Mum inspired to be social worker after needing support for her son
- Credit: Submitted
A mother-of-three was inspired to become a social worker after encountering challenges in her home life which threatened to tear the family apart.
Kerry Norfolk, 47, needed a social worker herself to support her son Alex who has complex special needs as she was a single mother who was struggling to manage his challenging behaviour.
She said being supported by a social worker, along with specialist teachers from Hall School in Norwich, and phycological input from the Starfish Plus specialist learning disability service kept them together living happily as a family.
After this experience, the mother decided to retrain from a job in retail management and completed a social work degree.
She enrolled with Norfolk County Council's social care institute for practice excellence (SCIPE) programme, and works with people in the south Norfolk area.
Miss Norfolk said: "My social worker was my inspiration to retrain. I wanted to make a difference to the lives of children and families that I support. We are still friends now."
As well as her role as a social worker, she is also a coach with Boxing England, helping to train children with aggression and behaviour issues through boxing.
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The most common issues Miss Norfolk works with are families struggling with mental health problems, neglect, drug use, domestic violence and those where children are at risk of child exploitation.
She said: "Social work is all about facilitating sustained change and working collaboratively with families. It’s about keeping children safe from harm but it’s also about keeping them with their family wherever that is possible.
“I’ve worked with around 400 cases in the past year and I’ve only had to take that very last step of removing a child in around two pc of those cases."
In cases where it is not possible for families to stay together, Miss Norfolk and social workers explore whether children can be cared for by another person within the extended family.
"The ultimate aim is to keep children safe from physical harm and thriving so they can achieve a good and happy life," she added.
How to become a social worker
Those hoping to follow in Kerry Norfolk's footsteps will need a degree. Social work degree courses are available at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and other universities in the eastern region, as well as through the Open University.
If you have already graduated in another discipline, you can join a fast-track funded postgraduate course via the government's Step Up scheme, which is open for new applicants until Wednesday, April 7.
Step up to Social Work is currently the only one of these available in Norfolk. All these programmes provide a recognised generic qualification, although they are each aimed at a particular specialism.
If you’re already qualified, the county council is actively recruiting to it’s Family Assessment and Safeguarding Teams (FAST).
Norfolk County Council's children's social care department has around 400 social workers, and around 150 work in frontline roles in Family Assessment and Safeguarding teams. There are 643 people in adult social services.
Visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/jobs-training-and-volunteering/childrens-services-social-work-vacancies/teams for further information.