Seven reasons to become a social worker

If you want an in-demand career that lets you make a real difference in the world, there’s never been a better time to become a social worker. If you need a little persuasion, here are seven reasons why you should join.

It will challenge you in ways few other careers will

Social work challenges much more than just your typical professional skills. Social work is practically challenging. No two cases are the same, which means social workers must constantly solve problems and apply their studies and experience in creative ways. Social workers also have a direct influence on someone else’s life, which can be extremely rewarding, but also emotionally difficult, which is why social work requires a unique combination of intelligence and emotional strength.

You get to change someone’s life for the better

You may not get a thank you or card every day, or even every year, but when you do occasionally get someone thanking you for helping them to overcome the challenges in their life, you will not be able to stop smiling. To know that you helped another person in some small (or sometimes big) way is quite rewarding and one that you will cherish throughout your career.

You will learn new things about yourself

The situations social work put you in are unique and often extreme. You will learn how to cope when someone feels unwell or has emotional and well-being issues; you will learn how do deal with aggressive or challenging behaviour. You will learn your different strengths and weaknesses as you constantly reflect on your practice.

Being a social worker is really diverse

Whilst training to be a social worker, you will be trained in all aspects of the profession, from child protection to mental health. While you can choose to specialise in one area once you qualify, you will have the opportunity to move around different areas.

It is not just a desk job!

At any point during the day, you may get a phone call that requires you to drop everything and go to the scene of a crisis. You have to attend people’s homes, hospitals, schools, and community centres. Being an effective social worker means engaging with the community and this cannot be done from behind a desk. In fact, when you do eventually get to sit down at your desk, you enjoy the short break.

Your job will never be boring

In social work, each day is completely different than the next. While you may try and plan meticulously, you can guarantee that there will be several unexpected challenges for you to deal with each week. Social work constantly keeps you on your toes, allowing room for new challenges each day.

Opportunities to make a difference

Social work is undeniably stressful, because you witness many challenges firsthand. You might have to help families living in poverty, parents with drug problems or young people who are turning to crime. You might also witness mistreatment of senior citizens or meet victims of sexual violence. Social work careers are not for the faint of heart, but they are for those who want to make a difference. Few careers offer you the opportunity to be an advocate and a positive force for change the way that choosing to become a social worker can.

Deciding on whether or not a career in social work is for you takes a lot of thoughtful consideration. If, however, a passion for social justice and an interest in both your community and job security appeal to you, then social work may be exactly the career you’ve been looking for.

Child Protection: Moving Forward in Modern Social Work

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One Stop Social is unashamedly passionate about social work, and therefore, we’re driven by an enthusiasm to show the rest of the world just how brilliant social work is. While we don’t look at the sector through rose tinted glasses, we know there are some fantastic examples of good practice and innovation across the country. Nevertheless, areas of social work like child protection make the headlines on a regular basis for less than positive reasons.

The press is filled with child abuse scandals, stories about neglected young people or examples of councils stretched too thin; but are these just the cases which catch the media’s eye? Sensationalised stories sell papers, so is it just that the countless admirable practitioners and examples of good practice are ignored in favour of the few cases that will make a catchy headline. On the other hand, do a limited number of cases imply that the whole system is in need of change? Are the issues with the current child protection really so serious that we should consider reform?

When you look at the key factors which can cause issues with child protection teams, there isn’t a need for revolution or a complete overhaul of the system. The foundations are not broken; however, they’re not being given the trust and support they need to thrive. We’d like to take a chance to examine some of these elements and make the case against reform, and in favour of implementing the correct structures to support social work in the UK.

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Fragmented approach

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Child protection is about ensuring the safety of at risk and vulnerable children across the UK. Each of the UK’s 4 nations have their own child protection system, as a result they utilise different techniques and laws to help protect children from abuse and neglect. But is this separation of powers and styles contributing to a fragmented system? We see on a regular basis how gangs utilise county lines to exploit young people, partly facilitated by a lack of communication and collaboration between different local authorities; so, is the same happening across nations? The UK is built on the idea of partnership between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; but if we’re not upholding this ethos across child protection services, then it could be easy for children to be missed.

In order to allow child protection to truly succeed, it’s essential that we recognise that we need to work together. Political differences, historical grudges or individuality should have no place in child protection. It’s about looking after a child deemed to be at risk or in need. So perhaps we need to train each other in the different approaches and systems, so that there is a universal understanding of how to safeguard those who are vulnerable. There should also be a policy of openness with regards to sharing information about vulnerable service users who could benefit from the support from teams in different regions and nations. Let’s trust in each other more and recognise the strength in working as 1 overall team for child protection.

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Financial troubles

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While many areas of social work don’t require super-high-tech systems or the latest gadgets which put a strain on budgets, councils do need sufficient money to maintain social care avenues and to fund enough practitioners to effectively cover an area. However, councils across the UK are regularly commenting on the issues they face due to the lack of funding. The government has been recently criticised for having an “appalling” level of ignorance about the pressure child protection teams find themselves under – a large part of which is due to council budgets being cut 30% since 2010. Even when funding is announced, as it was in the latest Budget, there’s immense scepticism that the promise will be followed through, which impacts a council’s confidence to invest. So, we need to ensure that councils have the resources they need to succeed; and if the central government can’t guarantee it, a stable alternative should be developed. We’re seeing a rise of teaching partnerships across the country, like the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy, so is the future of social work pooling resources together? Yes, a more collaborative approach would definitely promote better outcomes for those deemed in need and we are seeing greater emphasis on supporting practitioner development.

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Increasing Demand

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Research over the past few years have shown us that the demand for child protection services is on the rise exponentially. Technology has made it easier for predators to exploit children from behind a screen. High rates of drug and alcohol abuse makes families more volatile, leaving more children needing to be taken into care. Insufficient support for those with mental health issues and the lack of protection for domestic abuse victims leaves thousands of children in need of safeguarding. However, what doesn’t make the headlines as regularly, is that the number of social workers is also on the rise too. With the correct funding to councils, training opportunities and practitioner support, we can band together to meet every challenge. One Stop Social are keen to aid councils where we can, which is why we’re developing high-quality, cost-effective training workshops which can be implemented nationally.

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Recruitment & Retention Issues

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Across almost every council in the UK there is an issue with recruitment and retention – leaving front-line services with insufficient practitioners for their caseloads. Social workers can pick and choose where they work due to the vast demand; making it harder for councils to retain staff. This regular turnover affects dynamics and gives inconsistency to child protection teams. Councils need to recognise that by making it more desirable to stay in a role, social workers can develop their skills more effectively and overall protect more vulnerable children. Leadership training and clear progression routes are important, but a key element is building a sense of enjoyment by being in a particular role. We offer corporate licences of our OSS Membership to help councils develop retention packages, and demonstrate that they’re willing to reward their teams as both practitioners and people. Employee engagement drives enthusiasm for a role and efficiency: the key to success is making professionals happier.

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It’s not a “crisis”

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Given that there are so many facets of child protection that need work, it can feel like we’re on the edge of the cliff, about to fall into chaos. And until we can be secure in the knowledge that every child is in a safe, healthy environment, we’ll always need to look for changes and improvements.  However, on a national scale, the core foundation of child protection in the UK is sound. It’s on a local level that we need to build on it. Child protection should not be a postcode lottery system. We need to ensure councils everywhere can give practitioners the correct reimbursement, employment structures and rewards packages. By working on a local level, we can give child protection as a whole the room it needs to thrive.


The Role of County Lines in Child Criminal Exploitation

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Child protection can take many forms, as there are so many variations of situations which can make a child or young person vulnerable. It’s important to be aware of the different ways in which a child is vulnerable to exploitation in order to understand the help they are in need of. One such issue is the case of how county lines are used by predators (typically in gangs) to exploit children. The Home Office describes county lines as “a major, cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons”; recognising that it takes a combined effort from many front-line services to combat exploiters. Children, young people and even at times vulnerable adults are at risk of being manipulated into moving and storing drugs and money across county lines. This is becoming synonymous with the general term child criminal exploitation due to the frequency of its occurrence and the severity of the impact it has on people’s lives.

Child victims can come from a whole range of backgrounds

The criminal networks who prey upon children and young people in this way, deliberately target those who are naturally more vulnerable – whether due to homelessness, substance abuse or poverty for example – however every child is at risk. As the 2018 addendum to the 2016 report “Time to listen – a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children” noted, it needs to be recognised that child victims can come from a whole range of backgrounds. There’s a rising number of exploitation cases involving victims from much wealthier backgrounds, with private school students being targeted thanks to their external appearance of innocence.

Gangs are finding ways to manipulate the system

One of the elements why county lines is such a dominant issue nowadays is due to how easily gangs are finding ways to manipulate the system. Criminals get victims to cross county borders so that it’s harder to keep track of the drug channels or exploitation taking place. This therefore makes the job of an individual social worker trying to protect a child or young person much harder, while simultaneously strengthening the network of the gang. Research is highlighting how important it is for local authorities to establish more open channels of communication between front-line practitioners in order to share knowledge and expertise. While 1 social worker may not be able to take down an entire gang network on their own, the power of collaboration means that as a collective, it’s possible.

We need to be coming up with creative ideas

It’s also being noticed that local authorities, the police, partner agencies in health, education and more aren’t overtly seeking innovative ways to engage with children and young people at risk of being exploited through county lines. This means that the manners in which safeguarding professionals are trying to protect potential victims run the risk of becoming antiquated and out of date. In order to stay ahead of those who prey on vulnerable children and young people, and use our country’s geography to exploit them; we need to be coming up with creative ideas and be willing to think outside of the box.

All schools needs to understand the risks

If the different services involved in safeguarding children and protecting them from criminal exploitation were to have more in depth training about how county lines are abused, and the signs of a child being exploited; it’s more likely that they’ll be able to help more victims. Another key factor to consider, is that the signs and consequences of child exploitation should be more openly discussed with schools and colleges. If the profile of a victim doesn’t fit one particular demographic, then all schools needs to understand the risks posed to the children under their care.

After all, if the criminals are prepared to use county lines to their advantage, then professionals need to do the same.


Want to find out more about County Lines?

One Stop Social run training courses about Child Criminal Exploitation, County Lines & Gangs aimed at anyone working with children and/or young people. It’s a highly recommended, practical course which can be delivered across the UK – providing insight into the key areas of how county lines exploitation can affect vulnerable children/young people.




Useful Child Criminal Exploitation Resources

Are you working with children or young people who have experienced exploitation or are at risk? We have some helpful resources to aid your practice on our website, including the following:





School Bullies: An Ever-Present and Pressing Issue

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We’ve all heard that the time you spend as a student, as the best years of your life. I personally would like to track down whoever came up with that notion and give them a stern talking to. Who thought that the years you spend at school are the best of your life? How is that even likely? You have no clue who you really are for the most part, you’re studying a range of subjects (most of which you will dislike) and you’re pitted against your classmates regularly in a test of who can quote a textbook better. I can’t imagine there was anyone who actually enjoyed assemblies, and I know I’ll never look back fondly on my old school lunches. And this is before we’ve even broached the subject of schoolyard bullies.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely hating on the idea of schools, the impact of education on our lives or how precious the years we spend there are. I loved learning, there are teachers who completely shaped me as an individual and those years were a time of no responsibility and vast freedom. Pretty idyllic when you look back as an adult. That being said, school can also be an absolute minefield for children working to develop their self-esteem and I don’t think we recognise this enough. Research shows that bullying is still an incredibly large part of school and childhood for communities across the UK, and most of us will be able to identify at least 1 instance involving bullies from our past.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”What Actually is Bullying?” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1557499649323{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I think we all understand the core concept of bullying – one person acts in a negative way verbally or physically to another. Whether that’s calling a girl in your class mean names, beating up the nerdy kid at break or taunting a kid with psychological games. Bullies have a vast range of tools at their disposal, and as there’s no “legal” description, someone can feel victimised due to a variety of actions and it’s still “bullying”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Whether they target someone because of their race, religion, intelligence, financial background, physical appearance or any other reason; bullies can mistreat someone through any of the following forms:

  • physical assault
  • teasing
  • making threats
  • name calling
  • cyber bullying

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Schools should tackle bullying at the earliest opportunity and not allow it to escalate to a point where a pupil suffers emotional or physical distress.“” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1557502552026{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Victims of bullying can be made to feel very isolated and unhappy, which given the current state of mental health in children and young people, should make bullying more of a concern than it is.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”You might also like:” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1557502434899{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Mental Health in Young People” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” size=”sm” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy from Uneven Stress Levels” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” size=”sm” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”How a Postcode Lottery is Gambling with Children’s Lives” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” size=”sm” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”5076″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Seeing as bullies can act in so many different ways, it can sometimes be tough to determine whether a child is a victim. There are some key signs to look out for though:

  • people calling someone names
  • making things up to get someone into trouble
  • hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
  • taking things away from someone
  • damaging someone else’s belongings
  • stealing someone’s money
  • taking a person’s friends away from them
  • posting insulting messages or rumours, in person on the internet or by IM (cyberbullying)
  • threats and intimidation
  • making silent or abusive phone calls
  • sending someone offensive phone texts
  • bullies can also frighten a child so that they don’t want to go to school, so they pretend to be ill to avoid the bully

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Bullies or Victims? ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1557502494646{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Social workers know all too well the trauma and complications that children can face during defining parts of their lives. These difficult situations can make them act out, because of a lack of guidance or support when they try to process their feelings. If a vulnerable child does not have the correct mechanisms in place to deal with their emotions and understand the value of a healthy outlet, then there is a risk they will turn to bullying another child. By transferring a level of distress or pain to someone else, it can seem like a temporary relief or solution to the emotional isolation they feel. Therefore, we need to make sure that when we work to tackle the bullying issue across the UK, bullies are not constantly villainised. After all, we never know what’s going on with someone until we start a conversation with them. Bullies may be experiencing just as much pain as they are causing, but are trapped in a cycle of bad actions. Practitioners should have the ability to educate schools and parents more about why bullies may act the way they do, and work together to find healthy solutions for all. Sometimes, just giving a bully detention or expelling them will just worsen the situation and put a child down an even worse path. So, let’s start getting a bit more creative with how we work to help the victims of bullies, and ensure that every child across the country has a safe childhood. When we all look back on school life, we should only be ‘traumatised’ by terrible school lunches or maths homework that seemed impossible. School years don’t have to be the best of your life, in fact, they rarely will be. But this should never be because of a bully breaking down your mental health at such a vulnerable age.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“If teachers speak​ to children respectfully and consider their views, pupils ​​are likely to do the same with peers.“” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1557502562244{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Elena Jones, One Stop Social Team.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1557501738841{background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557502083015{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social has a range of resources on our website to help vulnerable children and young people, who may be experiencing bullying or targeting fellow students as a coping mechanism. Therefore, if you’re working with a service user who is experiencing feelings like this, why not turn to our Resources Page for some helpful tools and guides to support your practice. 

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Mighty Moe: An Anxiety Workbook for Children” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Positive Affirmation Cards for children | Direct Resource” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Emotions, Feelings and Behaviour Toolkit | Direct Resource” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What Children Really See: An Insight into Domestic Abuse

In the last year alone, an estimated 2 million people aged 16-59 experienced domestic abuse.

Government figures suggest that 250,000 children are living with domestic violence in the home. Currently they are not seen as victims under the law.

So, what are the effects on children of seeing a parent
being abused?

For the first two years of my life, my mother was in an
abusive relationship with my father. Now, you may think that I wouldn’t
remember anything from this time period, and you would be right. At this moment
in time, I have no recollection of anything that happened in that time period
other than the things that my mother has told me since and even then, they are
not my own memories. Thankfully, I can’t call upon a memory of my own
witnessing the abuse. But one memory that I have very clear in my head is
telling my Year 1 teacher (so I was 5 or 6) that I saw my ‘daddy hit mummy’. I
had not seen my father since my second birthday, so, what had made me go and
tell my teacher four years later? To this day, I have no idea what drove me to
act that day. Why then? Why speak to my teacher of all possible people? Due to
my age at the time, these are still unanswered questions. But it inspired me to
understand more about what children and young people actually experience when
they’re in an abusive household.

According to a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004), children are individuals and thus behave and react differently to witnessing domestic abuse. Some effects include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Nightmares or Flashbacks
  • Easily Startled
  • Tummy Aches
  • Wetting the Bed
  • Tantrums and Problems at School
  • Behaving Younger than they are
  • Becoming Aggressive
  • Withdrawing from Others
  • Lowered Sense of Self Worth
  • Older Children may Truant, Use Drugs and/or
    Alcohol, Self-Harm, or even develop an Eating Disorder.

These are side effects which practitioners working with
children and young people will understand; and a large part of a social workers
job in this situation is being able to facilitate change for children who are
experiencing some or all of these effects. Nevertheless, it is still relatively
unknown or researched as to how witnessing violence in the home affects
children in the long term. Unless a practitioner is dealing with a particular
service user for many years, it can be unclear about how domestic abuse shapes
the individual later in life. They may rely on support from different social
workers, and use various services; giving a disjointed feel to their journey.

Thankfully, we’re starting to see more studies about how stress and trauma in general can affect children’s brain development. The notion that very young children are less likely to be affected by witnessing domestic abuse is proving to be wrong. The evidence is coming to light that there are still effects which alter their development and provide them with challenges as they grow and mature. One-year olds are more disturbed by adults arguing when they have witnessed violence. Under three year-olds are at an increased risk for psychological problems, and children that are exposed to high levels of domestic violence are on average 8 points lower in I.Q. than other children at age 5. I believe this isn’t enough though: we need to know more.

I may not have my own memories of the abuse my mother experienced. I can’t point to an instance and say “this happened”. But I know that being in this environment, even at such a young age, shaped me as an individual. And I am just one of millions of people in the UK who are in similar situations. It’s incredibly important for us to research more into the consequences felt later in life by young children who witness violence; as only then can we understand what support is needed. While it’s essential we help vulnerable children in the immediate moments during and after instances of domestic abuse, we can’t forget that children grow. The effects on children when they become young people and adults needs to be more widely taught so that as a society we can develop a more consistent long-term approach to supporting vulnerable children.

Contributed by Becca Dawrant, One Stop Social Team.

Useful Resources

If you’re working with children who are in an environment of domestic abuse, there are several resources on our website which can support your practice.

Advanced Child Protection with the University of Kent

MA, PG Certificate, Diploma, Standalone modules: part-time, distance learning

A child-centred approach on these programmes offers professionals working with children, multi-agency practitioners, the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and confidence plus a 360° perspective on the child protection system, integrating research, practice expertise and theory. We are proud to bring together inter-professional perspectives and focus on skills of direct work with both parents and children.

CPD accredited courses using award-winning simulations

The Centre’s award-winning CPD-accredited simulations are available for professionals to keep up to date with current child protection risks and can also be used directly with young people in the classroom, groups or one to one:
‘Maryam and Joe: Behind Closed Doors’addressing hate crime and extremism.
‘Looking out for Lottie’on child sexual exploitation
Zak’looking at signs of radicalisation
‘Rosie 2’ assessing parental capacity and neglect in complex families
‘myCourtroom: Rosie’s family go to court’ on court skills

Please note: Simulations are used in our MA, and packages/training are available to purchase separately.


To register your interest or find out more:

Contributed by The University of Kent

Want to find out more?

The University of Kent are one of our exhibitors at Work and Care Together in London on 24th January, so make sure to stop by and find out more about their courses then! They’ll be able to fully explain how their different CPD-accredited simulations could support your development, so don’t miss out! And don’t forget there are free drinks available at our afterparty – what more could you wish for!

Why We Need Superheroes

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Halloween has been and gone, we’ve had Bonfire Night and now we’re surrounded by poppies on everyone’s jackets for Remembrance Day. There’s a lot happening in the end of October and start of November; but it’s actually a great time to stop and celebrate the good guys. Halloween may be dominated by ghosts, goblins and ghouls but thanks to Marvel dominating the box offices, there’s a massive contingent of children globally who use the day as a reason to dress up as their favourite hero. After all, who doesn’t want to be Wonder Woman or Captain America? And obviously Remembrance Sunday is a day dedicated to the outstanding men and women who serve our country and who gave their lives to protect our freedom. Throughout this fortnight it’s an opportunity for us all to reflect on why we need superheroes for our children and young people to look up to.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Technically a superhero is usually defined as “a character in a film or story who has special strength and uses it to do good things and help other people”, but we’re looking at the more general approach to a superhero (“someone who has done something very brave to help someone else”). Whether it’s a character or an actual person, it’s so important for us to recognise the different types of superheroes who can inspire our young people and emotionally support them through difficult times.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]But why is it important that we recognise these symbols of goodness? What is the value in teaching future generations to pay homage to superheroes, both fictional and real?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The answer is actually quite simple. Hope. In the modern world, it’s easier than ever to become cynical about what life has to offer. Technology brings bad news into our homes every second and allows predators of children and young people to hide behind anonymous screen names or IP addresses. It’s so simple to read yet another story about a disabled child who has been bullied or an exploited young person and feel like there is no good left in society. So, we need symbols of hope. We need to be able to point to someone – either at a military parade or in a comic book – and show our kids that bad situations and people are not everywhere. There should be a large celebration of what is good across the news, to balance out against the tales of woe and strife.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It may seem quite trivial, to think that a character on a TV show, in a film or in a graphic novel can help children in disadvantaged situations; but escapism is a powerful thing. That’s why we hear stories of children’s wards in hospitals celebrating when superheroes come to visit. A child’s perspective on the world means that to them, Superman or Spiderman could be real. There could be these beacons of light for them to turn to during dark times. Being able to hold onto the idea of superhuman strength and courage that they could channel during treatment for an illness or when confronting a bully, is a brilliant way to motivate children to believe in what is good. If a child has hope, then they will understand that difficult situations are not the norm and can be overcome. Superheroes can help children inhabit a world where an everyday reporter like Clark Kent can achieve the impossible or you can have secret powers like Jean Grey to help you defeat the villains.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s not just the fictional superheroes that we should celebrate though, as some disadvantaged children and young people have lost their childhood wonder and need more tangible symbols of hope. If a young person is feeling trapped and hopeless because of abuse, poverty, illness or bullying; then everyday superheroes are just as valuable. These could be members of the army, navy or air force who may have experienced similar circumstances, or simply just represent a real victory of good over evil. Remembrance Day every year is a time when we donate for a token poppy on our lapel, but more than that, it allows us to remember that during the two World Wars, we made sure the side of good triumphed. It can show young people who are being manipulated and exploited that their predators do not have to win because evil does not win. Additionally, causes like the Invictus Games represent how life does not end because of an injury or disability. Real people can become superheroes in the way they inspire young people going through similar situations to strive for greatness and succeed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s not going to solve all the world’s problems, but inspiring hope is as good a place as any to start. Let’s celebrate the characters our children love and show them how the good guys win. Let’s campaign for more prominence to be give in the news to stories of real heroic people, to inspire people that difficult times will get better. Superheroes in films, books and tv aren’t real, this much is true. But why not encourage our children to aspire to be just like The Flash, Thor or Captain Marvel? These characters stand for truth and justice just like our actual military, which seem like pretty good morals to instil in a young person who may be doubting in the good of the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Halloween: A Time for Every Child


‘Tis time!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Goblins, ghouls and gremlins unite, All Hallow’s Eve is here at last! Whether you are forced into the most basic costume against your will (looking at you Google t-shirt people) or you spend weeks planning how you’ll go all out for this holiday (is it really a holiday?), Halloween is hard to avoid. Pumpkins have been in the shops since August and today you’ll see countless people in slightly odd outfits on your morning commute. It’s a day for frights, fancy dress and celebrating superheroes, skeletons and scientists alike.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Halloween began as a Celtic celebration of a time when the barrier between our world and the spiritual world became thin, allowing for spirits to cross over between realms. Halloween has a unanimous symbolism with death, spookiness and the supernatural, as the following day – 1st November – is celebrated in many cultures as a day for the dead: All Saint’s Day, Dia De los Muertos, Todos Los Santos, La Toussant…  Everywhere has some version of the concept of remembering the spirits of deceased family, friends and icons around this time of year. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we take a day to dress up as weird and wonderful creatures, though we do have America to blame for pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating and the pressure to decorate excessively. (We’ll add it to the list of reasons we’re considering putting the USA back under UK control. We all know they’ll be back…). But amongst all the merriment, lanterns and sweets, we should make sure that we’re thinking of everyone today. In particular, we should consider just how inclusive we’re being for children on Halloween.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Not every child has a simple childhood. Maybe a child comes from poverty and so can’t afford a fancy costume like their friends. Or perhaps they’re suffering from an illness like diabetes which means they can’t eat sweets when trick-or-treating. Children living with a physical disability have to adapt any fancy dress. Halloween nowadays is meant to be a fun day where children get to be silly, dress up like their favourite characters, have excessive treats and beg to watch the Haunting of Hill House. But do we all make it easy for every child to have that type of day?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There are some simple steps we can all take to help make every kid happy this Halloween. First off, let’s celebrate everyone’s costumes. Whether you’ve turned yourself into the Corpse Bride or you’ve transformed your wheelchair into a Batmobile, give every child who turns up at your door asking for treats the same level of praise. Also remind your children that not everyone may enjoy Halloween – some children who struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues find the day to be full of triggers and so may not want to embrace the spirit of Hallow’s Eve. That shouldn’t be a reason for a kid to be bullied by their school friends or left out. Make sure you educate children about how to be accepting around this time of year. Beyond this, have a mixture of sweets and healthier snacks ready for children who may not be able to eat countless Maoams. And we shouldn’t really have to point this out, but please please please be aware of people with mental health issues before you consider dressing up as anyone “psycho”, “crazy” or “mad”. Some outfits aren’t actually as funny as you think they are.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So, crack open the dragon’s blood (wine), find your familiar (pet) and throw on The Nightmare Before Christmas (arguably one of the best Halloween films ever) to get you in the mood. Because as soon as we stop celebrating Halloween, it’ll be Christmas. How’s that for a terrifying thought for the day…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”” el_width=”60″ align=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Social Workers in Schools

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]School. Seven (ish) hours we’re all trapped and forced to learn in the opinion of some. For others, school is a haven of knowledge, opportunity and most of all, safety. Not every child has the idyllic childhood from novels or films that we all hope to give our loved ones, and for those who do have more complicated upbringings, school can be a form of escape. In order to help those children, it’s important to recognise the role that social workers in schools have.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A school social worker has many different responsibilities, which are set out by the specific school or district, but a large part of any job for social workers in schools will be to assess the students. Social work training can help them identify any substance abuse, the physical and/or emotional functioning of the children and issues with peers that could be interfering with the well-being of a child; among other issues.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Students don’t just fit into one standard mould. They are not all alike with similar backgrounds, values, upbringings and home-lives. Those in the social work sector understand this. For example, “as a group, children in care do not perform as well in their education as their peers”, which means there is the risk that those who have a non-conventional family life are not getting their best chance at school, under the current system. This doesn’t just apply to children in care, as children from abusive households often do badly at school; and teenagers with divorced parents may find it difficult to concentrate in school. So, having a social worker present in the school environment allows for an extra set of eyes for children who may not be thriving due to their personal circumstances.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In an age of youth mental health issues taking over too many headlines, it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough to help our children and teens; so perhaps re-evaluating the structures in place to support school-age children is the way forward. School social workers have never really been a commonplace occurrence, but maybe considering the increasing pressures on children and young people in the modern era, they should be. Teachers are educators and so to add on the additional tasks of being aware and assessing the physical, emotional and psychological health of students as well as providing child protection services, is unrealistic. There is only so much one person can do in a 24-hour day, and so making social workers in schools a more regular situation could a mechanism that supports both the children, but also the current staff who are trying to safeguard their students. Bringing social workers into schools allows for a collaborative process when trying to improve the lives of students, which could yield better results.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Social workers are there to support individuals and their families who are going through difficult times and make sure that any and all vulnerable people, both children and adults, are safeguarded from harm. If that is at its core what the social worker role is, then surely placing children’s social workers in a setting where they can monitor and assess students is a good idea? Is it the right move to make every school in the UK require a social worker? There are endless if’s, maybe’s and how about’s when it comes to protecting children; but it seems a logical next step to utilise the skills a children’s social worker has in a place where a child is away from a difficult, unhealthy or even potentially traumatic situation at home. Social workers in schools can safeguard vulnerable children and ensure that they have as normal a school experience, and overall childhood as possible.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]