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My name is Kelly.
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I’m a social worker who works for the London borough of Hillingdon,
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which is a West London borough.
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To be a social worker, it’s a professional career
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whereby you are an agent for change,
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so you support people to essentially solve their problems.
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But there’s also
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a part of the job whereby you safeguard vulnerable people in the community.
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My role is in children’s services and therefore I work
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with young people from the ages of 11 to 18.
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And the young people that I work with are experiencing harm in the community.
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So my job can look like supporting young people at police stations,
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supporting them in court, doing some direct work with them,
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enabling them to keep themselves safer and working on aspirations and goals
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and helping them onto a career path, which ultimately is a protective
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factor for young people.
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One of the main things is empathy.
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It’s a big component of the job.
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You need to empathise and understand other people and be able
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to put yourself in their shoes in order to work effectively with them.
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I did do my GCSEs and I got the grades
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that I needed in maths, English, science.
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I did go to college but college didn’t work out for me.
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And so I went into employment
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and then later on in my career I decided I wanted to be a social worker.
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So I was able to do my degree through the Open University,
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which allows you to do your degree, provided
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you have the maths and English qualification as a GCSE.
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Most social workers do typically do A-levels
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and go into university to study social work straight away.
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But college and schooling doesn’t always work out how people plan
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so there are other routes into the profession.
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My first job was actually at Burger King.
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I loved that job. It was it was a great job.
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I liked listening to the music and serving customers. And I guess
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people might view Burger King as a not very good job
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but it’s really good in terms of enhancing social skills
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and just having that routine and work ethic.
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And then from Burger King, I actually went on to do an NVQ
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in administration and I feel the benefit of doing that was
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I enhanced my English writing skills, which is really important in social work.
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And I went on from working in administration in an education setting
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and then I went on to do my social work degree after being a family support worker.
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I personally had experience of having a social worker as well,
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so I felt like that was something that was really beneficial to take to the role.
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So my lived experiences and building up my work skills made me take that plunge.
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My experiences of social workers as a young person was that it was a mixed bag.
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The good social workers were really, really helpful.
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They knew how to support me and direct me to make small changes in my life
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which has ultimately ended up with me having a successful career.
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So that’s one of the reasons I feel like social work’s important.
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The interesting thing about social work is that your personality is a strength.
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The difficulties that you’ve overcome in life are a strength
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and the use of self is so important.
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And I feel like I would tell young people, believe in yourself.
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And even if you
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can’t take a straightforward route to it, if it’s something that you wanted to do,
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there’s other ways of being able to achieve your goals, and so to go for it.
“The interesting thing about social work is that your personality is a strength.”
College didn’t work out for Kelly. After a range of jobs – and inspired by her experience of being in care – she studied to become a social worker with the Open University.
More information about Social workers
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Liaises with other health and social care professionals and agencies to identify those in need and at risk within the local community;
- Interviews individuals and groups to assess and review the nature and extent of difficulties;
- Undertakes and writes up assessments to specified standards;
- Arranges for further counselling or assistance in the form of financial or material help;
- Organises support and develops care plans to address service users’ needs;
- Keeps case records, prepares reports and participates in team meetings;
- Gives evidence in court;
- Participates in training and supervision.
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