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A day in the life Of...
Kara Swift
Kara Swift
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A Day in the Life of ... Rebecca Carr-Hopkins (social worker/trainer)

Date:24 MAY 2016
Rebecca Carr-Hopkins, Independent Social Work Matters 

What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I'm an independent social worker/trainer. I spend most of my time delivering training to practitioners and managers in numerous local authorities and other social care organisations on a wide range of topics, alongside delivery of specialist attachment training. In addition, I undertake assessment work and/or offer interventions (I am one of very few freelance VIG Guiders) for local authorities and the family courts, and offer clinical supervision to various professionals around the world!

How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?

I stopped working as a local authority social worker 9 years ago. My motivation for leaving was partly practical - I wanted more flexibility than was available within the local authority - but also driven by a desire to be able to work directly with service users again (I was in a front-line management role before I left). Initially I worked as a self-employed children's guardian and undertook a lot of expert reports for the family court which gave me both of my desired outcomes, but as the world of family justice changed I started to deliver more and more training and do less and less assessment work.

What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?

I work with lots of local authorities, some of whom are flourishing in difficult times and others who are struggling to recruit staff and achieve good practice in hard circumstances. Delivering VIG is my most favourite thing to do. It's a real privilege to be able to show parents the magical moments they have with their children. Many parents have had years of being told what they're doing wrong with their children, so having the opportunity to challenge the negative perceptions that they hold about themselves is wonderful.

One mother I worked with recently had had four previous children removed from her care permanently. After the judge hearing her case refused the local authority's application for a placement order for her fifth child, she went home with the baby. She cried during every session of VIG as she couldn't believe how different the films were to what she thought about herself. She and the baby continue to do well in the community.

What is the best and worst part of the day for you?

Standing up in front of a room full of people that I don't know has got easier over the years, but it can still be difficult sometimes. Especially if a group is feeling stressed about having to attend training for whatever reason...The best part of the day is that moment when I know that the group are engaged and excited by the ideas I'm sharing.

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What adjectives best describe you?

Hmm. I'm tenacious and bold, and can be frank and funny.

What keeps you motivated?

Helping people realise their worth and question what they think they know - both service users and professionals.

Tea or coffee?

Both! White tea for breakfast, coffee mid-morning, Darjeeling all afternoon.

What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?

It's a privilege to work alongside others and inspire them. To do this you have to keep taking yourself on. And on. And on...

What song do you listen to the most?

Anything by Four Tet.

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Pretty much the same as everyone else. Eating, drinking nice wine and chilling out with my friends and family.

If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?

I have serious concerns about the fairness of 26 weeks if parents haven't been given high quality assessment and services pre-proceedings. I actually think it would be honest if local authorities filed final care plans at the point of issue, because 26 weeks is actually only 13 weeks in reality, and that isn't long enough for any parent to demonstrate change if that change hasn't happened pre-proceedings. And of course, if that's the case, then the proceedings shouldn't be needed.

You can follow Rebecca on Twitter: @_queenofhandbag

As part of this feature we are asking a wide range of people who have links to the court system and family law to respond to the above questions and give us some information about what their role entails. We hope to get a wide cross section of people  to this end, if you would like to contribute please email editor@familylaw.co.uk