being Auntie Sarah

How cute is this little cherub? Emily is the absolutely charming and lovely 12 week old daughter of my friends Aaron and Debs. In the last few weeks she has really developed her own sweet personality…and has also suddenly begun looking like Debs! I am so privileged to be Auntie Sarah to this sweetie. Rest assured I did campaign incredibly hard for her to be named Sarah…alas she is not a baby Sarah, but Emily May is a true joy!

I don’t thank God enough, but what a blessed girl I am, to get to be Auntie to some lovely little ones.

I am counting down the days until I get to see my other little niece-lets and nephew over in the USA. Just 18 days to go. I’m so excited, but also so unprepared…I have a ton of things to do and really need to get going with them:
…travel insurance
…ESTA (tourist visa)
…exchanging money

As well as general life stuff too! For today though, I am resting resting resting since I got barely 4 hours of sleep last night.

Catch you later

-x-

10…

keep-calm-10-days-left-300x300

Only 10 days to go until my (what seems now to be annual…) trip to Oregon, USA! I am unbelievably, beyond words excited – and right now I can’t work out if it’s more because I cannot wait to see some of the superest, most lovely people I know, or because I will be escaping from work for 17 whole days.

Escaping may feel a bit of an exaggeration, and at 9.50pm on a Sunday night it probably is. However, since returning to work in January after almost two weeks off, I have to say that work has felt – at times – like we are trying to push water up a hill. And in case y’all don’t know, that can’t be done.

On top of which, this week it became clear that at the end of April I will be moving to my thirteenth house. Our contract here runs out and for reasons that aren’t mine to post on here, my housemate won’t be staying with me. I can’t stay on my own for financial reasons so I have three options:
1) find a new housemate (which is a complete gamble; I’ve taken it before with my house before this one and it was such a mistake. I almost went mad – I’m not willing to do that again)
2) join a new house-share (reluctant to do this for the same reasons as point one
3) branch out and get my own place

Option 3 now seems like the way to go, and I feel pretty ok about it. It’s obviously not my choice to leave here but I can’t do anything about the situation so I have to count it as joy and deal with it. Except, I can’t afford to live by myself – which is why I haven’t done it before.

I know that God has a plan for me in this, and I have a few ideas that would make living by myself a viable option…if they don’t work out I trust that God has something better. I do wish I didn’t have to have this upheaval, again, though.

Someday soon I’ll do a blog about all my houses and moves. I am an excellent house-mover, having done it so many times (11 times since I was 9…level: Expert)

Back to the holiday though. I fly out on the 7th March and am back early on Saturday 23rd. I have two days of travelling to get back, which will be tough but it is worth it. I love my US friends so much and visiting them always feels a bit like coming home. I think God has timed this right for me – a few weeks respite, albeit with 4 crazy kids (and a crazy dog) – but it is the kind of madness that I absolutely enjoy and that does me a whole lot of good.

I can’t wait – 10 days and counting!!

-x-

Let’s just say it clearly. I hate confrontation.

I don’t like yelling, nasty comments, or being in trouble. I don’t like dealing with trouble, or awkward situations where “things need to be said”. Wherever possible I completely avoid confrontation. There’s nothing worse than getting caught up in a shouting match. The thought of getting into confrontation over things is enough to seriously freak me out. I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid a conflict.

It wasn’t always like this, don’t get me wrong. I had my fair share of shouting matches with my siblings when I was growing up, and could really yell at my mum when I wanted to. I probably had several people’s share of arguments, actually!

But since being at Uni and “becoming an adult” I’ve developed an actual phobia of confrontation! Even when it’s nothing to do with me, I feel responsible and involved, and it makes me really anxious. Let’s not even go into how horrible I feel when I actually am involved – it’s the worst.

The thing is, avoiding confrontation is difficult when a large part of my job is working with teenagers, who do stupid or nasty things and need to be told off.

I diskike telling people off almost as much as I dislike being told off.

It makes me feel like a horrible person! I have discovered that, while I don’t yell, my “social worker” voice is just as effective at getting the point across. Believe me, if it gets so bad that I use *that* voice, you are in trouble.

What the kids don’t see, is that while I’m being stern Ms Social Worker I’m actually trying very hard not to let my voice shake, or my hands shake. Because I really really hate confrontation!

I’m learning, because dealing with confrontation is a skill that I have to develop. Not only in my professional life, although that is really important, but in my “real life” too – for years I’ve run and hid from controntation, trying to do anything and everything to avoid it but all this does is make the underlying situation worse and then *that conversation* is that much harder.

This also goes for confronting issues in my relationship with God. God is always consistent, and whatever happens in my life is in His control. Sometimes He wants to challenge me, and confronts me with things in myself that He wants to change or deal with. How many times have I hidden my head in the sand? Lots.

The answer must be down here somewhere

I’m trying not to do it anymore, because God knows my heart and only works for my good. It’s a hard learning curve, but it will be worth it in the end. Ostriches never prosper, and have to pull their heads out of the sand eventually.

-x-

(yes, the other day I was an tree and today I’m an ostrich…I like metaphors, they work for me!)

 

 

“What is it you do, exactly?”

Since the first episode of ‘Protecting Our Children’ was shown last week on BBC2 (http://goo.gl/5Uac5) I’ve had a lot of questions from friends/acquaintances asking about social work. One girl, who knows me well and therefore shall remain nameless asked me: “what is it that you do, exactly?!”

So I thought I’d spend a little time today explaining my job, since I spend the vast majority of my time working, thinking about work or recovering from work.

The simplest way to describe my role is “one row back from child protection”. Social workers like me come into play when the Child Protection work is over, or almost over.

Using the example of Toby (the child from the documentary) … he had a social worker Susannah, who had responsibility for ensuring his safety in his parents’ care. When he was removed from his parents’ care into Foster Care, he would then have become the responsibility of another social worker. This would be his Allocated Social Worker, and they would work in a Looked After Children’s Team.

I’m not one of those. My job title is “Supervising Social Worker”. We support the adults, who take care of the children.

Toby was placed with foster carers…his foster carers would have had their own Supervising Social Worker. This is a registered social worker who works for either the Local Authority (Social Services) or an Independent Fostering Agency (which is what I do)

A Supervising Social Worker is there to help the adults to give the best care they can to the child. We have a statutory duty to visit the home every 4 weeks, to provide supervision, practical advice and emotional support to the carer(s). We also meet with the children and talk with them about their experiences in foster care.

Many children placed in IFAs are there because there were no suitable options for them in Local Authority care. This could be because of ongoing child protection issues – e.g. needing them out of their local area for their own safety. More often it is because of their emotional or behavioural needs, and their having exhausted all local options for care.

Children in foster care all have their own unique ‘issues’ and difficulties. My role is to support the adult to enable them to continue providing a high standard of care to the child. If the carer is struggling, then the level of care they give is likely to suffer.

A SSW will attend meetings about the child, such as “Looked After Child Reviews” or “Personal Education Plan” meetings. Our role here is to explain our perception of the child, his/her needs, the positives and negatives that the carer has experienced in looking after him/her. Our role is directly and indirectly related to the care of the child; we ensure that the carer is doing all they can…but ultimately the ASW and the Looked After Child Team is responsible for the child, acting as their Corporate Parent.
I hope that’s a simple but clear explanation. You can read more about social work by going to http://www.gscc.org.uk and following the links.