An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has had a busy week supporting parents and their children.
Names have been changed
I begin the week with a morning run and then attend our team meeting at our head office. I am usually based in a recovery hub, so it’s good to catch up with work colleagues and to work through our team meeting agenda.
I head to the hub following the team meeting, this gives me an opportunity to catch up on e-mails and phone calls. I then meet with a single mother of a ten year old daughter. She has been trying herself to resolve a matter to do with child tax credits. This has been going on for many months, so she is now allowing me to ask for an appointment with an agency who can support her with this. I have made an appointment to which I will accompany her and I am able to share this with her. She texts me later to thank me for helping her. I have also been supporting her with contact between her daughter and her father. He would like this increased, so I encourage the mother to ask her daughter for her views on this matter, as it is important her opinion is considered too.
I am a practice teacher and this morning I attend a practice teachers’ meeting at the University of Edinburgh. I have a first placement student with me and we are already half way through the placement. It will soon be time to think about the final report. The meeting this morning is to look at what is expected of both the student and the practice teacher in relation to this report. It is good to meet up with other practice teachers and to share and listen to the experiences of others.
In the afternoon I carry out a second direct observation with the student. This is our second attempt. We had arranged to meet the service user the previous week, but she had forgotten despite being reminded that we were coming. Often students can become very nervous about being “watched”, so it had been disappointing that it had been rescheduled. The service user makes us very welcome and the observation goes well.
My student and I have supervision in the morning. At the beginning of any placement, supervision dates and times are set aside in our diaries for the duration of the placement. We discuss families the student is supporting, the learning needs of the student, how theory is applied to the practice, and on this occasion we reflect on the direct observation.
Following supervision I meet with a single mother of a little boy. He was removed from her care a few days after birth, as there were concerns about her drug use. She worked hard to address her drug use and other concerns social work raised with her and her young son has since been placed back into her care full time.
A few years ago she witnessed a terrible accident which left her traumatised. She has found it difficult to go out as she doesn’t like the sound of traffic. We have been looking at strategies she can put in place and she has found something that works for her. She has also attended ‘Thrive to Survive’, which she was initially very nervous about attending, however she feels she has benefitted enormously from suggestions on coping mechanisms and has put these suggestions into place. On one occasion her son had hurt himself and she said she could feel herself panicking, but she implemented a coping strategy and managed the situation calmly.
As an agency we are able to access free paint from the Paint Shed. We go along to ask for paint for her son’s bedroom. The staff are extremely supportive and she comes away with paint for the whole of her flat!
In the morning I attend a Core Group Meeting. I am supporting a father of two children. There are concerns about his drug and alcohol use and it is the recommendation of the social worker that the children are placed with family members whilst the father goes into the Ritson clinic. This piece of work is currently being undertaken by social work.
Later I meet with a mother who has an alcohol problem. She initially was very reluctant to accept the support I could offer and felt it was her daughter who needed the support. I encouraged her to meet me and we have since built up a very positive relationship. I had hoped her daughter would accept support from my student, but unfortunately she refused. I still feel her daughter would benefit from support; apparently she becomes very angry when seeing her mother drink, she pours drink down the sink and her mother describes her as being “embarrassed by her mom”. She won’t have friends to the house or allow her mother to talk to her friends.
I meet with the mother fortnightly; she also works and has other health issues for which she attends the hospital regularly. She shares with me what and how often she has been drinking and the consequences this is having on her relationship with her husband and other older children.
Yesterday I received a phone call from a service user I am supporting. She was upset about contact with her one year old child, so I had asked her to meet with me today. The baby was accommodated due to concerns about parental alcohol use. Previously this young mother has had five children accommodated by the local authority. The baby has been with carers now for six months. Contact has been going well and has been increased. A STEPS assessment is currently being undertaken at a Child and Family Centre. The mother presents as being low in mood, she shares with me she felt her baby couldn’t wait to go back to the carer. We discuss this and she is able to talk through her concerns. Her mood lifts by the end of our meeting.
Where possible I try to protect Friday afternoon. This gives me the opportunity to complete paper work and make phone calls before finishing for the weekend.