support worker, not especially supportive

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support worker, not especially supportive

Post by Meleca » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:31 pm

Apologies in advance for a long post.
A referral was made to childrens services by a tenancy officer from the council due to the state of my home (extreme clutter, not making any excuses for it, it was terrible).
A social worker attended that day, spoke to myself and my ex partner, told me to find somewhere for the kids to stay in the short term while clearing my home (which we were already in the process of doing before the referral) and told me I would be assigned a worker. I was assigned a support worker the next day.
The first phonecall with her she tried to schedule a meeting on my sons birthday, I asked if it could be another day as I didn't want it to ruin his day, she seemed ok with that but when asking how much I was seeing the children she told me it's fine to visit them but I should be focussing on the most important thing, aka clearing the clutter. The first meeting she brought the council tenancy officer with her, which she asked and I agreed was fine. It didn't go too badly although she came off as rather condescending. A week later she visited again, bringing the tenancy officer with her again without asking or letting me know, which I admit put me out a little. She was very condescending this time, tutting at how much we had done, obviously expecting more (it is just myself and my ex cleaning and clearing, and it had been only two weeks for a very large level of clutter) complained about the clutter building up in the garden as we're struggling to find a way of clearing it without money, a van, or fuel in either of our cars. She then told me she may have to get the social worker back out to look at things if I don't get things done faster, and she knows I struggle with my anxiety but I need to buck my ideas up. She then berated my ex for 'putting my mental health before the kids wellbeing' because he didn't want to just throw every single thing out of my bedroom as I prefer to sort it myself for privacy. She spoke to my oldest for 5 minutes before leaving.
My children have been staying with their father while the clearing has been going on, but as he is military and generally lives on barracks, he stays with his father and his fathers girlfriend while he's down, so the kids are there with him. As ex's father and partner are committing benefit fraud, and not declaring my ex and his father as living there, my ex and his fathers girlfriend have fudged the details somewhat and now childrens services are treating the situation as if my children are being cared for solely by this woman while they live there, despite me telling them otherwise. This has resulted in exs step-mother complaining to the support worker that she cannot afford having the kids there without financial help (I've provided £35, additional food, made sure the children are there a minimal amount of time by taking them over to my family during the day, and my ex has provided £70 himself) which prompted the support worker to send me a rather abrupt message saying she expects me to provide more, and to sort it out immediately without asking me for my side or for an explanation at all. I explained my financial position and what I have done, and informed her I would arrange for the children to stay elsewhere if the financial burden was too great. Nonetheless, she has offered to arrange a grant for this woman, and food bank parcel. During this meeting, she also discussed, at length, what she expects me to do before her next meeting, telling my exs step-mother that she expects everything cleaned, cleared and sorted in every room (including mine) to her standards by the next meeting or she would be 'calling in the big dogs' (her words apparently). She has still not mentioned this to me at all, 5 days later, which seems odd as I'm the one expected to do it. She also asked about the clutter in the garden and whether we had cleared it yet, as she and the tenancy officer had demanded it cleared. Ex's step-mother said she didn't know, so she said she would drive past and check.
All in all, for a support worker, I'm really not sure the title fits. I'm unhappy with the fact that she felt it appropriate to discuss me with a woman who is nothing to do with me, and who I had certainly not given her permission to discuss me with. The way she uses a social worker as some kind of threat makes me uneasy. In the 3 weeks she's been involved, she has done nothing at all that could be considered support but has repeatedly stated that my children are not allowed home until she says so, and I should be concentrating on clearing my home rather than paying attention to my children (who are getting very upset with the whole situation, and being separated from me overnight).
We have made significant progress in the past 3 weeks, cleared every room and gotten rid of almost all the junk and unused stuff that was cluttering the place. She does not think this is enough progress.
No professional involved with my children has ever raised any concerns, their school attendance is excellent, they are punctual, clean, well mannered, well fed, happy, always clean clothes, well groomed, plenty of clothes and shoes that fit well and are weather appropriate. My behaviour and interaction with both the children and people such as teachers and doctors has never been a concern, despite my severe anxiety it has not significantly affected the childrens lives. We go out, we go for weekends away, birthday parties, play dates with friends', see relatives, we're not isolated. Myself and their father have a good relationship and we do things as a family very often. Beyond the state of my home, the initial social worker, with 27 years experience, who assessed the referral stated she had no concerns at all. I have been seeing a counsellor for my anxiety, and have been referred to peri-natal mental health team for anxiety and low mood (as I am currently pregnant). I have also been accessing help through MIND and a charity specialising in hoarding, which I was pursuing prior to the referral. I was on antianxiety medication before my pregnancy and under the care of my doctor also.
I'm feeling quite upset and unsure of things due to the way the support worker seems to be handling things, and I feel more judged and criticized than supported. The uncertainty and thinly veiled demands and threats are making things so much harder than they need to be at an already stressful time and I'm not sure where I stand legally. Anyone who's managed to slog through this and has any advice, it would be really appreciated, thank you.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: support worker, not especially supportive

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:40 pm

Dear meleca,

Welcome to the parents forum and thank you for posting.

Just to recap, I can see that a referral was made to children’s services by your housing officer as he was concerned about the clutter in your home. It sounds like you and the social worker agreed that the clutter was extreme and needed tackling. In other aspects of your children’s lives, you say they are thriving and you are providing good quality care for them. You suffer from anxiety but are working with your GP and Mind to treat and manage this. Your mental health is not directly impacting on your children’s wellbeing. You are pregnant.

Due to children services intervention, you have been asked to agree to your children staying with their father, grandfather and his partner overnight-until you have finished clearing up.
You say the only live issue is the clutter and to help you, a support worker was allocated to you. You have found her to be unhelpful and at times unprofessional. I agree with you, it’s not clear what support she is in fact offering you although she is monitoring the situation on behalf of children services.

However, you have been seeking your own support to help you with the hoarding issue you have. Can this charity who deals with hoarding advise you about other support you could access? They may know a lot more than the support worker.
You say you have made a lot of progress but the support worker disagrees. Can the hoarding charity gave you an independent and realistic view? Or speak to the social worker and ask her to assess the progress you have made.

You ask where you stand legally.

The support worker has been offered to you, it seems, as part of the early help scheme. Early help is with a parents consent-so you could refuse the support from her. See our information about early help .

You are understandably concerned that the support worker has breached the data protection laws by discussing confidential information about you with the children’s carer. I agree this is not professional, may be a breach of data protection law and you should consider a complaint or ask for another worker to be allocated.
With regard to your children coming home, you and dad can agree this any time as there is no court order preventing them from returning home. However, I suggest, that you speak to the social worker first, in case she thinks the clutter still presents a danger to your children.
If she did want them to stay longer in their father’s care, ask for her to set out by email, her reasons why and for how long.

I hope my advice helps. If have any questions please post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.
Best wishes,

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