Valbona graduated with a degree in social work from Reading University and currently works in the Community Care Response and Assessment Team with adults for a local authority.
I am originally from Kosovo and was inspired to become a social worker as a direct result of my family's positive experience with social services when I entered the UK. I wanted to give something back and make a positive difference to people's lives.
Prior to entering the UK, I worked as a science teacher but my qualifications were not recognised in the UK so I had to start again. I completed an access course with psychology, sociology, maths and biology as subject options and then applied successfully for a place on the BA (Hons) Social Work course. The course provided a good balance of theory and practice. Experience gained from placements play a key role in job search. During my course I completed three placements within the statutory sector, each reflecting my areas of interest. I also completed a Diploma in psychodynamic counselling part time at London University alongside my degree.
In my third year, I was approached by the local authority where I completed my final placement and took up an offer of a two-year contract. Most people on my course were offered jobs within their final placement. There is a demand for qualified social workers, particularly within children services.
Most of my day is spent working with vulnerable individuals, for example people with physical disabilities, brain injuries, people hospitalised and in need of assistance to live independently or in alternative accommodation.
We are a frontline service so I deal with referrals from both individuals and various professionals such as hospital doctors, GPs, district nurses and psychologists. Once a referral is made I work in partnership with the client, carrying out an assessment of social care needs, which takes into account factors such as physical and mental health. Based on the assessment I propose a care package, arrange for the plans to be put in place, then monitor and review the care package. All the skills and knowledge gained on my course, such as interviewing, gathering and analysing information, anti-oppressive practice and social policy, come into play. Due to current legislation, my role is service user led - more choice is given to clients, and safeguarding adults is high on the agenda.
In future, I would like to work in the leaving care team for children aged 12 and over. There are many opportunities for social workers to move across teams.
The job can be quite stressful. There are limited funds available for client support and I often have a high caseload so have to prioritise in accordance with client need. I also occasionally have to deal with verbally abusive clients.
The job is also very rewarding. I most enjoy helping people, working with a varied client group and witnessing positive outcomes. I strongly recommend choosing varied placements to provide firsthand experience in areas of interest, which is vital before entering employment.
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