For a brief back story again in case you’re new here, in my younger years I spent 3 years living in a home of extreme domestic violence and abuse around my mother and her partner. The only good thing to come from this was my 2 younger siblings, born when I was around 10 and 12/13 (I am bad at math). We were all removed from my mother and her partners care and sent to live with our grandmother. Sadly, after a few years social work decided to send my siblings back, only for us to find out earlier in 2017 that the violence had been continuing on for many years.
For the first (of many) examples of social work failures I have to share, I will keep it simple. Around 2 years ago, I became concerned when my sister had mentioned her daddy getting angry a lot and having to hide. Of course, this rang alarm bells for me so I decided to report this to social work.
I found the number for reporting online and rang straight away. When somebody answered the phone, it seemed like I had come through to a call centre. The woman on the phone took my brother and sisters details and asked me for a very brief summary of my concerns.
Now, to briefly summarise my mother and her partners relationship and the long history along with the reasons I was worried about my brother and sister to a complete stranger was not an easy task. Not to mention, this woman could easily mishear me over the phone or forget to type some important details. I tried to summarise as best as I could. I was told it would be passed on and that was that.
Weeks passed and I had still not received a call or any contact from a social worker. When my brother and sister visited, they had not mentioned anybody coming to see them or anything of the sort. So, I decided to call back. Again, I didn’t get through to a social worker. The lady on the phone merely told me she could not tell me anything and that was that.
I understand confidentiality, but as someone that had lived in that same household of abuse for many years and was concerned for my own brother and sister’s well being, I found it peculiar that nobody had been in contact to allow me to voice my concerns more in depth. All they had from me was a brief summary, given over the phone. If this had been investigated further or someone had taken time to get a non-brief description of concerns, then perhaps the damage could have been halted. This is just one of many opportunities that were missed to protect my brother and sister.
I would also like to note that I am not personally attacking everyday social workers themselves and I put the blame on lack of funding and regulation of social work which I will make time to research in detail to address in a future blog post.
If you have any similar stories to share, please get in touch. Like I said, this is one example of many from my own experiences so I’m certain there will be many more stories out there.