A day in the life

Sometimes people ask me what I do and I talk about working with children and families. This is what I do it’s true, but its really a lot more than that.

This morning, a Tuesday after a bank holiday weekend, I checked my email with some trepidation and was surprised to find that there were no emails that I had to deal with. I thought to myself ‘I’ll give it an hour for all the weekend emails to come in.’ We get an email each evening from the police letting us know the children who have gone missing in the last 24 hours. I wondered if they had sent one over on Monday and I’d receive it as soon as the main email box was checked.

I decided to make a start on the weekly figures for last week – a job that I’m meant to do on the first day of the week but it very rarely gets done. So since I had a bit of a quiet morning I thought I would get it done.

Before I could finish this task a phone call was received from a girl we’d been working with on Friday. She’s 17 and has nowhere to live. She can’t go home because she has bail conditions and there is no other family members who can house her. Over the weekend she was placed in B&B accommodation but she has nowhere to go from midday.

The team I work in runs two services – homeless and missing. Normally, I only work with the missing side but both members of the homeless side were out and not likely to return to the office until about 11.30. So I was asked to start work for this girl which involved contacting family members and then passing the information on to the social work team. Thankfully, my colleagues returned to the office at 10.30 and were able to place her in our emergency teen accommodation before the end of the day.

I then spent some time on updating myself with the cases of the children who are currently reported as missing. One young person had been found and returned to his placement in Wales. I contacted Children’s Services in Wales to request that they undertaken a return home interview. Return home interviews are undertaken to talk about the reasons why a child went missing – were they running away from something or running to something.

There were a number of colleagues off work today and there was a lot of new referrals. I was asked if I could help out on a couple of them. I researched the history of the cases and then sent them for an assessment by social workers.

I received some information about a child who had been reported missing over the weekend. I checked the history, discussed it with a colleague and updated the spreadsheet we use that logs each child missing and what work we have undertaken. The phone numbers we had didn’t work so I sent out a letter.

I had to go to conduct a return home interview. The girl had run away after being grounded. It turned out that the reason for the grounding was more interesting than the running away. I undertook a Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment and then agreed to complete referrals for support services.

The family had a staffordshire type dog who was lovely. I spoke to her and gave her some love. The family had had interventions from Children’s Services before and they were amazed that I didn’t ask for the dog to be removed. The dog was very friendly and very well behaved especially with the 4 year old sibling.

On returning to the office, I made a call to inform the mother of the earlier homeless girl that she was in a safe place.

I completed a spreadsheet task for my manager. She’d been struggling with it for hours. I did it in 20 minutes.

I received the email from the police which said that they had received a high number of referrals over the weekend and they were still dealing with the data. Tomorrow… and the rest of the week, is expected to be busy.

Colin – The Feeling Robot

Colin is a robot. Colin lives on a spaceship with lots of other robots. Colin is really good at cleaning and it makes him really happy when he is asked to clean something.

How can we tell that Colin is happy?

One day, Colin was cleaning. The floor was clean and sparkly.

Another robot walked into the room and stamped mud all over the floor.

This made Colin very angry.

How can we tell that Colin is angry?

What could he say? What could he do?

The other robot told Colin that he was rubbish at cleaning. This hurt Colin’s feelings.

How can we tell that Colin’s feelings are hurt?

Colin didn’t want the other robot to get in trouble. Colin didn’t want the other robot to say mean things to him again. Colin didn’t know what to do.

What could Colin do?

Colin decided he wanted someone to talk to about his feelings.

Who could Colin talk to?

Colin was a little bit scared to talk about his feelings. He was worried that someone might laugh at him or tell him that he was being silly.

What else could Colin be worried about?

Colin felt better after he spoke to someone. They understood why he was angry and hurt. They spoke about how Colin could always talk to someone about his feeling, no matter how small or scary.

Colin went back to his cleaning. Colin was happy when he was cleaning and no one could make him feel bad about himself.

Not just for girls

At the moment in Australia there are protests about the tax that needs to be paid on feminine products. This is also an issue in Europe where sanitary towels and tampons are defined as a luxury good and are taxed accordingly. The main reason why there is a tax on these products is because those who have the power to change the tax laws don’t want to discuss it…maybe because it will ick men out…and most of them are men…and they don’t want to be icked.

There are also issues around the safety of sanitary towels and tampons. Fibres used to make these products are bleached and things no one has ever heard of before form a major part of their ingredients. What exactly is ‘infinicel’? What are ActiPearls?

Then there are issues with disposal of these products. They end up in landfill and cause massive pollution.

It may surprise people to know that disposable sanitary towels are not the only option for women on their periods. There are a range of more eco friendly, more economical and better for women. Items such as menstrual cups or sponges. Buzzfeed have 18 reasons why women should switch to a menstrual cup.

And this is not just for girls. It is not just for women. This is an issue that men need to be aware of even if it doesn’t directly affect them. Men need to know about periods and need to know about the products. Men need to be able to discuss it.

Not just so they can discuss whether sanitary products count as luxury products.

There are places in the world where women become ill or die because they use rags when they are on their periods and these become infected; where men marry women and have no idea that it is normal for a woman to bleed; or places where a picture of a woman on her period is removed from the internet because it shows blood; places where female sports players wear white and spend more time worrying about leaking than they do about playing; where women are not allowed to leave their home during their periods.

It is time when female health is not just a female issue. When discussions are had about issues linked to periods men shouldn’t be so icked out about it that they don’t consider the issue. For equality, there shouldn’t be conversations that half the population are left out of because of their gender.

Periods don’t just affect women, they affect everyone. Men know that.

Your only purpose in life

A woman recently said to me that, as a woman, my only purpose in life is to have children. I told her that it really was not.

I don’t think it is anyones only purpose to reproduce. I work with many children who have been produced and I don’t for one minute think that their ‘parents’ have fulfilled their purpose in life by creating life. These people who have had children and then, through their actions, and more often through their lack of actions, teach these children that they are worthless, that they are useless, that they are not worthy of love. These people have done the exact opposite of fulfilling their purpose in life.

We have a good world here, one that provides for us and sustains, one that we have a responsibility to care for and ensure that we protect it. We are the guardians, the caretakers of this world and our purpose is to ensure that life continues to prosper here. Our purpose is to protect this world we have been given. Our purpose is to ensure, not only the continuation of our own species but the continuation of all the life on this planet. And I don’t think we are taking that responsibility seriously if we think that each woman just having children is how we do that.

The earth provides enough food for everyone on the planet and yet some are starving while others die from complications caused by being overweight. Tons of food is thrown out every day. Wasted.

People complain due to slow internet connections while others have no access to clean water.

Children are born into families where they are neglected and abused. Children are abandoned. Orphanages across the world try to care but don’t have adequate resources. Children who were neglected by their parents and taken into state care still have more chance of going to prison than they do of going to university.

Is it really my only purpose to get pregnant and have a child?

If it is my purpose to be a mother then why should I only care for the children who have a DNA link to me? What about the children who are dying? What about my sisters in India who, because of their gender, have no choice for the future? What about my brothers and sisters who are abandoned because they were born disabled? What about my siblings who because of their sexual orientation are jailed and killed?

I think people who spend their live ensuring that children grow into successful adults and live in a world where they are free to choose are awesome. And whether you do that through campaigning, adopting, reproducing and supporting your own child, discovering sustainable energy sources, you should be commended for being fulfilling your purpose in caring for this world and the life on it.

It would be a shame if we reduced our entire purpose to reproduction when we were given responsibilities to the whole world.

Being who we are

Sometimes it is difficult to be who we are. Sometimes it is easy to hide things that make us who we were. These things aren’t necessarily bad things but for some reason we feel the need to hide it. For example, I like star trek, I like discworld, I like hitch hikers guide to the galaxy and I enjoy dressing up in costumes and hanging out with other people who are in costumes. I don’t tell people that when I first meet them. When people ask me what I am reading I will tell them about one of the sensible books on my kindle rather than what I am really reading.

Being who I really am can lead to people thinking that I am weird; it could lead to people laughing at me; it could lead to people not wanting to talk to me or talking about me behind my back or worse, people talking to me about star wars!

It takes confidence in myself and trust in the people I am interacting with to be the person I really am. It takes strength to be that person who I want to be in a new situation with people I don’t know.

The person who we are is the person we are meant to be. We have not been made one way in order for us to be some other way. Often, people find themselves in difficulty because they have been trapped into living as someone else. These difficulties can lead them to acting in ways which are destructive to other people but mostly destructive to themselves.

I was working with someone last week, they have been stealing things but not big things. They have been stealing things that if they had asked for they would have been given. They have been stealing things that they are entitled to. They have been stealing things that already belong to them. No matter what they are being told, they feel the need to steal because they don’t believe that they could get these things any other way. They don’t believe that they are the sort of person who deserves these things. They don’t believe that the person they think they should be.

I believe that the less energy we put into being someone else the more energy we have to be who we are. I believe that we have been brought together in a community to encourage each other to make the decision to be who we are. And when we see people hiding we should be helping them to stop hiding not helping them to keep hiding.