My journey into social care was very fast-paced; I completed my time at school, college and went straight into university at 18 years old. At first, I did not tell my family I had applied to become a social worker, but they could not be prouder and love to share how their daughter is a social worker.
Being a social worker is all about helping young people and finding the best solution to let them grow. Submitting my application to university was the best decision I could have made; it has led me to work with such a fantastic team supporting our wonderful carers and young people.
My university placement led me to Affinity, where I started as a 20-year-old social work student undertaking my final 100-day university placement. Carole and Denise (Affinity’s founders) were aware that I had been offered a role for another independent fostering agency. Still, they both asked me if I would consider a role as a supervising social worker with them at Affinity. I was thrilled at this offer, to say the least and have not looked back!
It’s been nearly 4 years since I qualified as a social worker, and my journey continues to progress. I continue to work with some fantastic foster carers whose primary goal is to provide a safe space for vulnerable children who need somewhere safe to call home. As a family-owned independent fostering agency, we work together as a team and value our colleagues’ input. Affinity’s ethos is to provide better outcomes for the young people we support. This means that everyone within the Affinity family receives the best support possible, no matter what our job role is.
You may have already read the blog by one of our fantastic senior supervising social workers who made the big move from Essex to Lincolnshire over 10 years ago, but for me, I have only ever known and lived in Essex. Essex is a great place to live and work. There are direct links to London, easy access routes for me to get to Kent, and I can travel on the major motorways to visit people outside of the Essex County. The families I support are scattered across Essex and Kent, meaning I get to experience lovely views and scenic routes on my daily travels, and my job has taught me to be prepared to travel and factor in my journey time. Unfortunately, living in Essex, I find that some of the main roads we drive on can experience horrendous traffic, something which is out of our hands – we will always keep you updated if we’re going to be delayed or are stuck in a traffic jam, and the embracing of online video calls through Zoom or Meet etc. has been one positive out of the last 18 months of Covid.
Throughout the pandemic, much like many social workers, we have all gotten used to the new norm of working from home, using virtual platforms to stay in touch, and working from home had its perks as my three lovely dogs enjoy my company throughout the day. However, as the restrictions eased, we were all eager to get back out to visit our carers and young people. There is nothing like a real face to face catch-up – of course, with us coupled up with PPE and a bottle of hand sanitiser. With face-to-face visits, it’s essential that I give the appropriate amount of time to the carers and young people I’m visiting (sometimes I can be on a visit for 2 to 3 hours, but this is one of the things I love about my job). I enjoy starting my day reading through the foster carer’s recordings, some of which are daily, and the rest are weekly. It is great to see all the children’s activities and any important information that needs to be recorded. Our foster carers understand the importance of recording all information for the children as they will have access to these when they are much older (something I always remind my carers).
Since becoming a Senior Supervising Social Worker, I have taken the role of recruitment lead in Essex & Kent and now have the pleasure of meeting people who are enquiring to foster with us – this is a part of my role I thoroughly enjoy. Being able to share how Affinity support and guide our foster carers, and the additional benefits they provide, such as monthly supervisions, support attending meetings, training, and activities for the carers and young people.
Initial visits are a vital part of becoming a foster carer. These meetings allow us to meet with each other and discuss the realities of fostering and the impact it may have on your home and family dynamics. Being a Supervising Social Worker allows me to share firsthand experience of the support I provide my foster carers and discuss some of the young people they could care for. It is essential that these meetings are open and honest as fostering is a big responsibility for anybody to take on.
All our wonderful foster carers receive around the clock support, us social workers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we even have a manager available for support if required. You really are never on your own in your fostering career.
If you feel that Fostering could be of interest to you and you have a spare bedroom, please do not hesitate to give us a call. If you live in Essex or Kent, I would be happy to arrange a visit to chat about fostering with Affinity.