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I had only just graduated when I began the Frontline programme, having recently finished my degree in Criminology and Psychology at John Moores University. My studies triggered my interest in working with vulnerable individuals, which led me to volunteer for the Youth Offending Service as a mentor, which I did for three years before starting Frontline. This involved taking children on days out; giving them someone to talk to, and enabling them to participate in new hobbies which they may have not considered before. In addition to this, I worked as a support worker for adults with severe learning disabilities, helping them to live their life in a way that is as independent and fulfilling as possible.
My interest in social work began when volunteering in these mentoring and support worker positions. This is because, in both instances, I felt limited in the things I could do in my role to provide help to vulnerable individuals. However, interacting with social workers working at the Youth Offending Service gave me an insight into the impact I could have in that role. I felt that as a social worker, I could provide the help and support that vulnerable individuals truly deserve.
Some of the stories and opinions people had did make me think twice about my career choice; that is until I found Frontline. A graduate scheme that wanted to change the technique of children’s social workers, using a person-centred approach to place children and families at the heart of everything they do – it felt like the perfect fit.
The Summer Institute is intense to say the least but after the first week I began to quickly adapt. There is so much information to take in but it is possible, and if you are ever unsure about anything the Frontline team are always on hand to help. Plus, getting to know other Frontline participants was really great, which was nice when spending so much time away from home.
I think I speak for the majority of the cohort when I say that the best lessons are learnt from the experts by experience. They are great individuals that have shown amazing levels of resilience, and their stories will stay with me forever as I try and be the best social worker I can possibly be. However, if there is one piece of advice I would give to those just starting the programme it is this: don’t get too bogged down in all the work, take time out just to relax and socialise. Also, I guarantee that you will leave a changed person for the greater good, just as I have done.
Having just completed the Summer Institute, my next step on the Frontline programme is working with my team in Wirral Borough Council. There were so many topics which were covered at the Summer Institute, and my team are a lot closer now than we were at the beginning. We all have different opinions to one another but we all know the importance of being able to see things from different perspectives. That is why I am confident we will be effective in working collaboratively.
At the beginning of the Summer Institute I felt quite worried about knocking on that first door, but I feel so well prepared now that I’m actually really looking forward to it.