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Karen Andews - Sharing my social work story

I have always wanted to progress within social work but decided to gain some life experience before I gained my degree. I first began my career as a nursery nurse and worked in private day nurseries, but after a few years I decided that I wanted to work directly with parents and children and I moved roles to work in a residential family centre.

Following this, I started work for Blackpool Council as a Family Support Worker and then worked as a Keyworker in the Families in Need Team. I was supported by the council to gain my social work degree and was offered a social work job once I graduated.

My first social work role was with the Supporting and Strengthening Families’ Team, I was then successful in gaining a role of a Senior Social Worker on the Supporting Children with Complex Needs Team. After a few years of practising as a social worker and supporting students, I decided to change roles to work as a Practice Development Worker within the Greater Lancashire Teaching Partnership. My role was to support all social work students in Children’s Services and to work with the universities to bridge the gap between learning and social work practice. 

I am currently employed as an ASYE and Learning Co-ordinator at Blackpool Council where I support newly qualified social workers in Children’s Services by facilitating group reflective supervision, protected development days and 1-1 mentoring sessions.  I also deliver training and learning circles to the workforce to support practice improvement.

We asked Karen a series of questions to provide an overview of her social work journey so far...

Why have you pursued a career in social work?

I chose to pursue a career in social work because I wanted to empower parents to make changes and choices to keep their children safe.  The job that I do now allows me to share my knowledge and experience with students and newly qualified social workers.

What is your proudest moment working in this field?

My proudest moments working in this field are when I am no longer needed, whether this is with a child, a young person, their family or with a social worker.  I know that I have worked with them to develop their strengths and they are now resilient in dealing with the challenges they face whether that be within their family or in the work we do.

Would you recommend a career in social work?

I would recommend working in social work in the public sector because it can be very rewarding. Blackpool is a small authority and we all work closely with one another.

There is a chance to build relationships with the children, young people and families we work with and also with the professionals that work as a system together around a family. Blackpool have co-produced a new model of practice for all in Blackpool and as a partnership we will work together to ensure that Blackpool Families Rock.

How would you describe your social work journey in three words?

Exciting, challenging and rewarding!