An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has had a busy week supporting parents and their children. This entry is taken from a couple of weeks before Christmas last year.
Names have been changed
I start at the West Lothian office this morning. I am part of a learning set with Evaluation Support Scotland, so a good part of my morning is putting together some case studies and examples of working with children, and them sharing their experiences of parents in recovery. I collate some of my own examples and others from colleagues, and email them across to the facilitator.
I meet my manager to carry out a joint home visit to a new referral. Sadly when we arrive there is no answer. This is part and parcel of our work; unfortunately we deal with Did Not Answer/Attend (DNA’s) quite often.
I catch up on some emails while eating my lunch at my desk.
I spend the afternoon with a mum and her three week old baby. Mum lives with her parents at present in order to maintain the care of her baby, due to concerns surrounding mum and her previous relationship and drug misuse.
I collect a parent in Armadale and support her to attend court regarding a Family Law/Contact issue. I pick her up at 9.15am, in order to get through to Livingston for 10am. Unfortunately we are waiting until 12.20pm for her case to be called, so it is a long morning. We use this time to catch up on her plans for over Christmas and New Year. She is feeling more organised for Christmas this year, and has been buying bits and putting them away. She enjoyed putting the tree up with the children last week.
I drop the parent home and return to the office for lunch. I catch up on emails and arrangements for next week’s diary.
I meet with a parent and child after school to have a contact session within the family home. We have been working on the book ‘When a Family is in Trouble’, however the child has been struggling to see the activities as something positive, rather than ‘school work’. Today we have some fun with games which involve him engaging in a more positive and fun way with mum.
I spend the day with everyone from Circle at our quarterly Staff Development Day. This quarter it is based through in Hamilton at the newly refurbished St Mary’s Episcopal Church. The morning is spent reflecting on our projects over the last year, what worked well and what we could improve on.
All the staff meet for Christmas lunch at a nearby restaurant and it’s lovely to catch up properly with staff we don’t see very often.
I begin today with a drive out to Blackridge. Unfortunately after driving all the way there, there is no answer at the service user’s door. Sadly a good part of our work can often result in DNA’s as we target the hard-to-reach and engage families. However, we do persevere as we understand it can be difficult for them to allow people in and trust workers.
I come back to the office and catch up on some admin work. I then drive to Livingston Civic Centre for an initial joint meeting with a new referral I am adding to my caseload. I meet them along with their Social Work Addictions Team worker (SWAT). We always try to involve the referrer in the initial visit with families, as it can make meeting a new person slightly easier with someone they are already engaged with. The meeting goes well and I make arrangements to meet with the parent at their home next week to plan how Circle can support her and her son.
At our West Lothian team Christmas lunch our colleague who is on maternity leave joins us with her little baby boy, which is lovely. The lunch also involves our colleagues from West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service (WLDAS), as we work in partnership with them to deliver our Family Recovery Service.
This morning I head straight to Whitburn to meet with a service user, her parents and their Social Worker to discuss Christmas plans for contact. The parent I support has her eldest daughter cared for by her parents, and her youngest two by her aunt. Unfortunately when I arrive ‘Sophie’ shares that her Social Worker has contacted them this morning to cancel as has been called out on an emergency. I use this opportunity to catch up with her and her dad.
I head straight to another parent on the other side of West Lothian. We are due to start 1:1 sessions of Living Life to the Full (LLTTF). LLTTF involves helping service users to have a more positive outlook on life, and dealing with problems they may face on a day-to-day basis. It helps them identify tasks, but also teaches them how to break it down into manageable steps in order to achieve it, rather than setting themselves up to fail with big unachievable tasks. When I arrive ‘Cassie’ has been up all night with an unsettled baby who is unwell. Cassie shares that she has barely slept, hardly eaten and can’t remember the last time she took a shower. She looks very run down. I suggest she takes herself off for a shower, as we need her well and functioning in order to care for her baby. This feels, in my opinion, a better and more practical use of our time today. LLTTF sessions, we agree, will now commence after the festive break.
I spend the afternoon with another service user ‘Leah’ and her four week old baby girl. Leah is staying at her mum and dad’s home due to domestic violence. This has brought its own stresses, living with her parents again, but also with the addition of a new-born baby. I take them both out to the local shopping centre, so Leah can buy some Christmas cards and deal with some bills which she has been worrying about, but is struggling to get out to deal with. It is a very productive afternoon, with Leah feeling she has really achieved something, and has given them both a break from being in her parents’ home. I drop them both back at 4pm and finish up for the week.