What's my job...Social worker for looked-after children

20th January 2006 at 00:00
My role is about improving the life chances of looked-after children, and that means making the most of their time out of as well as in school.

As a parent you try to do things with your children, like take them to the theatre, leisure centre or to a historic site, and you hope some of it will rub off. That is what we're doing with these children.

For me it is the best job in the world because I can have a go at organising just about anything, and most of it is straightforward good fun.

If these children have been rock climbing, or making a meal for dignitaries from the stuff they have grown, or cycled coast-to-coast to raise money for the greyhound rescue centre and been met by a mayor with champagne, or if they're making a giant picture with a world-breaking number of Smarties as we plan to do in Halifax town hall, then that's loads of stuff to talk about with friends; it's a real boost for self-esteem.

Schools tell us these projects have led to improvements in concentration and sociability in these young people.

We have children who are very vulnerable, whose care placements have broken down, but who turn up every Tuesday and Friday to our clubs. I've shared thousands of activities with them for the past five years, and developed an understanding and level of trust that few professionals have.

We have high standards. We expect a lot from them, and they achieve those standards because of this depth of understanding and support.

We run the GCSE in citizenship and preparation for working life for those students who really can't cope with school. When they did the exams last year, a couple of them went missing and we walked the streets until we found them in time. There are huge things going on in their lives but that sends out a strong message of care.

I think this whole-life, whole-service approach will make a difference.

Children with a stable, active background are much more likely to make it to university.

Robert Glover is senior practitioner social worker for the looked-after children education service Calderdale. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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