I became more involved with the union when there was a period of instability and a number of service centre staff were under the threat of redundancy. I became the Union Learning Rep for NSPCC Swansea Service centre by default really – I was a team manager and therefore was in a good position to identify training and development needs for staff.
The work we do is complex – we deal with issues of safeguarding and child protection issues every day including offering support to families and working with young parents-to-be to support them around the birthing process and life changes once their baby is born.
These cases are usually where there are concerns about the parents whether this be mental health, previous children withdrawn, alcohol and substance misuse or they could be first time parents.
We provide support to children and young people who have experienced trauma including physical/sexual abuse and neglect. We also run a programme working with parents where there are issues of domestic abuse, with the goals of the reduction of abuse and the parents being able to manage their emotions more effectively.
This is highly complex work and staff need to be supported to be able to undertake this work safely and effectively whilst also recognising the impact this work has on them as individuals.
We have been accessing support from Community via Lisa (Learning Organiser) and the Welsh Union Learning Fund for many years. During this time we have accessed the training to develop staff’s resilience, skills and knowledge in a wide range of areas.
This has included around vicarious trauma, working safely with trauma and personality disorders, lone working and personal safety, child sexual exploitation training and mindfulness.
Most of the above is to support staff to build their resilience to aid working with trauma and complex dynamics of the families we support and to prevent staff burnout. We recognise that we need to look after our staff team as this has an impact on the support they offer to vulnerable children and families.
I have been able to access WULF funding to develop my own skills in Video Interactive Guidance and am offering this on a voluntary basis to families who are experiencing difficulties to improve their sensitivity to their children. This is a powerful intervention and something I give back to a group I am involved with on a voluntary basis to improve outcomes for children and relationships.
Without this funding I simply would not have been able to progress in my training and be able to offer help to others. I plan to utilise some of the training again in a voluntary capacity to support a rolling programme around a recovery toolkit for those with adverse childhood experiences.
I suppose I could say that not only has the training benefited me as an individual but has also helped me support others, including very vulnerable people in society by improving their confidence and self-esteem which in turn improves their employability and resilience to deal with life’s many challenges.
This funding would not be available elsewhere and I appreciate and recognise the value of the support offered via this funding and Community Learn both to myself and the people my organisation supports. It is an incredible journey to have been on, and this #LearningAtWorkWeek I cannot recommend it enough to others!