An 18-year-old from North London explains why her current social worker is “amazing”
I have an amazing social worker. Recently, she drove me to Wembley to hand out CVs to help me get a part-time job. She cares about me and what’s important in my life right now. Social workers have just been given mobiles, and it makes me feel good when I get a text from my social worker – even if it’s a short ‘are you ok?’ or ‘hope your exam goes well’. It must take less than 10 seconds to write but its little things like that that make you feel cared for and special.
It hasn’t always been this way, I have had so many social workers I can barely count, but it’s the good ones you remember. Some simply didn’t have the time for me and thought that it was the carer’s job to look after and care for me. Carers seem to feel like social workers should be doing more and vice versa; this is all down to the lack of communication in the system.
If I could change one thing about social work it would be to cut down the layers in the system. There are so many it becomes almost like Chinese Whispers. Great social workers can’t always make decisions. They’re too often given the role of messenger, but the system is too slow to respond due to constant lack of communication.
My local authority provides money for me, meaning that I’ve been able to do things like go on school trips or have music lessons. However, I often missed out on these experiences that were available to most children because it took too long for social workers to get approval for the paperwork. Then there are other times when I feel like they just throw money at you to make up for less material things. This money could be spent on more social workers who can help you develop your potential. My social worker is fantastic – but she has 17 cases. Good social workers get given more cases, but then that limits the face-time you get with them, which is the most important part of their job.
I am really hoping to go to university in the next couple of years. I want to have the chance to move away from London and explore different parts of the country. If I do move, I will be taking a big gamble. I will have to give up my flat – and then, if I do return to London after graduation, it would be really difficult for me to find housing again. The pressure to get a job immediately would be immense. All this on top of completing my A-Levels amounts to tough decisions. Saying that, the Looked After Children Education teams have been really helpful in organising me a Personal Education Plan and in supporting me to achieve my academic potential.
There are great social workers out there, like mine, but we need more of them. If something’s important to me, it should be important to my social worker. It’s not about knowing every little thing I’m up to, or always doing things for me – I don’t need her to do that – but knowing that she cares and that she can get things done; that’s what makes the difference.