Case study

Social worker — Andy Winfield

Andy made the move from teaching to social work and now gains great satisfaction from helping families and watching them progress

How did you get your job?

After leaving university I was teaching science in a secondary school. I really enjoyed working with kids, however as a teacher I felt frustrated that I was unable to help the children in areas that I felt they most needed support, for example, in their home lives.

Many of the children I taught were studying for their GCSEs while dealing with challenges such as family breakdown, parental substance misuse or domestic violence.

I wanted to transition to a role where I could work with families in a one-on-one environment. I discovered Frontline and immediately knew this was the programme I was looking for so I applied straight away.

What's a typical day like as a social worker?

In the morning I could be chairing a meeting at a school and then I could go straight to a home visit with a vulnerable mother who is experiencing difficulties with mental health.

Following this it could be back to the office for lunch and to type up some notes before going to visit a family with a new baby to help support them in meeting their baby's needs.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Seeing a family make progress gives me an immense amount of satisfaction. One family I worked with had a teenage girl who stopped attending school, started going missing from home and became involved in criminal activity. It took a long time before I felt I was able to develop a connection with her, but by the time I had finished working with the family she was doing well on a college course.

Knowing how much she progressed gave me a real kick that will stay with me for a long time.

What are the challenges?

Accepting that there are some families who you may not be able to help is something that I constantly battle with. Unfortunately, there are some families who may not be in a position to change or who do not respond as well as you would like to the help you give.

It can also be hard when you feel a family has made progress but then a couple of months later you hear that a further incident has occurred, which results in the changes not being sustained.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree was in physics, so I don't really use any of the specific knowledge I learned. That being said I still use my degree every day in the shape of the transferable skills I gained.

What are your career ambitions?

I believe I will have the opportunity to progress and to assist other social workers and to contribute to a discussion about which tools should be included in the social work skillset, however I am content in getting better at using the skills I have learned so far.

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