Meet Paul Wareham, Supervising Social Worker in the Fostering Team at Sandwell Children’s Trust. We caught up with him to find out how he got into social work and what it is he loves about his role.
Paul’s journey started after he was involved in a massive traffic accident. He was a lorry driver at the time and had been since leaving the army – the accident put him in hospital, he was unable to move and could only hear and see.
During his time in hospital, he saw how elderly people were being treated, especially when they were discharged. It got him questioning himself – what could he do to help?
He knew he didn’t want to be a nurse and then he saw lots of adverts to be a Social Worker in 2005. He looked at different routes into social care – he started an open university health and social care course, then an Access to Social Work course.
After a little break to have surgery he went to Birmingham City University to study. He started studying Adult Mental Health, Adult Safeguarding but when he joined year two it was clear he wanted to specialise in child social work.
During his third year he did a placement at Sandwell, which he describes as his adopted home. In 2013, Paul qualified and joined the Step Up Students cohort on a three month contract, where he moved from Care Management to Care Leavers then ultimately to Fostering.
We asked Paul what he loves about working where he does
Paul says, “I have a real passion for Fostering. The variety is huge and you get to work with such a range of people – working with children, adults, Social Worker’s and foster families.”
He enjoys delivers training and undertakes assessments – getting to know people, their histories and their lives.
Paul loves seeing things change for the better and feeling he is making a positive impact.
Commenting on his team he says, “Everyone is invested in working hard to make a difference. The management team are fantastic – they are really approachable and supportive and ultimately we feel valued as employees. I feel part of a family here at Sandwell.”
Paul tells us how lockdown has changed the way he works
Lockdown has changed the way Paul works. He says, “Where before I would make an appointment and visit families; Covid means I must consider people in my own household as well as those in the clients. There have been occasions where I have had to virtual visits, although I have kept these at a minimum, which is always a choice made between me and the client.”
Paul has found that many clients have adapted well to the new way of digital communication and says things have run quite smoothly.
He says, “I have been able to continue delivering training throughout the lockdown. It was a little difficult in the early months but now we have the right software it’s relatively seamless. I am delivering the training regularly and it is running at intervals of six weeks – being able to continue to deliver training regularly means we are able to keep the flow of new foster carers at a steady rate.”
Paul explains whilst being away from the wider team has been challenging it has also brought them much closer. He says, “My team had only just form as a unit when lockdown began. Just prior to leaving the office we created a WhatsApp group, and this has been a brilliant tool for us. I believe had we just been in the office we would not have bonded so well, or it may have taken longer to do so. We have become a very close team and we work incredibly well together.”
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