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 meet my three colleagues in the office at 9am as there are a few team things to discuss and we have been like ships passing in the night for the last couple of weeks. Whilst in the office I receive a crisis call from Eileen and I arrange to visit her and her 14 year old daughter Anna this afternoon.
In the meantime, I go to visit Gwen. She and her husband have recently separated, mainly due to her drinking, and the children are living with their Dad. Gwen has really struggled over the last few months. On Friday she attended a doctor’s appointment and has not drunk since. She is feeling very pleased with herself and I encourage this whilst also having to remind her that this is very early days and she is nowhere near ready yet to have shared care responsibility for the children. Gwen is disappointed I feel this way.
I spend the afternoon with Eileen and Anna. Parent/child roles have become completely misinterpreted over the years. Anna has had a lot of responsibility beyond her years whilst Eileen has used drink as a coping mechanism in years gone by. Eileen is clear that this is in the past and feels things should be back to ‘normal’; Anna however can’t let go of the past and remains very angry. She is also very worried every time her mum goes out and checks her phone or follows her, needing to reassure herself Mum is not drinking. Eileen feels like she is being treated like the child and is voicing that Anna needs to go elsewhere to stay.
We spend a few hours in discussion, starting off very heated and then manage to calm things down and talk about bereavement counselling and other specialist support services. I arrange to see Eileen again on Thursday whilst Anna is at school and then to meet with Anna after school to further discuss referral options for support.
I return to the office feeling exhausted from such an intense conversation and it takes time to unwind.
I’m in the office first thing, catching up with my manager who has been on two weeks holiday. I complete a referral to a Barnardo’s service for Harry and have a phone conversation with Eileen to see how things are today after the stress of yesterday. Eileen has other stresses today as her wages had gone into the bank but various unexpected withdrawals had been made by her teenagers spending on Xbox live. Eileen is in tears; there is a lot of tension in the household again. Skilled conversation is required to problem-solve, prioritise and try to keep things in perspective.
I respond to a letter from Erin’s lawyers regarding her children’s contact with their father and the way forward.
I visit Karen and her boys. Karen is struggling to control her youngest son who is eight; we are currently waiting on a date for a Hearing. Karen is very anxious about this and where it will lead to. She is fully aware of the system and is fearful that he will be going into care whilst she is also realistic that supports being put in place at home are not working well enough to make changes. School and police are reporting incidents almost daily. Karen is in the early stages of recovery and I am concerned about the potential for relapse at this stressful time. Added to this, her social worker has been off long term sick and they have been re-allocated and I am due to go on maternity leave in the next few weeks so both sources of support are changing and new working relationships need to be built! Bad timing! We make plans for how Karen is going to manage the next few days: activities to do after school, ways to keep the boys busy without spending money and giving Riley less free time to create his own troublesome entertainment. I also make a referral to Young Carers which will be good for both boys.
I visit Susan who has a five week old baby and is struggling with the recent intervention of lots of agencies who have become involved since she was pregnant. On the whole she and baby are managing very well but all the underlying issues are causing her stress. We discuss Buttle Trust application, Warm Home Discount, school clothing and school dinner grant for older child, and groups in the area for her and baby to attend e.g. baby massage, PEEP (Peers Early Education Partnership) and parents & toddlers groups. This gives Susan lots of things to think about. I agree to get all the necessary application forms and we arrange another appointment to complete these.
I go back to the office to plan my diary for the rest of the week. I speak to two families both of whom are struggling with illness. Erin sounds breathless and was in hospital yesterday. Claire has a chest infection and sounds terrible. I arrange to see both of them next week instead.
Lots of work is being done at our office building so we are without lights and internet. I’m frustrated as I had planned to do lots of Intrelate (database) entries! It’s a good chance however to do other things like Family Support Worker’s diary, mileage & expenses and filing.
I visit Glenda who has her teenage daughter, her partner and their baby living with her. This is very tense and the financial situation is extremely difficult. Glenda is very stressed and struggling to make decisions between following her head or her heart and deciding when enough is enough. She has a younger child to consider as well. Glenda has not made it her group these last few weeks as she has lost her focus. She has been in recovery for three years but speaks about this being the most difficult time since and that she is worried about the possibility of relapse. We discuss school attendance issues with her younger son who is refusing to go. I arrange to visit for the next few mornings to support this.
I have been trying to get in touch with Karen over the last few days but have not managed to make contact with her. I make an unannounced visit to her today but still nothing. I contact the school and confirm that the children have been attending. I also make the social worker aware. The social worker saw her yesterday which is reassuring.
I am providing kinship care support to a gran who has the care of her grandson due to his mother’s alcohol use. Whilst the child is primarily supported through other sources it was felt that the gran needed guidance on parenting a child for whom life has been very difficult. She also wants some guidance on how society has changed since bringing up her own children, given that the expectations of teenagers now are somewhat different. This piece of work has come to a natural end and today is my last visit.
The afternoon is spent in the office completing a Buttle Trust application for Susan, updating Intrelate, catching up with emails, phone calls and other admin tasks, writing my To Do list and trying to organise my diary for next week. I also spend some time looking through resources to use with Riley.