Social Work Stories

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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 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

Diary of a Director of Children’s Services: Part 2

July 7, 2020 | Written by

Ana Popovici, Director of Children’s Services at Wandsworth Borough Council talks about clear lines of sight, the power of feeling safe and championing social justice.

 

During this crisis I had my first ever speed dating experience! This was with the Personal Advisers, social workers, participation and housing officers in the care leaving service. Each had a minute to put their question to me and I had a minute to reply, no more.

 

Our conversations and their stories highlighted for me the absolute need for a clear line of sight and connectivity between us all. This has renewed my commitment to making sure that my line of sight does not get blurred. And the outcome: we have got ourselves a commitment to a second date.

 

A big part of my role during this crisis has been in working with our community of schools and teachers. Our teachers and school staff have played a crucial role in supporting both their schools’ community and wider civic society in recent months.

 

The power of feeling safe

 

Many colleagues have suffered the loss of loved ones. Many have experienced heightened anxiety or even fear in the wake of this terrible disease. There is a risk of a pandemic anxiety settling in, including the fear of going outside or into public spaces which are not felt safe anymore.

 

Part of our recovery planning has to be to help people locally to feel safe again.

It reminds me of the transformative power of feeling safe. Part of our recovery planning has to be to help people locally to feel safe again. Then, now and in the future, our schools will continue to provide education, stability and continuity in a changed world.  

 

If there are positives that we can take from our experience of the pandemic they are that circumstances have forced us to work in new and innovative ways, that colleagues have worked together and communicated in a way that maybe they haven’t before, and that we have become more aware of each other’s vulnerabilities and more sensitive to the situation that we each find ourselves in.

 

It is hard to imagine that life will go back exactly as it was before the pandemic. In many ways, the forever optimist in me wishes that we will collectively learn from this and strengthen practices which have emerged in this crisis. I would like us to use this crisis to generate change for the greater good.

 

Championing social justice

 

As I end this blog, I want to reflect on the most recent events around the globe which have brought the whole world together aligned and focused in a call for justice.

 

I want to share vibes of hope at times of sadness, despair and uncertainty – feelings we have all experienced since the appalling death of George Floyd. I know that George Floyd’s story had made raw the daily lived experiences of many black colleagues, children and families across the world of how they have been treated at times.

 

Whilst we might all feel angered and frightened, with the pandemic of racism now being in the public mind alongside the virus pandemic and the anxiety pandemic, I know that together we can continue to champion the fight against injustice and condemn racism with those determined actions which are within our power to bring about.

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 diary: ‘We have limited access to vulnerable children’

July 2, 2020 | Written by Temi Osonaike

This is a guest blog from Temi Osonaike, Senior Social Worker.

My alarm goes off at 8am prompt and I hop into the shower and shortly after, make myself a cup of green tea ready for the day ahead.

I have a table which I bravely collected from the spider web filled shed. I strategically placed this in my bedroom as this is the brightest room in the house.

I get to imagine I’m in a hot country, remote working…my imagination gets the better of me until I am rudely awakened by Microsoft Teams notifications. I am back in the comfort of my bedroom. I receive good morning messages from my team between 9am-9.15am and everyone is checked in and ready to commence their working day.

Checking in with children

“Hello Moto,” my work phone is switched on and phone calls begin to come in. Scheduled virtual visits with children and families subject to Child Protection and Children in Need Plans are under way.

For the most part parents and carers have been open to communication via WhatsApp video calls whilst others…well, the battle continues to ensure that the children are seen and heard.

 

The battle continues to ensure children are seen and heard.

Sighs of relief when I have checked in and seen that my children are safe.

In between phone calls and virtual visits I respond to emails, mainly from schools and health professionals, I share resources/tools with families and other colleagues, upload my case notes and meeting minutes and before I know it. 12:50 pm strikes. I receive an email reminder by my super team manager stating: ‘Team meeting starts in 10 mins, remember to log in to Microsoft Teams.’

Team meeting time

Whether we admit it or not, I for one look forward to connecting via MST with my team. I’ve observed a theme: one of my colleagues shares where her new location is during each meeting, on some days it has been Cuba, and other days it has been Colombia (in her dreams). Another of my colleagues doesn’t realise she is on mute and so we all gesture to her as if we are playing a game of charades that we can’t hear her, whilst another colleague logs in to the meeting in true social work style, a couple of minutes late.

My team manager quickly reigns everyone in and restores order to the video call. We discuss the feedback from the managers’ meeting and share our views on the impact this will have on our practice as social workers.

The meeting draws to an end, and everyone is reluctant to leave but true to our profession, we all quickly gain sight of the time and rush off (virtually) to our scheduled Children in Need review meetings or core group meetings.

At some point between the end of our daily team meetings and the end of the working day, I manage to top up on my cup of tea and get a snack. You’d think that working from home would mean you snack more because you have unlimited access to the kitchen. However, I have come to find that a day in my life as a social worker working from home is not quite the dream.

Heightened risk

The risk we are holding as professionals is heightened even more during this period, as we have limited face-to-face access to our most vulnerable children and families.

In turn we are having to evidence the extent to which we are going to ensure that we are managing such risk adequately from the confines of our home. We are doing all of this whilst ensuring we are in good enough health to be able to do this job during such a time as this.

Feelings of guilt, but also helplessness, consume me at times as I reflect on decisions yet to be made if and when a crisis is to come and I am asked to head out on a home visit. Is this a risk I am willing to take? Or is this a risk I should be taking?

I quickly deflect from this and imagine myself journeying to a hot country somewhere far from England, as the sun is blazing through my bedroom blinds.

The risk we are holding as professionals is heightened even more during this period.

 I imagine myself sat on an aeroplane and vividly hearing the air hostess saying, ‘If you are a parent and you have a child, ensure you place your own mask on before that of your child’.

My imagination is disrupted by an email from my team manager asking who among us is fit and healthy and willing to go on a home visit if directed by senior management.

For now, I haven’t had to make that decision yet. But, in light of Covid-19, I have promised that I will ensure my own mask is on as a social worker before venturing into visits which would require me to place the masks on children and families to safeguard them from harm.​​​​​​​

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).

A day in the life of a Director of Children’s Services: Part 1

June 25, 2020 | Written by Ana Popovici

Ana Popovici, Director of Children’s Services at the London Borough of Wandsworth describes leadership in uncertain times, caring for vulnerable children and hybrid working.

Every day is a roller coaster when you are the Director of Children’s Services.

Working in lockdown during the Covid-19 outbreak has been a different roller coaster but equally scary and at times exhilarating – when you can see something you are familiar with in a new light.

“I feel sometimes I am building the aeroplane I am flying.”

Whatever our own individual situation, the pandemic has affected us all powerfully, either for better or for worse. The emotional turbulence within all of us is vivid in contrast with the eerily quiet external world, at least until recently.

Virtual working in itself has not phased me. The opposite is the case. I have been fortunate in my career to work in a national role so working virtually and being physically separated from colleagues whilst staying close emotionally and psychologically is familiar to me.

What is different, new and unsettling, especially with my Southern European blood, is the social distancing rules and the limitations to contact and togetherness this brings with it.

Leading teams in times of uncertainty

At the beginning of the crisis I often wondered whether our practice during Covid can remain accurate, humble yet decisive. I wondered whether we would still be able to continue our journey to improvement, which is our narrative story, locally, to keep our finger on the pulse and to make sure no child is left out or behind. I worried about vulnerable children falling through the net, being hidden out of sight as well as hidden in plain sight at times.

As a social worker, being criticised is an occupational hazard. Our work is intense emotional labour and the stakes are always stratospheric.

Working through ambiguity and having to be bold and brave in decision making to inspire the confidence of those around you does allow room for mistakes to be made. That is the reality. Sometimes I wonder which is worse, the fear of being criticised or taking no action.

Building the aeroplane as I fly

I choose, and also encourage my team, to take actions. Actions which are evidence based. I don’t say this with the intention of diluting accountability, I merely want to place the emphasis on having to lead and inspire teams at times of uncertainty.

And the same goes for social workers in their interactions with families, children and professionals. They lead complex, intricated relationships. My aspiration for our local model of leadership of power and empowerment is a distributed one – every social worker, every support worker, all of us are leaders, role models and ambassadors for children and improving their lives. We are all leaders of our caseload or workload.

In many ways the work in a Children’s Services department is business as usual. I feel sometimes that I am building the aeroplane I am flying, piloting the plane with all the automated systems down.

One head teacher said that to me as we were talking about trying to balance our practice during the crisis with thinking about what is to follow, the recovery, the re-building stage.

Hybrid working style

Our social workers have continued to work with grace out in the community and have stayed close to children. They have a hybrid working style – direct visits and virtual visits. They have been resilient and adaptive to all the challenges we have been facing.

I think that extraordinary situations such as this can bring out the best in people, and I have been so impressed by how we are all working differently with the use of technology to keep in touch with each other, with our partners and ensuring that our vital services have continued to operate in order to safeguard and protect children.

Being a corporate parent is one of the most important parts of my job. I have tried to stay in touch and stay close to our looked after children and care leavers, albeit virtually. I am also writing to them every week.

Look out for Part 2 of Anna’s blog next week.

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).

Resources for social workers