Anjali completed the programme in 2018 after a five year career break.
I qualified as a social worker in 2006 and since then I have worked in different streams of social care. I always enjoyed my work and never thought I would be out of practice, especially for more than five years. The gap in my career was due to a couple of losses in my family and then planning my own. Although I had never planned to be away from my profession for this length of time, life takes turns and you find yourself getting tangled between responsibilities for your family. Like many mothers and wives, my situation wasn’t different. We had two beautiful kids in the last five years and I devoted myself to their care and development whilst my husband continued his work. Although I never regret my decision to not work and focus on my children, the desire to return to work in my field grew stronger. The plan was always to return to practice as soon as the children were able to attend full-time school.
A year before the programme, I began to work on my plan to return to social work but it wasn’t easy. The big question was ‘how to return to practice?’ As I was out of practice for over five years, my registration with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) was expired and by then the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) was in place. HCPC had clear expectations about how to return to practice, i.e. spend three months updating your knowledge and skills, including practice under supervision, and formal and personal studies. It was not at all easy to find programmes that could help me achieve these requirements. I even thought of undertaking short courses but they were either not specific enough, too expensive, or too far away from home. I attended Community Care and COMPASS workshops, signed up to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), contacted colleges and universities, and signed up for voluntary work with local organisations and even local authorities to explore options that could get me back onto the HCPC register. It was frustrating at times and at some points I was starting to worry that my career in social work was over.
When the Return to Social Work (RTSW) programme was announced by the Government, I became hopeful and went through their selection process. Fortunately, I was a successful candidate. The RTSW programme is designed to help social workers like me who need support to develop their confidence and build on their knowledge and skills of social work. In my case, this was made possible by the variety of teaching modes used, like knowledge-based sessions, reflective supervision, active learning sets and supervised practice.
These helped me to understand social work in today’s context, including changes in laws and regulations, challenges faced by social workers, the Continuing Professional Development Service, the Professional Capabilities Framework, and field exposure. More importantly they helped me regain my confidence, which is most needed when you have been out of practice for a number of years. The programme was also helpful in building my skills in communication, writing reports, relationship building, interviews and many more. I’m glad that I was part of this programme and thankful to the team who designed it so well. I look forward to resuming work as it is my passion to work in the field of social work.
For all those social workers who, like me, are out of practice and want to go back to work but think it is too difficult, I would like to advise you that there is good support and guidance provided through the RTSW programme. They will help you go back to work with confidence so you can do the best job of positively changing people’s lives.