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 with my manager for supervision. We get regular supervision to make sure we are keeping on track with families. We have a particularly useful discussion around a family we have been working with for an extended period of time, through the child protection system and now supporting the family after a parental separation. Reviewing the support plan with the family was challenging, particularly defining shared positive goals for the children and future.
I meet up with the father who has recently been made redundant. Mike had worked at the pub for years and is finding it difficult to adapt to family life. We are able to identify positive steps he can take to find employment again as well as arrange a time to meet up with the whole family to discuss expectations and changing roles in the interim. We make a plan to meet the children as well next week.
I make a phone call to the Harris family ahead of the child protection core group meeting tomorrow morning. The parents are understandably anxious about this, as while everyone aims to have as supportive an atmosphere as possible, being under such scrutiny is difficult. We talk about the goals the family have set and some of the positive signs we are seeing and can discuss tomorrow.
I hit the shops to get some supplies for the two groups I will help run today. Milk and plenty of biscuits (chocolate Hobnobs – life is too short for plain biscuits!). As always there are the healthy grapes and oranges as well. We run a couple of accredited parenting courses collaboratively with other organisations or with their own staffing team. I meet with one parent for individual support around their involvement in statutory child protection processes.
Between groups I have a meeting with a family and their statutory Social Worker. We’ve undertaken a specific bit of work to map out the family tree and are discussing the impact of the family’s history. The hope is that we will be able to find additional support within the broader family to help the positive changes the parents are already making within the household.
I have coffee with the new worker from a local parenting support organisation. We have worked collaboratively with this organisation in the past and this gives the new worker, James, a chance to see where we are based and hear about the work we do.
I meet up with Vicky, mum, and Laura, 2 years old. The parents’ relationship ended shortly after I started working with the family, mainly around the impact of domestic abuse on Laura. Both parents and I have a greater understanding of the impact of the violence within their relationship on Laura. Today we have a play session at the local community centre. It is an opportunity for me to support Vicky’s bond with Laura and observe their relationship. I will do the same with Richie, dad, next week as well as supporting mediation between the couple to create a long-term plan.
I go to visit Dmitri, a dad who is now in the sole care of his children following a prolonged period of ill-health for mum. We’ve been successful in getting funds from a charitable trust for Dmitri and his children and make arrangements to get materials to improve the house.
Arriving back at the project I am met by a parent at the door. They are anxious about a benefits letter they have received. We read through it and make an appointment with a financial inclusion worker whom we can access through Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC). The parent is a keen gardener and helped with our small community garden plot last year. We make arrangements to meet up on Friday to overhaul the garden ready for the new growing season.
I meet up with Sarah Harris, mum, ahead of the core group meeting. Chris, dad, has not been able to make it as he is feeling too anxious about the meeting. The meeting goes quite quickly, acknowledging a drastic improvement in school attendance and in Damien Harris’s, 10 years old, behaviour in the classroom and playground. Although there are a few points to work on, it is expected that the children will be removed from the child protection register at the next child protection case conference. I walk down the road after the meeting with Sarah and meet up with Chris. Sarah and Chris have had to make significant changes within the home and in receiving support for their own alcohol use. Chris feels “meetings are always about him”, and finds it difficult to engage in professional format. We discuss times in the past when he’s been able to engage with professionals and the positive outcomes we are now seeing in Damien’s life as a result.
After lunch I have a chance to catch up on some paperwork before attending a practitioners group hosted by the Scottish Government. This is an excellent opportunity to have some input into resources being developed for the families that we work with.
After the children have been dropped off at school, some of the parents come round to help get the garden ready for the next growing season. The garden can act as an open resource for families to grow food from seed with the children, as well as for staff members to work with individuals in family groups.
We wash our hands well and have lunch together. I then go down the road to meet Deirdre at her flat. Deirdre is struggling with her own mental health and maintaining the house. This is particularly difficult as she is in the sole care of her children. I help tidy up the kitchen as we talk about the meetings we have next week with a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), and we arrange to meet up with the children following school one day next week. Deirdre thinks it’s a good idea to plant some seeds as it will give the children something to do together and encourage them to share.