A day in the life of...
We have a team of twelve dedicated workers supporting children and families throughout Essex and East London. We would not be able to provide this service without the help of our friends and supporters – THANK YOU.
A day in the life of ............
After dropping my daughter off at nursery and navigating the dreaded M25, I approach the entrance to the school and spot a small boy I have been working with. He is jumping up and down and he appears very excited and starts to wave. I have been working with this little boy for five weeks. His home life is chaotic and he is currently witnessing the breakdown of his parent's volatile relationship. He is an extremely quiet, shy boy with low self-esteem. Within our sessions he comes to life as I actively listen to his perception of his world.
I walk into the school reception area and am greeted by the Home School Support and Learning Mentor. We have a meeting regarding a few of the children I am working with and she supplies me with relevant information since my last visit to the school.
For the first half of my morning, I spend approximately 45 minutes with each child. I am armed with many resources which include feeling cards and numerous stickers. I am amazed at how the simplest of tools can break down the most difficult barriers. Many of the children are initially not able to open up and discuss the negative and abusive experiences they have been subjected too. The resources are a powerful tool to help me communicate with children in an indirect way. It is imperative that all the children we work with trust their social worker and feel safe in their company. A trusting relationship enables children to discuss their inner thoughts. A game of snakes and ladders can really go a long way!
Morning Break: The Headteacher and I have a conversation about a child she is concerned about. We talk about the preventative work that could be offered and she decides to invite the child's parents to a meeting at the school. The parents are encouraged to work in partnership with the school and agree to their daughter meeting with a social worker.
I spend some time with a girl whose mother has mental health needs and is struggling to accept the breakdown of her marriage. This little girl is exhibiting anxious behaviour at home and her mother feels unable to meet her emotional needs. Our session entails the girl decorating a box and taking ownership of it. She finds it too painful to talk about the divorce and writing down her thoughts and placing them in the box serves to be a successful therapeutic exercise.
At lunch I spend time in the staff room speaking to teachers. I find this a valuable opportunity to keep abreast of school life and a good forum for information sharing.
I meet with a teenage girl with who I have been working. On this occasion I have invited her parents into the school for a family meeting. The concerns are that this young person and her siblings have witnessed prolonged parental domestic violence and alcohol misuse. Additional information is shared which confirms that the children, in my opinion, are suffering significant harm. I liaise with the SENCO and Lead Child Protection Professional. I speak to the parents and the young person involved and notify them that a referral will be made to Social Services. The family are in agreement and welcome the additional professional support. When I initially made the referral, I feared the parents may have some reservations with working with yet another agency. I made the professional judgement and feel it was justified.
After spending time writing up case notes I receive a call from a parent who wishes to cancel the home visit. This single mother is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her two sons’ challenging behaviour. We talk about the behaviour and strategies that she could implement to appease the situation. I encourage her to think about attending a parenting class at her local children's centre. Fingers crossed that this mother does try to attend and actually wants to make the necessary changes to meet the needs of her children.
As I drive away from the school I reflect on my day. I know my limitations as a practitioner but I hope I have given at least one child a voice in a world they may feel they are not heard.