By Vickie Lee
A student in the social care sector, Vickie Lee from Bradford University shares with us her story, passion and professionalism.
“I can only speak from a health and social care standpoint when talking about experience as this is my area of both academic and personal interest. However, many of the points I will make in these posts will be relevant to all sectors and should be something you digest and utilise.
I worked with children raised in difficult environments, and by this, I mean those whose parents cared more about the bottle of vodka under the kitchen sink than how they were going to feed this child and their brothers and sisters. It broke my heart on a regular basis to see how neglected they had become, how thin they were, how damaged their clothes were. You cannot let your emotions get in the way, take it from me, my mother died from alcoholic liver disease and now I work with drug addicts and alcoholics. I cannot let my own emotions cloud my judgement and if you feel they might you need to ask yourself if this is really the field or study or experience you should even be doing. They don’t need sympathy, they already have this for themselves in bucket loads, what they need is a support network who will never let them down, who will never turn their back on them and who will never ignore them for their own feelings.
Now, I was raised by a family who had money, not a lot of it but we could afford a holiday each year and nice clothes because my parents worked hard for what they had achieved. I don’t like the stereotype that only children are spoilt, I am an only child but not by my parents’ choice. I still don’t ask for money at the age of twenty-six and have never taken advantage of them, despite only being left with my father since my mother passed away. This fortunate lifestyle made me feel incredibly guilty when I worked with these children who had nothing; not even an emotion. They were dragged up and had no concept of what true love and affection is and if you believe statistics in medical and social care journals, they may grow up to be in co-dependent, violent and drug-addled relationships as they grow up. It’s a very sad fact that this even occurs in this day and age.
I made it my job to provide a safe place for them to play, interact, create, and grow. I never interfered with their time in this place (a local community centre we had hired a few nights each week). This is a huge deal when working with both adults and children who are vulnerable. You need to leave them alone. You need to wait for them to come to you, show them you are not a threat and you are someone they can rely on to be sitting there in a corner reading a magazine if they need you. They will warm to you if you portray the correct attitude and body language. Do not get frustrated that it isn’t going your way and you cannot talk to these people, this is not for you to decide!
Being judgemental is the biggest reason many applicants get rejected. You have to be able to accept rejection and criticism. Which employer or organisation wants a volunteer, student on placement or employee who is going to constantly judge and belittle those they are supposed to be working with just to get a time sheet signed at the end of the week? Answer: NONE. You need to be able to communicate with anyone whether you agree with their life choices or not. I get abuse from some people for being tattooed. Do I ignore it and get on with my day? Of course I do, that’s their opinion and they are fully entitled to it and I’m a big enough person to rise above it and move on. The more vulnerable individuals within our societies might not have the same reactions; some might be violent, some may shy away and drown themselves in a pit of depression, some may relapse and turn to the one thing they can depend on: drugs. You cannot be the reason that someone picks up a habit again, period.”
Interested in working in the Social Care sector, read the following article https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/about/working-social-care