Nick Cook decided to change his career and pursue social work after being made redundant in his previous role. He shares why social work appealed to him and his experience of the Frontline programme so far.
I spent the first 22 years of my working life in the exhibitions and publishing industry – starting off as a journalist on a series of trade magazines for the fashion industry, and moving on to working across a portfolio of trade exhibitions, also in fashion and footwear. I was made redundant when our parent company acquired our main competitor, and decided to take some time off to think about whether I wanted to continue in the same field or try a new challenge. What I’d liked best about my previous job was always the people, and although it was a commercial role, I was always fascinated by what made people tick, and how their life experiences and particularly their families had made them the people they are. I started thinking about roles which would bring me into direct contact with families, and where I could be involved in work which has a positive impact on lives during the most formative years.
The Frontline programme appealed to me as I was very attracted by the idea of practice learning. I was keen to work directly with children and families as soon as possible. I was also really interested by the unit model, and the concept of sharing ideas and hypotheses within a small, close-knit team. We developed a great relationship with each other right from the off, and being able to share challenges and discuss different viewpoints was of huge benefit right through that first year. I also really enjoyed the academic side – and the opportunity to put the theories we were learning about into practice and see the results.
I was really excited by the idea of being ‘hands on’ right from the start, and over the course of the first year I was able to build up real relationships with the families I was working with and make a difference. You’re always supported but I really felt like myself and my unit colleagues were trusted and valued by the broader team we were in, and we built up great relationships with our consultant social worker and our practice tutor. Although I’m still very much at the beginning of a new career it’s amazing to think how much knowledge and experience I’ve gained in the last year, and although the job can be very stressful at times it’s also hugely rewarding.