Meet Hannah Roberts, Social Worker at Shropshire Council. Here she talks about her role, some of the challenges lockdown has presented and what it means as we ease out of lockdown for families and children.
Hannah works in case management, looking after child in need plans, child protection plans and looked after processes. She works with families at different levels in Shropshire – every day is different – doing everything she can to make sure children are accessing the right education and families have the right support. She says, “The ultimate aim is to do everything we can to provide the right support in order for families to stay together.”
Hannah absolutely loves the direct work with families and children. She says, “The challenge is the behind-the-scenes paperwork. It is such an essential part of the role but so very time consuming.”
How Hannah is helping children and families?
Hannah shares a few examples of how her team has helped children and families. The case load is diverse that is for sure. One example, is her work with a teenager who was in the depths of exploitation and was at risk of County Lines – she worked with him for a couple of months. She says, “It was incredibly difficult to build a relationship with him. He was being exploited so it was really contradictory for him to build a relationship with a social worker.”
He got arrested for having with cocaine on him and there were lots of incidences that led to the team saying that couldn’t help him whilst at home. He got taken to court and because he was a teenager he was represented himself – he pulled it around, he got GCSEs, settled where he was living, he opened up about what happened in the lead up to him being exploited.
Hannah says, “I think the ways I have best worked with families and children is when I can get them to believe in themselves to make the changes, and this was one of those times.
“I know I can’t wave a magic wand to make things better for children and families. What I am there to do is give them the tools and support they need to make positive change.”
What opportunity is there to do improve things?
Hannah says, “As a social worker I feel I am listened to – I share my views and voice what needs to change to improve things. But a huge challenge we face, like most regions, is time – there are so many families and children in need of our support this remains a problem.”
She talks about the challenge that comes with virtual visits and those families who would not normally be classed as ‘at risk’: “Whilst moving to virtual visits throughout the pandemic has had benefits in terms of freeing up time we would otherwise be using to travel this new way of working also creates many challenges.
“I really have struggled with sitting with a different type of risk because we don’t get the whole picture and are not able to observe people together in quite the same way. This makes it more difficult to carry out a proper risk assessment.”
Hannah says it will be interesting to see what happens as lockdown eases, “We know parents are feeling under immense pressure, trying to home school and continuing work. How this has really impacted children is yet to be seen but I think it is likely that we will see a change, with some children who we’d never have seen before coming into our service.
“Many children whose parents were working before had wrap around care. They are now at home 24/7 with working parents – it’s a pressure cooker and we need to be prepared to help families and children who need support.”
Having a strong team is so important to Hannah. She says, “We are a really strong team and support each other when we need to – we can ask each other for help and we are all on hand to answer questions.”
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