Clare: ‘Expecting the unexpected is key in this job’

Clare Goodwin has been involved in social care for more than 15 years and took the plunge to become a social worker two years ago. Currently working as part of the children in care team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Clare is passionate about enabling those individuals who are most in need to achieve their full potential.

We caught up with Clare to find out more about her role and why being part of a supportive close-knit team is so important to her.

How did you first get into this type of work?

I first started working in social care around 15 years ago, when I joined the probation service. I was there for six years and was working closely with adults and offenders. 

I decided I wanted to carry out a more supportive role, so I moved into supported accommodation for offenders. That’s when I first considered becoming a social worker. I got a job working with children and young people and I have never looked back! 

What is a typical day like for you?

I work in the children in care team, which means I spend most of my time working directly with children and young people. There is still some involvement with families – such as going out to residential placements to make sure that a child’s plans are completed and that things are going right for them – but basically, I’m there to support our children and young people to achieve their full potential, whatever that may entail. 

On a typical day, I will wake up, get ready, come into work and check my emails. I’ll usually then have meetings and other things I need to attend, such as reviews. I’ll also go and visit our children and young people at their placement, which can be a lovely part of the role. Sometimes it’ll just be having a chat with them, or sometimes I might take them out for lunch and do other nice things like that. Every day can be so different.

You can be faced by anything and everything, so expecting the unexpected is really key in this job.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I really like working with people and want everybody to have a chance and the opportunity to reach their full potential. I’m passionate about people’s rights and enabling them to get the most out of life. Some people don’t understand what they’re entitled to or capable of and I love supporting them. I just want them to be able to achieve. 

One of the best bits of the jobs is seeing the little bits of progress you are making happen. The relationships you build with the children and young people are also very rewarding. 

What’s the most challenging thing?

While there are some great parts of the job, there are also some frustrations. For example, you may think you’re getting somewhere with somebody and then things take a step back. You just have to remember that the next day you might take two steps forward and it’s all about that. I think the most important thing is just being there with the person and letting them know that you’re there for them. 

My other main frustration is just not having enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do! 

What skills and qualities do you need as a social worker?

I think to be a social worker you need to be a people person. You need good listening and communication skills and also resilience because sometimes you’re going to get shouted out and sometimes you’re going to face resistance. But you can work through that with the right attitude, the right skills and the right team around you. 

Empathy is another really big one. You need to know and understand the challenges that people are facing. You must also never give up!

What helps get you through the more challenging times?

I think it helps just knowing that what I am doing is making a difference. 

At Stoke City Council, we are all committed to the children and young people we work with and you can feel that passion. I’ve got an amazing team around me and we work really well together. That kind of support, from both my team and manager, makes such a difference. 

Any success stories you’d like to share?

I worked closely with a young person who had a lot of health issues and things just weren’t happening for him. There were some serious concerns that he may end up in real trouble if he didn’t have support when he turned 18. 

We worked together to push for some funding to get him into the right accommodation when he turned 18. It was a hard slog, but we got there in the end and he’s now doing really well. I’m so proud of him. 

I still keep in touch with him and a lot of my young people when they turn 18, or no longer need a social worker. It’s lovely to see how they’re doing and the progress they’re making.

Any final words?

Entering this profession was the best decision I ever made. Yes, it’s hard work but there’s no other job like it. Every day is different and it can be the most rewarding and most frustrating of jobs at the same time. 

It can be a battle, but I’m going to carry on trying and fighting because at the end of the day it’s all about the children. If you’re passionate about helping people achieve, then being a social worker is your chance to make a difference.

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