“I could not do your job”. If I was given a pound for every time this comment has been said to me, I would not be sat here writing this now. It is more likely that I would be laid on a beach, somewhere offering tropical temperatures.
The fact is, a high majority of people would not want to do my job, because of various reasons and to a point, I understand why this is the case. Long working hours, high caseloads, competing demands, pressure, in addition to the abuse we often receive from the families in which we are attempting to support. Not much of a selling point for the profession!
So, why social work? There are many different reasons why people enter the profession, although I can only comment on my own journey and how I have come to be a frontline practitioner today. My journey has not been without difficulty and there have been (many) days when I have felt like throwing in the towel. “I cant do this anymore, I’m leaving”, a regular comment heard in the office, and one which I am perhaps guilty of saying myself on occasion. When I was offered a position as a senior social worker in October 2014, I started thinking, maybe there is something I am doing right after all. It had taken me 2 years to work out what social work was really all about, and still to this day, I feel there is so much more yet to learn, that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg.
Social work never has been and never will be, a straightforward-one-size-fits-all profession. Things change every day, not just in terms of the government agenda, but more in-house changes as well – members of staff joining and leaving, changing procedures, even changes in where we sit – we have to hot desk! The complexities and diverse families in which we work with do not fit in boxes, categories, headings or sub-headings, but are unique in their own way. It takes a very special set of skills to become an effective practitioner, and to enable and promote change within such complex families.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! The job is one of the most rewarding at times, particularly when there is cake in the kitchen, and the computer system is working well. On a more serious note, it is satisfying to see families making changes, protecting their children and enabling their children to have a childhood that is worth something. I know it is a job-well-done when we can end our involvement with children, with an understanding that the child is safe and will be kept safe in the future.