Why I interned at Frontline – and why it’s so important

11th August 2013

Final year student Anya O’Shea explains why she interned at Frontline, and why she’ll be encouraging her friends to apply

Last Spring, when scrolling through endless pages of campaigning jobs and charity internships, Frontline stood out instantly as the organisation I wanted to join. Frontline looked like something new, ready to confront the realities many children face every day. Frontline looked like it was about action, about getting out there and changing lives. 

When I started at Frontline there was only three other people in a meeting room of the children’s charity Ark. Not that you’d have guessed it, from the hive of activity. Three days before Frontline had announced that its funding from the government had been granted and that a whole host of new and outstanding individuals were going to be trained as children’s social workers. My first job was to reply to the hundreds of emails that had flooded in over the weekend expressing support for Frontline and asking when they could apply. The Frontline programme hadn’t even launched yet, but we were already heading quickly towards 3,000 expressions of interest. 

People have been calling for change in children’s social work for a long time. It’s one of Britain’s toughest jobs, but it isn’t treated with the prestige it deserves. Frontline can help to change this. Frontline has not been afraid to call on every piece of support it can when designing such a thorough selection process and programme.  It puts its values into action, “what matters is what works”. All sorts of people have contributed their expertise to make the Frontline programme the best it can be; social workers, academics, think tanks, consultancies, children’s charities and – vitally – young people including care leavers.

The most influential aspect of my time in Frontline HQ has been seeing this team of people so dedicated to their mission. It is, quite literally, painted on the office wall. It is evident in every single project. You can see it in the evaluation framework, the application process, or even in the website design. One of my most memorable days here was when I went to interview a young person who talked frankly and openly about her experiences of social workers. She is an inspiring young woman, currently living semi-independently, who taught me what really makes a good social worker. We met her so that her lessons could be profiled here on our website (it’s coming soon!). I am certain that through her story others will be equally inspired about the importance of outstanding children’s social workers.

Luckily, my involvement in Frontline didn’t come to an end once my internship finished. This week I’ve been back out on campus in Edinburgh to share with final year students the work Frontline is doing and how they can get involved. There’s so many ambitious young people, like me, who want to have a meaningful impact. An organisation like Frontline is so important to show us where we’re needed most, to train us to be the best we can be and, most of all, place us where children are most in need of support.