Bringing my experience to a research project

Kieran Coleman
Member of Young Advisor Panel

26 October 2021

Guest blog by Kieran Coleman, member of the WWCSC Young Advisors Panel and graduate of Media Arts (BA), University of Plymouth. Kieran worked as a videographer and editor on the Happier Healthier Professionals: Symbolic Awards (Beneficiaries) project, creating videos of care leavers sharing their stories.

In my personal experience, I have found Social Workers and Personal Advisors to work long and exhausting hours within their local authorities to give the best possible help to young children and families. Unfortunately with caseloads rising for a lot of social workers, they feel under a lot of stress. This was highlighted in a publication by Unison, where one of their key findings was that ‘‘caseloads continue to be a source of stress for many social workers“. Almost half (48%) of social workers said they feel ‘over the limit’ as regards their caseloads’ (A day in the life of social work, 2017),

In their latest Happier Healthier Professionals project, the team at What Works for Children’s Social Care created a project that asked care leavers from different local authorities to share a message of recognition or gratitude towards their social worker/ personal advisor at their local authority. They wanted to understand if watching these messages would help the wellbeing of social workers.

As the videographer and editor – filming the participants and choosing the sections that were the most important for this project – I was able to get a perspective of what it’s like to work on a research project for the first time. As a care leaver, it was very interesting to be a part of this intervention project, on the creative side recording and selecting the footage that felt most relevant and important. My own life experience (and my uni work in Media Arts) meant I was better able to identify the most important bits of the conversation.

But also, it was great to hear other care leavers’ stories of the positive impact that their social workers have had on their lives. This has always been a great part of having a social worker for me, as mine has never stopped trying to make my life better. To see and hear other care leavers’ stories was extremely powerful. It’s a real pity that social workers don’t always hear these stories or realise that they can have a massive positive impact on people’s lives.

So social workers, the next time you are working hard and doing long hours, and feel that your work might not be positively impacting the people you work, please do watch these messages and think about all the great work you are doing as you change the lives of care leavers and children in care for the better.