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To ask what it is like to work as a social worker?

(51 Posts)
Longwalkoffashortpier Tue 05-Dec-17 14:35:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TotemIcePole Tue 05-Dec-17 14:41:23

Im not able to answer your question.

It is something I could never consider, I may be wrong but I imagine it to be utterly harrowing, the reports you have to read, write and act upon.

To know an address where adults & children are being abused, neglected and worse must be sickening.

To not be able to physically knock and grab all the children and look after them.

I realise I sound bloody doom and gloom, but we suffered as children.

Its the emotional support that I woud hope was there for staff.

blueskyinmarch Tue 05-Dec-17 14:47:02

I trained as a SW and began work in 2004. By 2016 i had had enough and 'retired' (not quite old enough but financially secure so was able to leave). I am possibly not the best person to advise you but here is my experience:

I enjoyed doing the uni work. I already had a psychology degree and did a 2 year post grad to get my DipSW. I was earning around £33K when i left which is crap i think for the stressfulness and responsibility of the job.

I worked in child protection. It was very stressful and the hours could be very erratic because once you had started a job you couldn't go home until you were certain the child had been safeguarded. The paperwork and the level of accountability was very high and made it very stressful. I enjoyed it some of the time and i had a lovely supportive team and tram manager which helped.

I don't know of any specific SEN needs type SW jobs. I think that would be quite niche. Many local LA don't even have a children with disabilities team any more - they are amalgamated with normal children and families teams.

If you want to get onto a SW course you will probably need to show that you have been doing some voluntary work related to SW. I think the places are highly oversubscribed. You need to be a resilient and well grounded person to go into this type of work.

Onefliesoverthecuckoosnest Tue 05-Dec-17 15:03:00

I was/am a SW in children's services. It was draining, hard graft, stressful but with an occasional buzz that made it somewhat worthwhile! Pay is OK, about 27-35 K depending on where you live and what level you are. Typical public sector - family friendly policies and good sick policies, but they also expect your pound of flesh, lots of unpaid overtime, late nights, weekends spend writing court reports.

I am not really selling it, am I? grin

However, now I am an independent Social Worker and I pick and choose what work I want to take on and am pretty well paid.

On balance, I am not sorry that I chose this career.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 05-Dec-17 15:03:28

I did it for a few years a decade ago. With adults with LDs. It was fabulous. Very hard work, very stressful, very dangerous at times but I loved it. However, my team was known as a really supportive, friendly team with a great manager.

Have you worked/volunteered in the field at all? Because that is really important. Both to get to be a SW and to find out if you can cope with it.

ilovethepug Tue 05-Dec-17 15:04:35

I'm a social worker with a children with disabilities team and although there are times when the workload can be stressful on the whole it is a very rewarding career.
It is a privilege to work with children and families who are at their most vulnerable and to be allowed access into their lives. The feeling that you have made a difference to a child's life makes the stress and paperwork worthwhile.
I think working within a children with disabilities team is less stressful than a child protection team but in my team we still do child protection and court work, it's just that there is less of it because we work with a smaller percentage of the children in our area. I am currently working part time after returning from maternity leave and do find that I am putting some extra hours in at home, however I think that part time hours can be difficult in this role as it is hard to fit everything in, for example I have to visit children at home and so can only fit in two visits to children per week as all of my caseload are in school. Also meetings may be scheduled on my non working days so I will often go in for these but I'm lucky to have flexible childcare to allow me to do this.
I have in the past had to work late nights, this was usually when I was involved in a child protection case and of course you cannot just leave work at 5pm if there are children that need to be safeguarded. Some nights I have stayed at work till 11pm placing children in foster placements, however this is not a regular occurrence in my team as we are working with a smaller percentage of the children in the borough and our role is very broad covering everything from early support right through to child protection and care proceedings.

Ecureuil Tue 05-Dec-17 15:06:04

My best friend is a child protection social worker. She’s exhausted and stressed. She barely sees her own 2 year old because she works all hours.

Whenwillitstop1 Tue 05-Dec-17 15:11:04

I'm reading with interest as I'm currently studying to be a social worker (not started degree but on an access course) however have been hearing some negative things, especially in relation to low pay and high stress levels/long working hours. I didn't choose this career to be rich but some people are telling me the starting salary is ariund £26k? I thought it would be more than that

Fragglewump Tue 05-Dec-17 15:45:06

I also considered it as I work with sw’s very closely and could convert my degree. But I know the threshold for good enough parenting is very low and children are left in damaging home environments and I would struggle with that I think. Also around here there is a massive shortage of sws so the ones who are left are under huge pressure with massive caseloads.

Mooey89 Tue 05-Dec-17 15:46:48

I qualified in 2010.
I’m a senior social worker with adults.
I regularly work overtime, my hours are quite family friendly, my team is amazing. Most of the time I love it whilst secretly fanaticising about opening a bridal boutique blush

I’m also a Best interests assessor so scope to go independent in a few years. I’m also planning to move to do my AMHP training after I’ve finished having babies - only because that really is anti social.

The degree is ok, you learn all the stuff you need on your placements not in the lecture hall.

I’m 28 and on 31k, and that is as a senior prac! More in different LAs though. Don’t come in it for the money 😂

You couldn’t pay me enough to go into child protection. It broke most of my friends within 2 years!

hula008 Tue 05-Dec-17 16:09:07

Starting salary is around 26k and that’s pretty reasonable I think compared with other professions.

hatgirl Tue 05-Dec-17 16:23:02

Starting salary is around £26k but doesn’t really go up much over the course of your social work career, even senior social worker’s tend to be capped at about £36k.

It’s public sector so generous sick pay and reasonalblish maternity pay etc.

Yes you will work overtime, yes you will be stressed. It depends on your caseload at the time and how supportive your manager and colleagues are as to how much you will do/be of either.

The placements to qualify are long and unpaid.

The longer I have been doing the job (nearly 10 years) the less I enjoy it but that is largely for political reasons and cuts.

It’s unlikely you will walk straight into a children with disabilities team, most of the jobs in children’s services are in child protection, it’s almost a rite of passage to do a stint there first whilst waiting for other jobs to come up.

Would you be doing the BA or MA route?

Shoppingdotcom Tue 05-Dec-17 16:23:05

I'm a social worker in child protection. It's a very stressful job which doesn't always work well with family commitments unless you have good support around you. It can be rewarding but can also really takeover all aslects of life.

I get 37k as senior prac but always work more than standard hours.

I am lucky to be part of an amazing supportive team but the paoerwirk and sense of responsibility are unbelievable. As a previous poster said, caseloads are high due to staff shortage. Agency workers can be a god send but can also leave with one weeks notice meaning their cases fall to us.

If I had my time again I would not have chosen this career. I love working directly with children but this is such a small part of the role, which is ironic really. I'm thinking if applying for a welfare support manager in a secondary school.

Templeofdoom1974 Tue 05-Dec-17 16:31:44

After working as a SW in substance misuse for 15 years I finally burnout at the age of 40. I now work in the voluntary sector, less stress, less money but I’m happier. Think about it carefully, it’s an extremely stressful, demoralising job, bugger all resources, even less support and long hours. If I could live my life over again I would have trained as a occupational therapist.

fantasmasgoria1 Tue 05-Dec-17 16:34:55

Qualified five years ago but never wanted to work as a sw. The degree opened doors for me however and have had good jobs but the amount of stress etc I saw sw going through whilst doing my degree put me right off!

GreatStar Tue 05-Dec-17 16:56:28

Its hell. Truly stressful hell.

Mooey89 Tue 05-Dec-17 17:02:01

greatstar flowers

Skarossinkplunger Tue 05-Dec-17 17:16:25

Social Worker here, in answer to your questions

Daily
No
Crap
Some days I enjoy it, others I go home and sob
Not mentally taxing but hard work

Welshmaenad Tue 05-Dec-17 17:27:25

Starting salary for QSW in my LA is £33.5k. Senior practice rate is £36.5k. I am surprised some LAs are so low.

GreatStar Tue 05-Dec-17 17:32:06

Do you regularly have to do more than your contracted hours? ......... always.
Is it family friendly? ...... no. It should be but the reality is having to do a lot of the work in your own time
What is the pay like? ...... not ever enough for the wear and tear on your car and the hours expected
Do you enjoy it? .... certainly has its ups and downs!
How hard is the degree!!!! ...... its a professional degree so a mix of both academic and placement studies. Theres a lot of written work involved in the placements.

MiMi78 Tue 05-Dec-17 17:45:25

The paperwork, Christ the paperwork. It's like nothing on Earth. And it just keeps coming at you. You will probably have to do a stint in CP for a while as that's where the jobs are.
And you have to be prepared for some heartbreaking situations, so you need to be emotionally resilient.
I'm in Voluntary now doing a similar job, but have worked at cases where the child has died. Which as you can imagine, stays with you.

INeedToEat Tue 05-Dec-17 17:47:04

Another social worker here - in London.

There are many many roles you can do as a qualified social worker. From fostering and adoption, CAF, adults, CAMHS, looked after children, children in need, child protection/front line roles and many more.
Each has it's own set of stressful factors / the good bits. People tend to do a couple of years of front line for the experience, then move on to different teams / roles.

I personally have never done unpaid overtime. I realise how lucky I am but my role is pretty specific and I don't carry a case load.

Pay is pretty good (around 45k) but it's never been about the money.

I've done unqualified and qualified work for 25 years now and I love social work as much today as I did all those years ago.

ShuttyTown Tue 05-Dec-17 17:54:27

Child protection SW's, how do you cope seeing children being abused etc. I don't know how I'd cope with that. I think of the SW's involved in cases such as Baby P, they must find it so hard to live with what happened sad

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 05-Dec-17 18:29:37

The truth is you carry a lot of fear. People not in the business think that the cases in the news are rare and the SWs are dreadful for not pouring all their time into that one case. Truth is at any one time I might have had 10 people on my caseload at serious risk of dying, sexual abuse or serious harm. They wouldn't be on the caseload otherwise.

You need to have quite high tolerance for stress, risk... oh and hatred when you tell people what you do.

niceupthedance Tue 05-Dec-17 18:44:39

I’m a sw and I work with teenagers. I rarely work overtime and if I do I can take time back to go to assemblies and doctors appointments etc.
The money is crap, my car is knackered.
There are a lot of stressful situations and I often have anxiety dreams about my young people if they are out there and in trouble.
But it’s a great, worthwhile job, my young people regularly say thank you (I imagine not the case in other teams) and my colleagues are fab.

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