S H E I L A S L E S S E R
My name is Sheila Slesser and I am a lecturer in social work at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Before joining RGU I worked within a voluntary organisation that held statutory responsibilities for the Deaf and Hearing impaired community. I carried a ‘generic’ caseload and had great opportunities to meet and work with a wide variety of service users. Current roles within the university include leading the Practice Learning Qualification which allows the opportunity to get out and about engaging with social workers who are keen to become involved in practice teaching.
I chose this model of Postman Pat because …
… he (I call him Patrick) was hand crafted by one of my sons (now aged 35) when he was 5 or 6 years old. Patrick came to work with me and has been a permanent feature on my desk for around 29 years. Throughout my social work career I have had Patrick with me as a constant reminder that although I have been duty bound to take the needs of other people’s children as being paramount, within my personal life ‘my own boys’ always had priority. Managing child care and protection issues as a professional worker and balancing this with my own parenting was always a complicated process which invariably involved issues of guilt and self-doubt. Guilt regarding the ‘mum’ space in my head being used to think about child care cases when I was at home being a mum, and self-doubt around the assessment of what was ‘good enough’ parenting for the children I was working with. Patrick is symbolic of this emotional experience and is also a reminder that although social work can never be termed a 9 – 5 job, it is okay to have a life as well!
Patrick has been through the wars (his head now rests on a bed of blu-tack) and he has moved home on a number of occasions. He now finds himself on a desk within a university and his constancy underpins current practice of supporting emerging social workers around the need to access supervision support, manage boundaries and balance that, often precarious equation, of work and life.