My First Taste of Social Work in the UK

I have officially been at work for a few weeks now and it was quite an exciting, overwhelming and frustrating experience full of meeting various team members, signing up for training, learning the computer systems and learning the policies and procedures of social work. Oh and also, I have now developed an allergic reaction to the word “timescales”.

I was looking forward to working until my supervisor told me in my first meeting that I would either “sink or swim”. In that one second, I went from feeling optimistic to a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Now, I am under no illusion that this work will be easy. I know it will be hard work, but I did not expect those to be the words that I hear from my supervisor. Needless to say, I began to question just what kind of supervision I was going to receive. To add to this feeling of dread, all of the social workers of the team told me that they spend many of their evenings and weekends writing court reports to meet timescales. I was not happy to hear that this job is going to suck my personal life. I have been very fortunate in my social work career to work 9-5 jobs (with the occasional late evening where there is a crisis) where I can leave work at work. My evenings and weekends are MINE.

I also began to think about some of the issues that plague social work in the UK–the lack of qualified, trained social workers who work in child protection. One of the reasons has to be due to a lack of training on the job…based on my experience.

And it could just be particular to my local authority. During the orientation/induction period at all of my previous social work jobs, there is always structured training where various aspects of my training have been scheduled for me and I am shadowing various social workers on the job. Not in this case. I had to figure out and arrange pretty much everything on my own…which to me was such a waste of time. I’ve had limited opportunities to shadow other social workers on visits because either they don’t have visits I could attend…or they have actually forgotten that I was supposed to shadow them! This perhaps is a testament to how stressed and overworked many of these social workers are in their jobs—but also frustrating for me as the new social worker. My co-workers have been supportive and helpful whenever I ask questions but there is a definite lack in the importance of training, especially when we are seen as the “professional expert” in child protection. Luckily, there are other new social workers to the team, so we are able to vent to each other.

Over the next several weeks, I will be getting my caseload. I am already trying to find good organizational techniques to keep me on the ball! If you have any helpful tips on staying organized and managing time…please let me know! I want to make sure that I stay on top of all these timescales and never ending meetings.

On top of this stress, I have also had a few lessons on driving a manual car from my SO. Word to the wise…you must have to really love each other to teach/learn driving from your partner!!  For some reason, I was incredibly petrified, but I think that did have a lot to do with the fact that my SO put me on some back road where only one car can get through…clearly his standards were just a little too high! And we definitely have different definitions of yelling too 😉 He claims that he never yelled, but I beg to differ. Eventually we found a quiet road with a small roundabout at each end and I just drove in figure 8?s shifting from first to second gear. I felt much better!

Thinking about doing yoga and meditation to cope with the demands of my job…just thinking about it….


The blog Social Work Shenanigans is by a Social Worker from Canada who has just moved to the UK. You can follow this social workers shenanigans by visiting: