Frontline participant, Jess

Jess

Frontline programme participant, London

Before joining the Frontline programme, I was working as a teaching assistant in a secondary school. I always thought that I would become a teacher, but as time went by I realised that teaching wasn’t pastoral enough for me. I knew that I wanted to work with children, just not in that capacity. Some of the children I worked at the time had a lot of safeguarding issues at home and I knew social workers were involved. I started looking into safeguarding and social work, and the kind of roles you could do in these areas; that’s how I came across Frontline.

I would say that social work is a challenging career because you come into a family’s life at a point where they require support and that isn’t always met positively. It’s about helping them to understand that you’re there to learn from them and how to support them; although you’re there to help get them through a challenging time, they know themselves better than most. It’s about empowering families and letting them know that change is possible, you’re just there to guide them through the change.

It’s about empowering families and letting them know that change is possible, you’re just there to guide them through the change.

My first case involved working with a family where physical chastisement was used as a form of disciplining the children. Through speaking to the parents, I discovered that neither of them had been raised by their own parents and the dad had come to the UK when he was very young. For them, physical discipline was culturally acceptable. To try to understand that and challenge their perceptions, as well as my own, was difficult. It was difficult to get the parents to understand the psychological and emotional effects physical discipline has on a child and to explore the difference between fear and respect. I tried to show them that there are other ways to discipline your child and get the same outcome. They began to use different tactics which, at first, they said didn’t work but over time they changed their opinion. It was so great to empower them to see things differently and change as parents to the point where we could close the case.

Being a social worker has given me the chance to make a real difference, and work with children in the capacity I always wanted to. It can be hard being on the ‘frontline’, but it’s so worth it.

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