Name: Kate Aspray
Location: Gateshead 2016 Cohort
A unit is essentially a small, tight-knit team, with an experienced leader. As student social workers, we support each other and our consultant social worker (CSW) supports all of us in our learning, social work practice and general wellbeing. We have weekly unit meetings, where we discuss difficult cases. This allows us to share ideas about the problem, risks, protective factors, areas to explore and further actions that we can take.
Our weekly meetings have assisted my social work practice hugely. The unit has provided me with consistent, compassionate support during Year 1. Some of this support is practical such as making phone calls, and covering meetings for each other when necessary.
The most valuable support, however, has been having a team to come back to after something that might not have gone well. Because my unit are all aware of the families that I am working with and the work I am doing, I always feel I can talk to them about how things are going. Even outside of unit meetings, we share our worries and successes with each other. The fantastic conversations we have had with families, as well as the more challenging day to day dilemmas, are experienced by the whole team. We all contribute to each other’s cases and bring different ideas and perspectives.
This team spirit is the best thing about our unit, as it means that practical and emotional support is always there when you need it. Our CSW is part of the team too and she has offered us so much learning and support from her years of experience in practice. She is also very good at drawing on our individual strengths and helping us to share those in the group. We have become very good friends and spend a lot of time together in and out of work. We know we will be able to continue sharing ideas and expertise as we continue working in Gateshead next year in separate teams.