Patch office door

    A N N I E   M A R S H

Jan Annie Pete   87 Patch office door

I really fell into social work as I had a year off in the middle of my degree as my mother was seriously ill. I was offered the job of social work assistant to the blind and loved it. On completion of my degree I got a job as a social work trainee for the London Borough of Camden where I was for 6 years, including two seconded years while I did my training. On moving to Sheffield I worked for 32 years in the Adoption team.

I have chosen the Patch office door because …

… it reflects a moment in the history of social work in England. No 52 Doughty Street WC1 was the Patch office for the southernmost part of Camden. Three teams, three small geographical areas. We covered all client groups following the Seebohm reforms and were ‘generic social workers’ – community workers one day, dealing with fostering the next, or mental health issues.

We did know our areas well and could respond to changes such as the arrival of Bangladeshi families joining their menfolk who worked in the restaurants. The families were helped by a community programme to manage the change from rural life to settling in the heart of London. Then there was the “posh” club that tried to connect lonely, increasingly disabled academics who lived in isolating bedsits. Our caseloads included cradle to grave and if I am honest the young families I had on my caseload got a better deal than other client groups as that was where my interest lay. What was great was having resources such as the council-run home help service in the same building, so a quick journey up or down the stairs could lead to finding out how someone was getting on after a hospital stay. Not many clients had phones and had to be contacted by letter.

Now social work is specialised and a family can have different social workers involved depending on the needs of people in the household. No doubt there will be calls for a more joined up approach.

… And the door at Number 52 now leads to commercial offices for literary agents. Times change.

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