Prior to taking up my current role as a Frontline consultant social worker I had worked in another authority as a consultant social worker in a social work unit for nearly four years. I had seen firsthand the value of working in a unit, how it encourages you to reflect, challenge and consider families’ circumstances from multiple perspectives. When I saw the post at Frontline, I knew it would be an exciting opportunity to do something different but continue working in a way which I am really passionate about.
I would definitely say the role has encouraged me to slow down. Frontline programme participants want to understand your thought process when making decisions and this has encouraged me to be clearer, as well as more focussed and considered.
One of the most challenging aspects of the role is the importance of keeping a cool head at all times. Working in such close proximity to each other means that becoming visibly over-anxious can affect everyone in the unit.
The role has given me the opportunity to go back to basics, slowing things down and giving me the opportunity to spend time with the participants thinking about how we can best support children and families. Seeing the participants’ journeys across the year has been such a pleasure, their growing confidence and autonomy and observing the excellent direct work they are undertaking makes the challenges worth it.
Unit meetings are a great way of seeing the progress participants are making. It also allows you to explore the journey of the children and families that we support. When I consider how the participants contributed to these meetings at the start of the year compared to now, it is amazing to see the progress they have made.
The unit is also supported by a practice tutor from Frontline. They visit regularly and attend many of the unit meetings too, although the frequency reduces as the year progresses. As well as supporting the participants with the academic side of the course they are always on hand for the consultant social worker for advice and guidance when you need it.
It’s a great role that’s varied and different. You have the chance to remain in practice whilst supporting and developing participants throughout their journey. The unit model really gives you the chance to think about your cases and plan well thought-out interventions.