Frontline fellow, London
Before joining Frontline, I worked for a university doing outreach programmes for young people who don’t usually go on to higher education. I really enjoyed the work and thought it was important, but the more I did it the more I realised that without stable conditions at home, education often could not be the priority.
Despite working with looked after children, I never considered becoming a social worker because my experiences with them hadn’t been good. It was a Frontline presentation that persuaded me the programme would be a good way to continue working with young people and hopefully to understand why some of my interactions with social workers had been so negative and how I could avoid repeating that with the young people I worked with.
On the programme, I developed the ability to stay calm under pressure and to meet people where they are, not where I wish or think they might be. I learned to have much more honest conversations with people and myself.
My consultant social worker was amazing – it’s so important to have someone guiding you that you trust and admire. That doesn’t mean your practice will be the same as them, but having someone I respected allowed me to develop my own style and practice.
I worked with so many incredible parents and young people who were often trying their best in really difficult situations. By working with them, I was able to appreciate how much they were teaching me and how they were helping shape my practice as I was supporting them. My most rewarding experience was supporting one of my young people back into education after a break of nearly a year.
I think it’s made me panic less about anything because I think your threshold for risk changes, it’s also just made me appreciate how hard some families work just to stay afloat
I think the Fellowship is really flexible and allows you to stay engaged in Frontline’s mission in different ways – I think it’s the mission that engages people in the first place. Because the Fellowship has such a diverse range of activities to get involved in, it allows you to pursue the things that are most interesting and relevant to you.
Through the Fellowship, I’ve been able to stay in touch with developments in the profession through the leadership series and develop my interviewing and assessment skills through work on the Frontline assessment centre. It’s also given me access to a range of professionals and resources, while developing an idea for my own charity.
I hope that it maintains that flexibility even as it continues to grow.
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Having a child confide in and trust you, and seeing them grow is also something that stays with you and gives you hope for the future.
With other fellows, I’ve been able to think about the scope for change and innovation in practice, policy and research across the sector.
By far the biggest insight Firstline has given me is into my own behaviour and the way that I lead others and support the team.
My time as a social worker has made me more adaptable, confident in my own judgements, calm in a crisis and able to prioritise effectively.
I think every child has the talent to do well and succeed. If I can change their lives in any way so they can do that, then that’s what I want to do.
The most important thing I learnt from the Frontline programme was the importance of building relationships with the families we work with.
Through the Fellowship, I’ve been able to stay in touch with developments in the profession through the leadership series and develop my interviewing and assessment skills through work on the Frontline assessment centre.
Prior to starting Frontline, I enjoyed a stimulating career as a teacher for 35 years. Frontline presented me with the opportunity to work with these young people at the other end of the school day, in their home and family.
Sometimes social work is about hard-fought but small successes, which although small can be really rewarding when they represent a shift in a family’s thinking or behaviour.
Firstline has helped me look at how I manage my staff. It’s helped me identify that whilst I’m good at managing performance I’m not great at interacting with extreme levels of emotions.
I got involved with the Fellowship because I got so much out of my experience with Firstline. I can confidently say I don’t think I would be a service manager today had it not been for the Firstline programme.