We are often asked…Why do we do it? Why help families in need? The answer is simple really; we do it because ‘We Care.’
By the time families are referred to our Service, they are often on a downward spiral, unable to cope with multitude of issues with everyday life and have not received previous support and guidance to put them back on track.
So, what is a typical day like, I hear you ask. A Family Support Worker’s (FSW) day can vary immensely; this will be down to the caseload and the intensity of support required by the families open to the FSW. The following will offer a better understanding of having such a varied role as a FSW, as well as the significant positive outcome it has on many families.
It’s an early start for the FSW today. Following on from a previous home visit and a conversation with mum and the two children; the FSW had agreed to support mum with morning routines. There had been previous issues in getting the children to School on time, often; the children would be forced to miss breakfast because mum was under pressure from the School and a warning letter had been issued with a possible fine and legal panel, if this continued. The FSW had come prepared with morning routine charts for both children, these had been adapted to suit the appropriate age range, one being pictures instead of words. Of course, there were stickers, all young children love stickers.
Arriving at the family home at 7:15am to allow time for a brief chat with mum and to show the children their new charts is essential. After the FSW has gone through everything and ensured the children understood their responsibilities and the rewards of stickers, it’s time to get started. Whilst the children are getting dressed amongst other things, FSW suggests mum gets up before the children, allowing her time to get herself ready, ensuring uniforms are out, lunch boxes are prepared and breakfast is available, thus allowing mum time to help the children, where needed. Both children then come running downstairs to be rewarded with stickers to place on their morning charts. During breakfast, FSW demonstrates positive praise to the children, these highlight to mum that mornings can be a calm and happy place, something that is usually quite rare. A normal morning would be rushed with a lot of shouting and negative response from the children. Not a good start of the day for anyone.
At 8:30am, the last stickers are placed on the charts, with mum and children ready to walk to School. No late marks today, no children going into School without breakfast. Finally, FSW agreed to be round the next morning, but slightly later, to monitor how things are going without her presence from the start.
Next stop, the FSW heads to local Council Office; a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) had been requested after another family had received a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) due to rent arrears. The Family are facing eviction and this needs to be prevented. Relevant documents had been completed by the FSW and the parent; these were now being submitted to the Council. The FSW will also be supporting the parent in Court to request a ‘stay’ in the property, this is after addressing a few non priority debts and requesting affordable payment plans.
With this completed, FSW receives a text message for another mum, her benefits have been stopped and there is no food for the children until this is sorted. FSW makes a call to the local Foodbank, requesting an urgent collection of basic food items. FSW then drives to the foodbank, collects the items and delivers them to the family in need. The FSW suggests the mum call the benefit office to find out why benefits have cease and if there were any issues then the FSW would call them also later in the day.
Finally, a spare half an hour to write up brief notes on the day so far, before heading to a School where a Team around the Family (TAF) meeting is being held. As the lead professional, the FSW would have invited relevant professionals. Previous actions would have been added and an updated family plan would have been shared with the family and professionals alike. The FSW agrees to meet the mum outside the School gates, mum is always anxious about going into School, she feels intimidated by staff. FSW reassures mum that everything will be fine, they will sit next to each other and that she is there to support her and the children.
The TAF meeting goes really well. Improvements are being made in School, the children’s attendance percentage is increasing, with only a minimal amount of absences, mum has registered the children with the dentist, previous debt is being managed and mum has completed one of the Parenting courses, following a referral by the FSW. Mum is praised for her consistent approach, she begins to cry. Tissues at the ready… it’s not only stickers FSW’s have in abundance.
Before heading back to base, the FSW makes a call to a local charity to request support for a single bed for another family who has a young child with medical/toileting issues. The previous bed had to be thrown out due to being in such a poor state and now the young child is sleeping on a blow up mattress. Parents are unable to buy a new bed due to them both having poor mental health and receiving benefits. Charity agreed to provide a new bed as well as a waterproof cover. The FSW give the family a quick call to say that the bed will be delivered within the next couple of days.
Back at base, the FSW completes relevant updates on the secure system, reflects on the day and plans the workload and resources for tomorrow…..
Do you really think the FSW would do this in a typical day, if they didn’t ‘care?’