Social work learning practice
Social work learning practice

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Social work learning practice

2 Listening to life experiences

In this audio clip you will hear practitioners and service users talk about their life experiences. First you will hear from two service users – a foster carer and a resident in an elderly person's home. Then you will hear the care manager of a home and a social worker from an adoption agency sharing accounts of their life experiences.

Activity 2

0 hours 20 minutes

Listen to the clip and note down those experiences that you consider to be most significant. Then think about how significant your own life experiences are.

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Transcript: Listening to life experiences

I think that my first placement, for me, was a big milestone, because obviously it was something that I very much wanted to do. And I had a very good link worker that did our assessment, and she very much thought we had a lot to offer. And I have no doubt that she prepared us well for doing the job.
Stephen Rashid
This was fostering, was it?
This was long term fostering.
Stephen Rashid
Long term fostering. Right.
Yes. And the first child that we had placed with us, to be quite honest, I don’t think anything in my life experience could have prepared me for this first child … because, even the naughtiest child, or the most difficult person that I ever knew in my life, could not have prepared me for this young man that came to us. He was only a short-term placement. But it was, for me, an eye-opener … really thrown into the deep end.
Well, this young man …his mum had just died … and I don’t think, with hindsight, I took on board his grief. He came from a family where drink and violence …mum had died violently, with drink involved. And it was just something that was beyond anything that I had ever brushed with.
Well, I lost my husband nine years ago, and we were married forty three years and a half … yes … knew him two years before. We were young and going everywhere together. We didn’t have no children, but we went everywhere together, and walked a lot, and went on holiday together. We were very happy, and he died. Just over a week he was ill, and he died very suddenly, and it left me … in few years I'd lost … had gone on to five stone in weight after he'd gone. And I went to the hospital and they found out I was diabetic. And that's why I came to this home.
Stephen Rashid
So how long have you been here?
It'll be six years, I think, December.
You had a huge network of aunties, when you weren't related at all … but they were all your aunties, and they looked after you and brought you up. Your mum was working, or dad was working, and this auntie, and that … and there was this network around you that supports you. It's still there, I think, in most cases. I'm an uncle to people who don't share any DNA with me whatsoever. But that they called you because you're just part of that network, and when you come to work as well, you're reflecting on how we were brought up, I think there is a cultural thing here, as well, in this part of North Wales. There's a cultural thing in the way I respond to care. People are … we're not isolated. Our community is more than just us and our own family. It's the people we were brought up with as well, and you tend to extend that out to care for a lot more people than your immediate family.
I had a very interesting childhood, in that I spent a great deal of time being brought up by my grandmother, whilst my mother was training to be a nurse … and would live in between the two homes. And my grandmother lived in a very country area, and my mother lived in the city. And so I would spend weekends in the city, and weekdays with my grandmother. This was in Guyana, in South America … and she was a very poor person, but at the same time always managed. I mean, she must have had about twenty grandchildren, who were always staying with her during the school holidays and things. But she would always make sure that everybody was fed and clothed, and everyone's children were welcome. And, she looked after … I remember growing up with a cousin, who I thought was a cousin, but then later discovered that she wasn't actually a cousin. But she was some neighbour’s daughter, who'd been abandoned, that my grandmother had taken in and cared for.
So there was always that kind of a mishmash in the family … that people were thought of as family, but weren't really blood relations. It wasn’t a kind of culture where people were segregated, because I grew up with children who had a hearing problem, children who had polio … and you all played together and did things together. And so, it was never kind of perceived as being unusual, or odd. You just accepted that so and so walked like that, or talked like that. And I suppose, in a way, when I came here … I was probably about twelve when I came here, and it was quite a different … it was a bit of a culture shock. It was a completely different experience … educationally, socially … not having a large extended family around. And I think it makes you think about things in a different way.
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