (just so we know you’re a social worker, we will keep it private).

Lockdown diaries : A day in life with Mary Scarlett

August 24, 2020 | Written by Mary Scarlett

This is a guest blog by Mary Scarlett, Safeguarding (Schools) Lead Training and Development Officer at Wandsworth Children’s Social Care Academy


Will social distancing be our new working norm?

When I left the office on 10th March, I had no idea of the roller-coaster of thoughts and emotions I was sleepwalking into, and that I would finally hit a “brick wall” at about the fourth week.

At the beginning, I thought it was a bit of a novelty, even though working from home and using virtual platforms has always been a significant feature of my Social Work life.   

Initially, I welcomed the team daily Keeping in Touch (KIT) meetings using the MS Teams platform.  I willingly attended every day even though I worked 3 days a week.  That soon wore off, appearing to me as no longer being a choice, but a necessity. 

I had no idea of the roller-coaster of thoughts and emotions I was sleepwalking into

In what seemed to be a wave of anxiety, I began to think that if I did not attend and take responsibility for my understanding and learning, I would always be behind the curve playing catch up.

It was like a runaway train, every man for himself justifying the adaptability of their roles in these unprecedented circumstances. ​​​​​​

What also became apparent to me, was the different group dynamics that played out in the team virtual meetings; this had me thinking about the four group stages: forming, storming, norming and performing

Whilst I acknowledged we were an established group; in reality we were a group trying to operate and communicate in very different situational circumstances which seemed to be working for some and not for others.

It was like a runaway train, every man for himself

It appeared to be “business as usual,” but in my mind it couldn’t be – these were unprecedented times, things were moving and changing very fast, both in our personal and working lives.

Technology had become our new BFF as well as an appendage which you wanted to cut off when it did not work, only adding to the anxiety and stress.

The level of information that was being shared and meetings being convened felt like “white noise”; it was not relevant to my role and it felt impossible to retain it all.  

It appeared to be “business as usual,” but in my mind it couldn’t be

I soon mentally and emotionally withdrew from the process, choosing to be visible or invisible during the team meetings depending on how I was feeling that morning, and it seemed to me no-one noticed. 

What I have taken away from this lockdown period is, as agents of change, how much do we really hear, are we even listening, and how much do we really see, or notice, when we’re looking at each other on a screen?

For some it’s may be the new way forward for practice but, for me, there is the danger, is it taking us down a path of permanent social distancing? ​​​​​​​

Share your social work story at stories@socialworkawards.com telling us your name, job, contact details and social care number (just so we know you’re a social worker, we will keep it private).

Resources for social workers