My Social Work Story Series: Managers Need to be Good Drivers

Being a social work manager is similar to being a responsible driver.That may seem like an unusual analogy, but realistically, the principles are the same. You need to understand the rules of the road, you have to have a great awareness of the law, experience improves your confidence and decision making… Your driving evolves the more you drive, simple as that. As you become more experienced you know when to use the fast roads and when to explore the countryside. You will experience speed bumps, road closure barriers and having to go the long way round. Road works will appear in your way and you will have no control over speed limits. You need to complete regular servicing and maintenance and you will be tested to ensure you are still road worthy.

Sound familiar yet?

Your journey as a social worker will take many forms, but life as a manager is always going to be riddled with pot-holes, speedbumps, route changes and complications. No matter how positive the experience is, I’ve never encountered an entire smooth ride that goes exactly as planned. Maybe that’s just my experiences, but it’s always felt like a car journey: clear objective with the possibility of changes at every stage.

So why, why do we do it?

We want to support others in their journey, to achieve their destination. We want to help people grow, to develop their knowledge and understanding and to Improve their confidence.  We want to be part of a great resource, where people get linked up with others, where challenges can be seen from a different direction and regardless of the chaos, spinning roundabouts, the traffic lights and road works destinations are reached. We want to use our practice knowledge to support your journey and help you navigate the roads ahead.

We will experience delays, breakdowns in communication, chaos due to critical situations and times when no route is a good one. But with the back-up of effective managers staff should never feel alone, they should never feel they have no-one to turn and in the event they do they should know who to contact. As a responsible driver, you need to be able to handle any last-minute changes or twists and turns. Life as a social work manager is no different – you need to be the calm in the storm, able to support your team through any complications.

]There are emergency services for social workers, support groups and forums should you ever feel truly alone or isolated. But whilst it’s good to have this back-up and reassurance for a time of crisis, ideally, managers would want to provide you the emotional reassurance and stability you need, in a timely manner to keep you happily on your journey.

Contributed by Nigella, a Social Work Manager

While you’re here…

No matter what your social work journey has been, we’re here for you. One Stop Social are a community of practitioners who work together to develop the future of social work, and your voice matters to us in this mission. We want to champion the causes that matter to you, celebrate your successes and have a positive impact on your working life however we can.

My Social Work Story Series: I thought I Couldn’t Be A Social Worker Anymore

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Being a carer changed my life.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555065256179{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]When I graduated in 2012 from University of Birmingham, I was dead set on working in children’s services. My first job post university was as a family support/learning mentor in a primary school in Sandwell. I enjoyed the role, it was fast paced and varied and I loved working in an educational setting. I got really involved in helping the Pastoral lead with safeguarding concerns and associated meetings.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I applied for an unqualified role as being in two non-statutory placements at university knocked my confidence a little in applying for a local authority post. I worried I wasn’t able to take on a LA role.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]I left my job as learning mentor in October 2012, as the maternity cover contract wasn’t extended so I chose to move to Staffordshire and began a life there with my husband. However, I struggled to find a similar post. I applied for about 9 jobs before giving up and going into care work. I became pregnant with my son and had to give up work for a time. Nevertheless, after having my son in April 2014, I found that I didn’t really enjoy being a ‘stay at home mum’. I suffered with post-natal depression and was desperate to get into a qualified post. As I began to recover (with my GPs help) I was suddenly hit with a massive blow to my heart and mind – my husband at only 29 years was diagnosed with bowel cancer.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”26px”][vc_single_image image=”4808″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”My life became incredibly difficult.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555065187344{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]My husband’s condition worsened over the next 18 months and I struggled with being a new parent and felt torn between the boundaries of wife and carer. In November 2014 I began working for a private advocacy organisation – Health advocacy UK , my friend’s mum and now my best friend and mentor, Lyn, had set this company up and was looking for a social worker to complete the team. I began to review and challenge CHC decisions and found the work a good distraction from being a carer to my husband, however I struggled to balance caring responsibilities and my work often fell behind. I felt torn between my career and my personal life. Lyn was extremely supportive of my circumstances and never pressured me to increase my work load, never forced me to choose.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4809″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In November 2015 my husband sadly passed away. The cancer had spread quickly from his bowel to his liver to his spine and his recent radiotherapy treatment had not worked. After his death I tried to push my trauma into the background and as a result had a bit of an anxious breakdown early the following year. I re-applied for other social work jobs but just wasn’t able to take on the responsibility with my brain still so focused on grieving and the pain I was feeling. I felt like all my empathy had been drained away and I was no longer able to help and care for others.
I took a break from Social work for a few months to get myself back on track and give myself time to heal. I was convinced I needed a complete career change and that I’d never be myself again.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Rediscovering my strength” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555065293949{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Lyn really believed in me and slowly helped me get back into social work by supporting me with mental capacity assessments and over time and with 6 months of counselling I began to feel less anxious and began to challenge my thoughts. I realised that I could help others again, I just needed to deal with my own trauma, it wasn’t my fault what had happened and I was different but that was okay.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A year later I can now walk into an assessment without stuttering and without telling myself that I cannot do my job. I can relate to a lot of the families of service users that I work with who care for their relative. I understand the strain and the emotional challenges that they face. I have also recently been working with young people with eating disorders and although I can’t pretend I know what they are going through, what I can say is that you can go through a rough time and yes it will be hard but you are more than what you are going through and your strength can get you to where you want to be. That aspect of things I can understand completely, and it has definitely changed my practice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4810″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’ve taught myself that this anxiety, this voice that rears its ugly head at times is only a voice trying to challenge me and that I do not have to listen to it, I ask it- what evidence do you have to say that I can’t do my job? Absolutely none.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I have found strength in my experiences, learning to turn negatives into positives in that I can relate to service users more and I have learnt to believe in myself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I am just about to embark on my first LA post in a learning disabilities team and I am beyond excited. I finally feel that my struggles have paid off and I am excited to see what the future holds.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Thank you for reading my story and I hope it inspires you to know that despite your struggles you can really do what you want to do if you want to do it.


Contributed by Steph Jarvis. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1555062481026{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;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_1555066686196{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

If you’re working with someone who is dealing with grief, it’s important to be aware of the different resources available to develop your practice in relation to mental health issues. One Stop Social host a range of helpful tools, including the following: 

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_btn title=”Modern Mental Health: Critical Perspectives on Psychiatric Practice” 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=”Managing Depression: A Facilitator’s Guide” 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=”Self Neglect Practice Guidance | Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board” 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]