A review through the eyes of our Head of Children’s Services

I qualified as a social worker 34 years ago this summer and I have been reflecting on that lately; how challenging the work has been and how things have changed during the current public health crisis.

As a social worker, it is crucial to be able to develop relationships with children and their families during the assessment and support plan that comes from the work.

I always enjoyed meeting new families, starting to work with them and to work out how I could support them and improve the life chances for all the children on my caseload. Building these relationships, meeting children in person and visiting their homes to see how they live, was essential to me, to develop the support plan and monitoring for the family.

The current public health crisis has made this process extremely challenging. Families have been self-isolating or shielding depending on their individual circumstances. Social workers have had to use social media, smartphones and other innovative ways, to develop these relationships and to support young people. Social workers have stood in gardens in the rain talking to young people through open windows. They have entered houses where families have been self-isolating when required, to ensure children are safe following the raising of child protection concerns.

I have seen social workers going out on duty visits and working into the evening to visit families, mindful of the risks they are putting themselves at, by entering the home. I have seen them produce worksheets for children to complete online, to help them check out how a child is coping with lockdown and the lack of routine that their absence from school has caused. We have used conferencing apps to keep in touch as a team. It’s the highlight of my day seeing them all in their houses or the office, getting ready for another day at work.

I am proud of the work that the social workers and other key workers have undertaken to ensure the ongoing safety and support of children and their families and have never been prouder of being a member of the social work profession.

Xyla Health and Social Services has supported the social work teams with PPE and I regularly fill the office cupboards with comforting (and sometimes healthy) snacks. I can’t wait for things to be back to normal and safe and for all of us to get together again.

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