My Social Work Story Series: NQSW’s journey to Social Work

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My Social Work Story Series: NQSW’s journey to Social Work

A newly qualified social worker tells us what her journey to social work looked like.

I completed my first degree in social welfare in 2003, going to university away from home straight after school. I then worked for a local authority in their homelessness team. I had four babies, returning to work after each one. After the last, I requested part time which couldn’t be accommodated, so I made the decision to have some time out. I spent 18 months ‘just’ being Mum, but felt my brain turning to mush!

I needed a change

Training as a volunteer family support worker and breastfeeding support worker over this time, made me think I was initially interested in midwifery. Unsuccessful in that application route; I started working for StepChange the debt charity but struggled with the phone/office based nature of the job. Deciding I definitely needed a change, I discussed my qualifications with a few universities, asking what would be required to apply for their social work programmes. I was lucky enough to be offered an interview at LJMU for their next intake. I had the interview on a Thursday and was offered a place on the Friday, starting just 8 weeks later!

I was shaking like a leaf on the first day, but also super excited. During the first week, our cohort voted on the candidates for student rep and I was pulled out the hat! I’ve mostly acted as a go-between for the students and staff but have also worked to improve the cohort experience.

Social work is not the only hat I wear

My for children were all primary age when I started and I have to travel an hour into Uni – so it’s long days! I usually settle everyone into bed, make a coffee then get started on work around 9pm and working until the early hours. I’ve found the different kind of stress really enjoyable and motivating. I also have the attitude that although this is a career, I am deeply passionate about and I want to put everything I can into it, I recognise that it isn’t the only hat I wear. At the end of the day, my children are my priority. This means I have to schedule and plan my day to the minute. I don’t waste time, because I don’t have it! And its working, I’m doing really well.

Its not all stress and deadlines

The December after starting, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, joint hypermobility syndrome and osteo arthritis. It really shook me and took a while to come to terms with. Having my first placement definitely helped distract me but added to the stress and fatigue associated with the conditions, so I had a rough few months. I relied on support from tutors and got assessed by the Uni disability team and provided with practical equipment and support to aid my studies. I’m very grateful for that. I am coming to the end now; I’ve completed one placement, all lectures, undertaken the research for my dissertation, and I have started my final placement. I am torn between feeling excited about reaching the end and starting the next stage in my career, and never wanting to leave Uni as I have loved it so much! I’d love for someone to think they could give it a go after reading my story, it’s not all stress and deadlines and no money!

I’d love for someone to think they could give it a go after reading my story, its not all stress and deadlines and no money!

Written by an anonymous NQSW Social Worker.

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