I joined SafeNet in October 2020 as a newly appointed Children and Young People’s Worker (CYP). I applied for this opportunity because I was ready for a new challenge and I was keen to return to working with children and families after a period working within adult mental health.
From the day of my interview, I was made to feel welcome and already like I was part of a team. The interview panel took an interest in my previous experience and asked questions about my strengths and what I felt I could bring to the role. The application and interview process left me feeling positive, valued, and excited about the prospect of working for SafeNet.
I have been in my role for four weeks now, and already I can see the hard work and dedication that goes into the daily running of a refuge that provides 24-hour support to residents and their children.
Women who come to refuge often have complex needs and require support with a variety of issues and I have witnessed the support staff do an excellent job of ensuring that each resident is respected, listened to, and supported to move forward. The refuge also has experienced specialist staff onsite and I am looking forward to working alongside these colleagues who are passionate about achieving positive outcomes for the people they work with.
Many women fleeing domestic abuse arrive at the refuge with their children, and often very few belongings. I knew my new role would be challenging, I perhaps underestimated the work undertaken by CYP workers within a refuge.
As a CYP worker, I help children settle into the refuge on arrival, ensuring they have clothes and other accessories as well as a welcome pack that includes a soft cuddly toy. I support mums to enrol their children at school and I liaise with pupil access and local primary and secondary schools to ensure that children are not out of education for any longer than necessary. CYP workers also try to source school uniforms for families on a low budget either from our refuge donations or from the school’s second-hand stock. I liaise with other agencies including Children’s Social Care, Health Visitors and support mums to register their children with the local GP and dentist.
I will soon be delivering a 12-week trauma-based programme to each of my allocated children within the refuge. Tailoring the material and delivery method depending on their age. These one-to-one sessions will enable children to build up rapport and a trusting relationship with me. Providing opportunities for them to express their thoughts and feelings, both verbally and through creative methods.
Within my role, I also provide childcare support so that mums at the refuge can attend groups or 1-1 sessions. This child-free time is vital for the mums. As every parent knows, getting to drink a brew that is still hot is an achievement, let alone trying to focus on their and their childs recovery. Mums may also need to attend appointments with social workers, interviews with police etc. We are there to ensure that the women are free to speak about often distressing events without their children present.
I am working closely with mums who have asked for support and guidance with their parenting skills. I am supporting them to put appropriate strategies in place to deal with challenging behaviour. We discuss different techniques while remembering the importance of boundaries and consistency in shaping behaviour. By empowering women as parents, it helps them build up positive relationships with their children and builds stronger attachments.
I have also enjoyed delivering group sessions with the children, although this has been restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19, along with lockdown restrictions, has created many extra challenges for the refuge, residents and staff. Everyone has pulled together and adapted to change to ensure that the refuge can remain open and SafeNet can continue to deliver this essential service.
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