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Archive for May, 2010

A week and a half ago, I interviewed for a social worker position within the Referral and Assessment team in the Child Protection unit of the south London borough that I had been volunteering with over the past two months. If any of you reading don’t remember, because everyone who hears that I was volunteering my social work services says, “Whoa. Well, you’re a better person than I am,” I was volunteering to get some recent, UK experience to make my CV look better, mine being so far back and none of it in the UK. I was only mildly nervous about the interview, pretty much knowing that I had it in the bag because nearly every manager has come up to me and told me specifically what a good job I’m doing and how hard a worker I am. Then all the girls started asking me if I remembered this, or that, or the other, and then “revising” with me (“studying” is called “revising” in the UK), and I began to get nervous. The Children Acts 1989 and 2004, sections specifically pertaining to CP work (7, 17, 20, 23, 47 and definitely others, there was a huge list, ACK!), Stay Safe, Be Healthy, Enjoy and Achieve, Achieve Economic Wellbeing, Make a Positive Contribution (five markers they use to gauge the wellbeing of children and families in the UK), and operations questions like, “What happens when you get a referral from a member of the public?”

I don’t think I’ll be revealing any trade secrets here, but my manager didn’t ask me any questions like that. I think it’s because I wasn’t educated here, making him less interested in whether or not I already knew statutory information, which is something I can learn on the job, as he was in finding out my general social work knowledge and attitudes, and how I would deal with certain situations I might find myself in while out in the field. The only one I didn’t pass with flying colors was when dealing with underage mothers, where I forgot that the mother herself is still considered a child, and must be treated accordingly, with us watching out for her needs and wants as much as those of her child. With my skills checked and my character already vouched for through the past two months, I was offered a start date of 1st June, pending final approval!

For about a week, I sweated over the phrase “pending final approval”. I was pretty sure I would be OK but feared some dark horse UK QSW would come out of the woodwork wanting a permanent position to sweep my spot out from under me. I need not have worried because late this past week I received confirmation that I did indeed have a job to go to on Tuesday, and that I would be taking the title of Senior Social Worker. It’s a little nerve wracking; apparently senior social workers may be assigned higher caseloads than social workers, but my deputy head manager already told me they would only be assigning me Initial Assessments at first. And since I don’t have a car, and will be riding my bike as well as taking public transportation, I’ve negotiated the probability of not being assigned far-flung cases, or those in the hillier region of the council. Phew! I’ve also been given the use of a tablet, ostensibly so I can learn the handwriting system and write notes instead of the more distracting-to-clients typing notes down, but also so that I may try to keep up with paperwork while using public transportation. Apparently every hour with the families generates about 6 hours of paperwork, a daunting figure when you take timescales into account.

I will still need to buy a new computer for working from home as my old Mac won’t allow me to access the internet program to write case notes, but overall I’m feeling pretty prepared for this job. But I am shitting myself just a little bit. I’ll be working again, after a 16-month absence from the work force. Time to get on it! One bank holiday weekend to recover from a 5 time zone change.

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Boy, it’s been nearly a month since my last post. In that time I have interviewed, dreamed about what I could do with my pay, ridden my bike a lot, flew to another country without my passport, gone to the beach, and gotten a bit of a tan. I also got to hang out with a pretty cool three year old who has discovered, “What?” and its cousin, “Why?”, much to her mother’s and my dismay.

I’ve spent some time sewing, spent some money, hung out, and went to my mother’s wedding reception (the wedding was in Vegas, before I got my passport back). Life has been pretty awesome, but I’ve been too lazy to write in the blog. I’ll catch up soon, hopefully with pictures.

Can’t wait to get back to my husband, my pillow, another pair of shoes (who brings only one pair of shoes on vacation, the pair that still needs breaking in?), and our garden. I wonder how much it’s grown? I hope the peas are flowering, I’m definitely looking forward to that.

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I have been eligible to vote for 14 years now, and have rarely used my enfranchisement to much good. Though Florida, where I was raised, is a swing state, I was only able to put that to use in the 2000 elections, and we all know what good that did! Actually, do we? I wonder how much of the fiasco made it through to the average British citizen, and especially those who were my age at the time. Recently, I had a near-altercation online with someone who thought it was “ironic” that America went to an illegal war over oil, killing British soldiers, and civilians, and now oil was washing up on our shores. I countered that the American government had started that war, and that neither I, nor anyone I cared to know, had supported it. This person came back with something along the lines of “By the people, for the people and of the people”; I responded, “Yeah, because everyone in this country is a chav or a Tory,” very close to blasting them about civic participation, gubernatorial representation, and did they feel their government adequately reflected their opinions and ideas? In my froth of rage, I wanted to school this person on the 2000 elections and the recount that was called off by Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who just so happened to be under George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, and then, shockingly, working in Washington soon after. My subsequent realization that I was being trolled cooled me off, but it made me think about elections and my part in the various states in which I’ve lived.

Florida: just 18 for the 2000 elections. Paid attention, discussed the happenings with friends. Ignored local politics. Voted.
Minnesota: The first place I wasn’t oblivious to politics, excited about being a social worker and living in a historically politically active, liberal, democratic state. I wasn’t there long enough to delve heavily into local politics, but I voted for governor, though I suspected that Tim Pawlenty would win, once it was known he had George W. Bush’s support (I was right).
New York: Though I lived in NYC for 6 years, it never felt permanent, and I moved so often, through various municipalities, that I lost steam for local politics.

Local politics are extremely important, moreso than a lot of people think, yet we often neglect them in favor of national politics. Presidential elections only come around every four years but local elections come around much more frequently and have a much larger effect on day-to-day life. I’m really feeling the need to get involved in local politics again, and as such, was extremely excited when last night, a Briton told us that based on his French partner being able to vote, he thought that we, as leave-holders, may vote in local (council) elections. This morning I did a little research, having been saddened that my residence didn’t come through until three days before the election, much too late for me to vote. I did a little searching this morning, but it didn’t take more than a cursory read to realize that neither I nor my husband are eligible to vote in any kind of election in the UK. It would take citizenship for us, though it seems like practically the rest of the world is allowed to vote in, at least, council elections. Below, the requirements. I make sad face now.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you are:

* 16 years old or over and
* a British citizen
* or an Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK

If you are 16 or 17, you can only register if you will be 18 within the lifetime of the electoral register. You cannot vote until you are 18.

Below is a full list of Commonwealth and European Union countries. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, and resident in the UK, you are eligible to register to vote in UK elections. To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a ‘Commonwealth citizen’ includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

Citizens of the European Union who are not Commonwealth citizens can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections.

European Union countries

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy

Latvia
Lithuania
Luxemburg
Malta
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
United Kingdom

Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
The Bahamas
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belize
Botswana
Brunei Darussalam
Cameroon
Canada
Cyprus
Dominica
Fiji Islands
The Gambia
Ghana
Grenada
Guyana
India

Jamaica
Kenya
Kiribati
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Mauritius
Mozambique
Namibia
Nauru
New Zealand
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda

St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia

St Vincent & The Grenadines
Samoa
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Swaziland
United Republic of Tanzania
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tuvalu
Uganda
United Kingdom
Vanuatu
Zambia
Zimbabwe

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