Interview with Issy on all-things social work

We sat down with Issy, a recently qualified Social Worker in London, about the joys and challenges of her job. We think it's super interesting - and important - to hear different voices within the industry, and are grateful to Issy for her time and thoughts! 


Why did you decide to train as a social worker?

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I didn’t really know what to do next. I enjoyed working with young people, so I got an internship with Barnardo’s, where I worked with prisoners’ children. I really liked being someone the children could talk to without feeling judged. Some of my colleagues at Barnardo’s were social workers and they inspired me to train.  Social work values are about reducing social inequality and supporting those in need and I guess I wanted to do something meaningful, so I applied for the masters.


What has been the most difficult part of the job so far?

I knew before I started that social work is a high pressure job and it can be really emotionally challenging, especially when you hear upsetting experiences, but equally the job can be so rewarding. I think personally it can be hard to ask intrusive questions, but the best thing is to be as honest as possible with the children and families you’re working with.

It can also be difficult to manage when you have some really busy cases, because it takes time away from other tasks and you can feel quite strained with deadlines.


How much do you friends know about your work?

I think my friends know a bit about my work. Obviously I can’t tell them the details about cases because they’re confidential, so having good relationships with your team at work is important because they can empathise with a situation and give advice.

People outside work are often interested in what I do. I’ve met a few people who hadn’t realised how diverse the profession is. Social workers work in three areas - adults, children and mental health, then within those fields there are so many different roles and areas of support. I think people often straightaway think of child protection, but that is only one area of social work.


Do you think you have a different perspective on social work as a young person yourself?

Before I started, I was worried that being young would put me at a disadvantage because perhaps I hadn’t got as much life experience, but I think it has helped me when building relationships with teenagers and young adults, particularly when discussing certain subjects and having the knowledge and experience of things such as social media, has been relatable.


What would you change about social work if you could?

The amount of funding for family support has been cut so much in the last few years, if I could change anything it would definitely be for more supportive services for children and families, to prevent family breakdown before support from children’s services becomes necessary. Areas like mental health also need more funding and there is a huge housing crisis, which has left families homeless, particularly in the London boroughs. 


Eloise Acland