The children’s social worker who was interviewed preferred to remain anonymous.


Firstly, why did you want to become a social worker?

“I had had a good and stable upbringing and wanted to provide children with this opportunity too. Also I wanted to give children, who are in dire circumstances, the support they need to defy the odds and do something successful in their lives.”

Did you have any misconceptions about your job before starting?

"I thought there would be more time with the families. Instead a lot of my time is spent in the office filling out paperwork.”

Do children open up to you?

“Yes- some more than others. Seeing children open up and actively take steps in the right direction is so rewarding.”

How do you build a relationship with these children?

“It takes time (to build a relationship with the children) because it’s not a quick or easy process. You have to get to know the child and be able to empathise with them. Listening to them is crucial because these kids need to feel respected and valued or they will shut you off. Finding common ground helps build a rapport.”

How do you not become too emotionally involved?

“You definitely can become too emotionally involved. Personally, I know when I need to take a step back and do my upmost to not mix my work with my personal life. Becoming too invested could have a negative impact on the child as you’re more likely to make irrational decisions.”

What’s the most frustrating aspect of your job?

“One of the most difficult things is the lack of public confidence in the profession and the stigma surrounding social workers. For example, negative experiences with a social worker is deemed as the norm so children and teenagers don’t trust you. This can hinder the positive impact you want to have on people’s lives and can sometimes mean that people are reclusive and abusive towards you. What’s most annoying is that there is very little you can do to change public perception of the profession.”

Are there times when your safety feels compromised?

“Unfortunately yes but it is part of the job. There are times when you are in unexpected and unsafe situations with potentially irrational and compulsive people. For example, on lone visits precautions are not always in place. There are times when home visits are deemed too dangerous for the police but not too dangerous for social workers.”

People’s lives are not nine to five. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

“I regularly have to work out of hours. But you learn to keep the work separate from your life. For me, I don’t like to work from home. To escape from work, I spend time with family and friends and do exercise. If I didn’t (have a good work-life balance) I don’t think I would be able to effectively carry out my job- I can’t look after others without looking after myself first.”

By Caitlin Mainwaring