protection social work, as a media spokesperson and champion for our profession, I felt it provided a good opportunity to improve the public perception of what is a challenging and complex field of social work, on both a professional and personal level. The programme demonstrates
very well how the complex adult relationships, the confused and confusing thinking behind parents’ actions, impact in a highly personal way on the practitioners trying to engage with them. The series concentrates on work undertaken by my colleagues, and myself, with some highly resistant and complex families. In particular, it shows the effect that potentially threatening – and definitely scary – parents can have on practitioners. This is highly relevant in the post-Baby P world we all inhabit, where the delicate negotiations, tactics, minute adjustments and constant compromises we make, in our endeavour to ensure we are not locked out of the child’s life permanently, are overlooked in the cry for children to be better protected.
Alongside that, the BBC, I
hen the opportunity arose to appear in a BBC programme on child
Thoughts from the College blog
When I have had times of crisis, what I’ve wanted is for someone to come and make things better, not someone to come and try to ‘empower’ me.
One of the key things is always to maintain the client’s
dignity... to see outside of the situation in which you find the person; who they were before they found themselves in troubled circumstances; to build a rapport as gently as possible.
I held someone’s hand at work yesterday. It was
felt, worked very hard to deal with the families and their issues sensitively and with respect. The families were able to provide professionals, through their interviews with the programme producers, insight into how they experience the interventions we attempt when trying to ensure their child remains at the heart of the whole process. It’s rare for us to be able to observe ourselves
through a camera lens, seeing ourselves as others do. I was surprised at how frank and open families were prepared to be: social workers and families, depending on what the presenting story is, aren’t the ‘monsters’ described in the press. We share all the human frailties, vulnerabilities and dilemmas faced by those families we seek to support, and the BBC production team has managed to encapsulate that. It is heartening to see just how my profession rolls up its sleeves and wades into some of the most difficult and distressing circumstances families are faced with. I’m grateful to the BBC producers for allowing that rare glimpse of our work.
Maggie Siviter is child protection conference chair at Bristol City Council. Protecting Our Children will be a three-part series broadcast on BBC2
6 SOCIALWORKMATTERS JAN12
It’s rare for us to be able to
observe ourselves through a camera lens, seeing ourselves as others do
powerful. The person gripped my hand hard. It was what she wanted and it was right in the circumstances. It was miles and miles away from writing up Assessment Frameworks and Funding Applications etc.
Life experience, empathy and a drive to help and stand for the oppressed should be the tenets of
a good and efficient social worker. STEVE ISHMAEL
I love my job, despite the challenge of the cuts to
service. I find I can still get my creative care plans for funding passed as I have worked towards the goals with the service user.
What makes me love social work is the practical element.
Yes, we use theory but we don’t just spout text book knowledge... We take the theory and make it relevant to
people’s everyday lives. THE CONSTANT SOCIAL WORKER
JOIN THE DISCUSSION AT www.collegeofsocialwork.org/join-the-
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