Life as a newly qualified Social Worker

Newly qualified Social Worker, Josh Devlin, graduated from the University of Manchester in December 2017. As a graduate from the unique two year Social Work master’s at Manchester, Josh is well placed to give us an insight in to what life is really like as a Social Worker and how his placements helped him to secure the job he’s in today…

Tell us a little about your job role…

Since graduating from The University of Manchester I have worked as a Social Worker for Trafford Council. I work with children and families in what is known as an area family support team. My work ranges from working with children who are in need of support due to a range of challenging circumstances – to working with children who are at risk of harm. In addition, some of my work involves supporting looked after children as well as court work.

I am currently part way through my ASYE – Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. This involves attending workshops at university with other newly qualified social workers. It also gives me an additional level of support and supervision with a protected case load and three monthly reviews to track my progress and identify further areas of development. At the end of my ASYE year I will submit a portfolio (similar to placement practice portfolio) which evidences my progress and capabilities to be a fully-fledged qualified Social Worker.

Image sourced from Trafford Council twitter page

Your route in to your current position…

I was lucky enough to have two (fantastic) placements with Trafford council in similar teams to the one I am currently working in. My first placement was in the same kind of team (area team) albeit in a different locality within the borough. My second placement was in the assessment and duty team which looks at referrals and carries out initial assessments – essentially the ‘front door’ to children’s services. These placements not only gave me a solid foundation of experience in statutory children’s social work but also a basic knowledge of local services, policies and thresholds in the area. After finishing my second placement, I successfully applied for a non-social work post in the Local Authority however shortly after was invited back to interview for a Social Worker post. It was a fortunate set of circumstances which certainly aligned in my favour!

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A typical day at work…

My day normally starts at 8.30am – I try to avoid scheduling appointments or meetings first thing to give me a chance to check my emails, prioritise my to-do list for the day etc. I will typically have somewhere between two and five appointments each day – these could be; multi-agency review meetings with professionals and family members; completing direct work with children in school or the community; completing home visits to families; completing assessment and structured work sessions with parents and a whole range more. The rest of my time will be spent in the office doing things like; writing up reports and case recording; making referrals to other agencies and liaising with other professionals.

Quite often something may happen with a family or young person unexpectedly which requires immediate action or support – this means that with all the best intentions and planning – quite often I need to juggle my diary around at the last minute. This requires me to be very creative with my time. My working day is scheduled to finish at 4.30pm however more often than not I continue working after this time – for example to visit families out of school/work hours or when dealing with an emergency. There is an expectation in statutory children’s social work that when it is required social workers will work outside of the core office hours – however managers do support us to take this time back (e.g. by finishing early one day) wherever possible.

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The best thing about your job…

The level of job satisfaction I get from supporting children and young people to overcome adversity through building meaningful relationships with them and their families make all the stressful days worth it. I think without that I would not have the motivation to work the long hours and deal with challenging situations I find myself in. In addition – my role is never, ever boring – every day is completely different and unforeseen events frequently crop up.

I find myself in a range of settings throughout Greater Manchester – schools, hospitals, police stations and work with a range of allied professionals – police, teachers, health professionals – all who have a different set of expertise and ways of working but who all share similar goals of achieving positive outcomes for children and their families. At 24, my role is very exciting yet obviously challenging. Every day I am directly working with situations that a couple of years ago my only knowledge of would have been through reality documentaries and the news. Sometimes when I get home from work I have to check in with myself – did that all really happen today?!


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