Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’

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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Moving temporarily to East Dulwich (south of the Thames, somewhat centralish, for those of you not in London) in order to leave house owned and lived in by landlord we were forced to have arrested, who is now embraced by the long arm of the law. We have been offered a garret room of romantically small proportions (and a slanting roof and a window cut into the slanting roof) free of charge for two months in exchange for house and back garden DIY. These past three days of semi-squatting have been mentally taxing. I say “semi-squat” because we have paid and are thus allowed to be here but feel weird and want out ASAP. Today we meet up with the guy whose house we’ll be moving into for the handover of keys. This all comes at a fortuitous time, he’s about to go on holiday tomorrow and we need to save money. Tomorrow another friend with access to a work van has agreed to shuttle our stuff from Point A to Point B.

The flat is an utter wreck and I feel somewhat crap about that. I’ll be forced by my own conscience, despite our landlord’s actions, to vacuum the hallway and to put the kitchen to rights. That’s not a big deal. Then we’ll have to leave a note for the back tenant to take the trash and recycling out on Tuesday night since we (God in Heaven) won’t be here.

East Dulwich is a working class neighborhood with a more racially diverse population than Ealing. It feels a bit like Brooklyn and is as cut off from the rest of London as Red Hook is. There are no Underground lines, hardly any bus lines and only London Overground and National Rail. That’s fine, because it’s not permanent. And it’s about 6 miles to London Bridge and quite a bit closer to O & K than Ealing so we can visit more regularly (I hope). Also will be one n’hood over from my new friend A, an American girl from Tennessee who is baking my birthday cake. We trade pilates for massage, it’s awesome. Don’t think we’ll be able to do that for a while as I would feel really bad to take over the living room of the temporary lodgings unless I knew no one else was in the house.

Also, through some quirk or other, we’ve had no hot water for the past few days. Cold water showers in England are bitingly cold. I think we had summer, it was like a week long, in the 80s, and they called it a “heat wave”. Last night I was shivering and had to wear my hoodie. Today is the Bright Times vol. III BBQ at South drinks (The Coach and Horses). The boyfriend is making Mexican rice & beans. I wanted to make the luscious mac & cheese with pickled chiles that A made last week but gave in when the boyfriend made an oh-please-can-I? face.

I hope to have photos of charmingly tiny room soon. Finally found the battery charger for the digital camera.

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In the past few days I’ve taken the tube a lot more than normal. On Sunday, I just couldn’t come up with an easy way to get from Ealing to Camden town, and was running out of time to pick up a bicycle stem (for the boyfriend), so ended up just going on the train. Delays, Camden Town tube station closed for 4 hours (on purpose) when I wanted to go home, more delays on going home. It ended up taking me a total of three hours to get there, pick it up, look in five or six shoe stores for a particular pair of Vans, and get home. Partway through the trip, the Picadilly line shut down going west due to signal failure. Thank god I had just transferred from the Northern line, and it would take me to Embankment, where I could pick up the District line. That was almost fubared, though, until I remembered that District is only closed from Embankment east. Weekends are a bitch for taking the tube in London. Central line, partial closure; Circle line, complete closure; District line, partial closure; and others I don’t use so don’t know of.

Then yesterday I took the Central line to Stratford to see Star Trek for the gloriously low price of £3.50 with O, K & H. We giggled about our campy bartender, drank beers & ate smuggled in chocolate and legally purchased caramel corn. The movie was EXCELLENT, I must strongly advise others to go see it. Since the boyfriend won’t be playing polo for a few weeks (yet again, he fell playing yesterday and has injured himself), maybe we’ll go next week to see it again.

On the way home, delays, delays, then complete closure of the Central line going west from White City. No indication of how to get to points further west that did not include going to West Ruislip (the tube line often splits, you have to know the end point before you get on in case you get sent somewhere you didn’t plan on going). I asked someone and was told to take a bus, outside, to the left, numbers that did not call at the stop I found when I went where directed. Called the boyfriend, freaked out mildly, then got some cash and hailed a cab. It went past me and a dude almost took it. I yelled at him, kinda under my breath, calling him a f-head for stealing my cab.

But then I heard he was going to Ealing Broadway and asked if we could share. This is just not done in England! But in NYC, no one bats an eyelash if you want to cabshare. Anyway, we had a nice chat and he told me I didn’t have to kick in, it turns out that in cases like this you can retain the receipt and claim the expense with TfL. Sweet! So all in all, I got home faster and was dropped off right outside of Ealing Common, thus saving me a 10-15 minute walk. Whee!

I really hate public transport here in London.

Edit: Just bought the shoes through UK Amazon for £5 less than Office. Now I just have to sell the gift card from Office (their form of in-store credit).

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