My wife had a very long and stressful day at work yesterday, most days there is some emergency for her team to deal with and there is always a high level of stress involved just somedays you get home and can’t switch off. This is usually as a result of the horrendous acts she has had to read or speak about.
My wife is in that most hated of professions as a social worker, you can guarantee if anything goes wrong with a child and there was ever at some point the slightest involvement with social services everything from that point onwards is there fault. I can honestly say if you knew to what extent and rules and regulations they are governed by you would realise but then that doesn’t make a good story does it. Now I’m not for one second saying they don’t get some things wrong after all they are humans who by design make mistakes. Furthermore they are dealing with humans who by design lie, cheat, cover things up and deceive. To give you an indication of some of the pressures they face we live in a rural area, my wife works for the emergency safeguarding team of one part of that area and it is believed we are in a quieter part of the UK. Nonetheless she has in the 4 years she has been working as a social worker been responsible for safeguarding over 1,600 children, and she is one of 10 in her team alone and there must be 4 others in Norfolk at least. This can range from a school referring in neglect, a friend or neighbour calling in with an anonymous tip off of violence in the home to a doctor reporting signs of physical abuse. I guess the real important thing to get from here is that her team aren’t mind readers and do not just descend willy nilly on a doorstep. There has to be a referral that is assessed and then investigations commence.
As a husband it scares me that at some cases she works with the police who turn up sometimes in twos and always in knife vests with a utility belt batman would be proud of. My wife and her colleagues arrive armed with pen, paper and a mobile phone and most of the time alone. So you can understand days she is late home I worry. Yesterday was a 15 hour day and obviously I was worried. We had an evening planned that went out of the window and she didn’t see our LG all day, leaving before she was up and returning after bedtime. Instead she was working on the safety of other families instead of seeing her own. It is this sort of sacrifice that goes unnoticed. I knew she was worried and stressed when she got home but by that time her managers were all home, phones off enjoying their weekends. She cannot speak to me about the cases that would be a serious breach of the data protection act instead she has to sit there stewing knowing if anything happens over the weekend her name is assigned and her reputation will be dragged through the mud. I knew she was stressing and worrying but there was very little I could do, she had tea watched a programme and went to bed. I went and laid with her for a while knowing it was increasing my pain but had to do something.
When she got up this morning she had a stress headache, these frequently turn into migraines and it’s always as a result of worrying about other families. Does this sound like the uncaring people you frequently hear about in the press. I thought I’d help and take the pressure off her. I forced the pain to make breakfast for us all and then I decided to shave my own head in the shower so she didn’t have to. This is where things backfired on me. Not only did I cut myself I got stuck on my shower seat.
Having tried unsuccessfully several times to get up I had to bite the bullet and shout for help. My wife then had to help get me out of the shower, dry me, dress me and then get our LG through the shower. My good deed backfired and I ended up creating more work for my wife. This is why I hate my pain so much, even when you try and do something nice it ends up being a disaster. Fortunately on this occasion my wife’s migraine tablets have helped and her headache has gone. If you know someone well though you know when their mind is elsewhere and hers still is and will be all weekend until she can do something about it on Monday. So there you go, good deeds and chronic pain don’t go hand in hand and not all social workers, in fact very few social workers don’t care, or switch off and the mistakes are more often than not a result of being overworked. We all like to think horrible things don’t happen to children very often but the reality is it does and without people referring in my wife is powerless to help, even with referrals they can sometimes be powerless and they for the most part worry all the time. It is no wonder most burn out so quickly. I know I couldn’t do her job and read and hear the things she has to without going crazy or on a spree of cleansing!