Region’s care leavers reveal how children’s social workers helped change their lives for the better
Published 2 months ago
CSWM news

Care leavers from Yorkshire and the Humber have described how the support they received from their social workers has helped them transform their lives.

Rae Sloan, Ryan Branson, Sam* and TJ Austin have all come forward to share their positive, first-hand experiences of the care system during Social Work Week (18-22 March) and World Social Work Day (19 March), with Rae and Ryan also appearing in an online video. In doing so, they are hoping to raise awareness about the profession and encourage others to take up the role, whilst challenging some of the misconceptions towards children’s social workers and towards those who, like them, have been in need of their help. 

Rae Sloan was placed into the care of Sheffield City Council at the age of 12. Despite the trauma she went through, she says the kindness, encouragement and support she received from one of her children’s social workers, helped her come to terms with her past and find her way in life. Now 26, Rae is a Voice and Influence worker for Sheffield City Council, ensuring that young residents in the city are heard and says that life could not be better. Read More

Sam* fled to the UK ten years ago from Afghanistan aged just 13, alone, and in fear for his life, after witnessing his Father being killed in an unprovoked attack. After being placed under the care of Kirklees Council’s Children’s Services, Sam met children’s social worker, John*, who, for the next five years, took him under his wing and supported him in moving forward with his life. And whilst nothing could ever replace the father he lost, Sam has described John as both a hero and a father figure. Read More

Ryan Branson was placed into foster care with Wakefield Council at the age of ten after experiencing periods of neglect, domestic violence and emotional abuse in the family home. Now 23, he’s turning the positive experiences he had with his children’s social workers – who he says played a pivotal role in his life - towards a career in children’s social work. Read More

21-year old TJ is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his life following a recent move to Pickering with his girlfriend. As a trained Barista, his love of both coffee and his customers, have led to aspirations of him one day owning his own coffee shop. But anyone meeting TJ for the first time would never know the challenges he’s overcome. At the age of two he was placed under the care of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Children’s Services as a result of neglect. He was later adopted by a local couple but was then faced with the break-up of their marriage, the untimely death of his Dad and attachment issues with his Mum, before he went back into the care system at the age of 17.

He says that had children’s social workers not intervened at various points in his life when they had, and had he not received ongoing guidance from the local authority’s support services, he would not be here to tell his story. Read More

The week-long, national social worker campaign is being backed by all 15 of the region’s Local Authority children’s services departments. For the past 12 years, they have been working collaboratively as part of the Children’s Social Work Matters (CSWM) programme, which has helped the region to consistently achieve lower-than-national-average vacancy, agency worker and turnover rates.

Carly Speechley, Children’s Social Work Matters Lead and Barnsley Council’s Executive Director of Children’s Services, said:

“Children’s social workers up and down the country are helping to shape and change the lives of vulnerable children, young people and their families for the better, often under the most desperate of circumstances. 

“But a lot of the positive work we do is not known about and it might surprise people to learn about the many wide-ranging, diverse aspects of the role. In essence our job is about protecting vulnerable children, making sure their voices are heard and that they are safe, well and seen. This can range from making sure that children in care are involved in decisions about their future, to supporting their transition into independent living.

“Placing a child into foster care is always a last resort. Our goal is to try and keep families together wherever possible, so we also work closely with at-risk families, getting to understand their lives and wishes and working out their needs, so that they too can access the right help and support where it’s needed.

 These are just some of the ways in which children’s social workers can help transform lives and it is those positive outcomes that make the job so worthwhile and so immensely rewarding. The care leavers fronting our campaign are best placed to talk about the work we do; not only do they have first-hand experience about how they’ve been supported by us, they also represent the many thousands of people we work with. We hope that by sharing their stories, they can help break down some of the barriers and misconceptions that exist and spark the interest of those who think they have the right skills and qualities to help a family or young person in need.”


To find out about becoming a children’s social worker in Yorkshire & the Humber please have a look at the wealth of information about the role of children’s social workers, including case studies, qualifications needed and routes into the profession. 


*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes