Jill: I thought I was too old to start a new career
I have had a number of different careers. For 13 years I worked in radio as a presenter/producer which I loved, before becoming a full-time mum to three amazing children. While my children were at school, I did a lot of volunteering. This included helping in a primary school, working for a charity befriending and supporting vulnerable families in my area and even starting a toddler group. During this time, I also trained as a TEFL teacher and in 2018 started a business making and selling dairy-free chocolate.
A number of years ago a friend suggested I would make a good social worker and I guess this sowed the seed in my mind, but I never really seriously considered it until last year. The COVID 19 pandemic saw a lot of changes in my personal circumstances and I decided to look for a new job. I saw an advert recruiting for Frontline programme in my area and decided to give it a shot even though I thought I was too old to start a new career and hadn’t written an essay for 20 years! But I have a passion for improving outcomes for children and wanting to make a difference. I felt as a social worker I could do this on a wider scale than just the few individuals I was working with as a volunteer. I had the practical experience of working with vulnerable families and children in my local area, and as a parent I could relate to the struggles and challenges families are facing. It was daunting starting a new career that was so different to all my previous work, but at the same time I felt I was at a stage in life where my own children are all teenagers and I was ready for a new challenge.
The way I have seen myself grow and develop in just 12 months is amazing.
I liked the fact that the Frontline programme was a work-based placement where we would be gaining hands on experience right from the start, rather than just an academic course. It was also local to me, so met the needs of balancing my family responsibilities too. The biggest positive for me has been the support I have felt from my CSW, my tutor and my unit. In my unit we are all very different ages and backgrounds and yet I could not have got through this without them. The year has been a rollercoaster of emotions and challenges but I have felt encouraged, accepted and not alone.
The way I have seen myself grow and develop in just 12 months is amazing. From all the theory and learning of the summer institute which often felt quite overwhelming, all these months down the line I am using the skills and tools I’ve learned and it’s become second nature.
I have found becoming a social worker has been a culmination of my life experience, volunteering roles and passion to work for change, coming together. Every day is different and every family is unique and has their own challenges. The high point for me is working with the children and young people which I really enjoy and when you do see changes happening and things improving it is so rewarding.