‘Step-Up To Social Work (Cohort 4)’ – 10 Objects
We would like to contribute to the 40 Objects in Social Work Project so that we can capture the essence of the sum of our parts as a group. We have collated our stories alongside objects that had and have meaning to us individually, whilst acknowledging that we are in fact a group of student social workers on a journey together as well as separately. Each one of us came to social work for a reason and these reasons, implicit and explicit, are in some way reflected in the objects of choice and the narrative that we have assigned to them as we now reach the end of this stage of our professional training. We hope that the openness and honesty of our contribution to the project provides other students with hope and the motivation to keep going, even when the going gets tough.
Caroline, Becky, Katie, Helen, Fauz, Laura, Kimberley, Lydia, Debbie, Mary – who in total make up the ‘Step-Up To Social Work (Cohort 4)’.
Caroline – My original object was a world globe, as I was preparing to go on a journey and whilst I wasn’t sure where the destination would be, I imagined that journey would take me to all sorts of places along the way. The course has definitely started that journey, although it took me a while to leave the safety of what I was familiar with and transition into the social work role. As I come to the end of the course, I feel a map perhaps better reflects my experience so far, in that the course has given me the opportunity to develop the foundation of knowledge, skills and practice experiences from which to navigate my social work career, and as the environment I am working in will change, a map better reflects how I need to navigate and journey within practice, as opposed to seeking to reach a specific destination.
Helen – At the start of my journey into social work, the object I chose to represent how I felt was an iceberg, it was not something I could hold, it’s possibly a bit abstract but to me it was a metaphor for how I felt at the start. The iceberg is still relevant to me now, coming towards the ending of my training. Initially I felt the iceberg represented me, what could be seen above the surface of the water was me, sunny with optimism about my new career, what I could bring from my experiences teaching and from life in general. Everything under the water was what I hoped to uncover on my journey that I would need to develop and make the transition – the skills and knowledge, the theoretical perspectives, the policy and legislation and experience. To a great extent I feel the iceberg is far more exposed above the surface now but I’ve come to realise there will always be a hidden part of the iceberg – the days you experience something totally new, the new people I will meet on my journey, the uncertainty around decisions, the mistakes I will inevitably make and importantly I’m ok with this and it keeps the journey interesting and exciting!
Laura – I can’t remember the object I chose when I started the step up programme. However, my ‘object’ now would be my voice. When I started the programme I struggled to find my confidence and believe in my abilities to make a difference to others lives. Now I know that I have a voice, it is strong, passionate and makes a difference – reflected back in feedback from both professionals and service users. I am going to continue my journey through my career and intend to continue to speak up, make changes and stand up for those who have lost their own voice until they find it again.
Fauz – My social work object was a jigsaw with a piece missing. I honestly thought that I could complete that jigsaw but have recognised through the journey both on the academic side and from a practice perspective that learning is never ending. Social work does not stand still as we all know, however you only get a true realisation of it having lived and breathed it for over a year of your life. I guess there is not just one jigsaw, there are hundreds and thousands and somewhere I will continue piecing them together through my academic journey and into the professional journey and beyond.
Becky – My original object was an onion. Looking back, it should’ve been one of those onions that have been in the vegetable rack too long and has sprouted shoots. When I reflect back, the onion metaphor still resonates – layers of interconnected issues that without each other the onion itself wouldn’t exist. The shoots are now part of this as it shows how this onion layers lead to new onions – new thoughts that are borne out of previous knowledge but interact with fresh ideas and developing my understanding of social work in the context of different disciplines, cultures and, ultimately, the lives of individuals.
Lydia Blue bear
Lydia – My object at the start of my journey was my blue bear, he was my mascot that came on all journeys with me. He’s a bear that is an individual, has his own identity and demonstrates consistency. He’s carried on being with me throughout my training and will continue to be, going forward.
Mary – My object would be my old and beat up car … it carries me to my professional self, to support to the children that I work with … worry over … the place where my uncertainty is articulated, my emotions and frustrations overflow and where I can stop, take deep breaths and try to make sense of what I am doing as a student social worker. As my beat up car breaks down regularly so I see this as a metaphor for myself … being taken in for repair, being fixed and renewed by those that know more, have vision and the tools to know how to make me work as a social worker again. The physical and emotional journey I take with my car and in my car maps my social work journey to qualification ….
Debbie Juggling balls / bottle of medicine
Debbie – My starting object was juggling balls and I talked about the task ahead and juggling placement, uni and life how I would manage it and the challenge. It was very much about the practical issues and how I would manage them. My finishing object is this bottle of medicine. I really like Harry Ferguson’s work on professional touch. I have tried to use this theory in my social work placement. Making sure I am present with children in their situation. However, this resulted in me having to take some medicine before Christmas. I feel my journey has moved to and fro from the practical to the personal.
Kimberley Paper tool
Kimberley – I made a paper tool incorporating the skills I thought I brought, the skills I thought I needed to develop, and the things I thought made a good social worker. I have used this multi-dimensional tool in direct work with children as a way of separating how they feel, why they feel this and the impact this has on them. I have not named this tool, instead I ask each child to name it and so far it has been called things such as ‘beak’, a ‘fortune teller’ and a ‘play mouth’ – each name signifies the ability this tool has for the child to have a voice. My tool, therefore, depicts my voice and the voice of the child.
Katie ‘To Do’ lists
Katie – Prior to this journey I used ‘To Do’ lists in all areas of my life. Having dyslexia this method of being organised enabled me to highlight and tick off each task – and almost became like a security blanket. However … I came to realise that life in social work is not that easy, it always seems there is a never-ending TO-DO LIST which can cause stress and feelings of anxiousness. My social work journey has taught me that I am not superwoman and that as much as I want and aspire to tick off and complete all my tasks it’s not always possible. Learning to prioritise has been key to me completing tasks.