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‘My mum wrote Hackney Child – now I want to be a social worker’

Lauren Humble’s path into social work education has been anything but typical. But then very few 21 year olds have a mother with such an inspirational story to tell.

Last year we told the story of Jenny Molloy – the best-selling author who, aged 9, had walked into a police station and asked to be taken out of her family home and into care. Today Jenny’s daughter explains how reading her mum’s memoir ‘Hackney Child’ inspired her to change career path and begin her social work journey.

Why I decided to train as a social worker
My mum is the one who inspired me to train as a social worker. I didn’t ever think about wanting to be a social worker until my mum’s book came out. I was qualifying as a beauty therapist at the time. But the more I learnt, the more I thought “I wanna do it so I’m gonna do it!”

I knew my mum was writing a book but I didn’t know anything about what was going to be in it. I was 17 at the time. But then I read part of the book on her laptop. I only read a small section and I didn’t know the full story until the book came out. I didn’t know anything about her parents. I asked questions about what I’d read and she went mad at me! But now she thinks it’s funny!

When I read the whole book I found it hard to believe. Looking at my mum I wouldn’t have believed she went through all of that. At first, I was really upset. But now I just look at it and think ‘wow, she’s done so amazing! I’m so proud of her!’ It’s incredible that someone who has gone through so much in her childhood has done so well.  Some of my friends are support workers and they often say how amazing my mum is and how she’s inspired them.”

Making a real difference
After I read the book it made me realise how much social workers changed my mum’s life for the better. It made me want to be one of those people. She’s still in touch with some of them now.

In 2013 my mum took me to a ‘Celebrating Residential Care Day’ in Huddersfield. At the conference I heard from all kinds of social workers and from barristers who work with children. From then on I was sure I wanted to become a social worker. I knew I really wanted to make a difference and empower people.

Why I love my social work course
I completed my beauty qualification and started social work last summer. I’m completing an Access to Social Work course at Lewis College so that I can go and do a three year course at university, hopefully at Brighton. The course is designed to prepare us for university and essay skills with set social work modules to introduce us to the profession. I love this course – I really enjoy going there and learning everything. With my previous course some bits were ok but I wasn’t interested in a lot of the course. 

I’ve always wanted to know about the psychology side of social work. I never actually wanted to do child protection before I started the course – I only wanted to work in substance misuse – but we’ve had a few speakers deliver talks, including a child protection social worker who made it look really interesting. It’s probably the most challenging part of social work. I initially though it would be too emotional – but now I think I’d be able to do it.

Placement learning
I’m looking forward to both the academic learning and the placements I’ll be doing – probably more so the placement so I can understand what social work is really like. This year I’ll be doing a placement with UK Fostering. It’s a shadowing placement so I’m hoping to go out to the family visits and local authority meetings as well. It’s only meant to be for a week but you can carry it on if you want to. It’s a chance to write an essay based on your experiences. I’m also hoping to do a voluntary placement at a woman’s rehab later in the year. I’m really looking forward to my placements – and I can’t wait to one day become a social worker.

Interview and words by Joe Jervis