Alfie is a second year participant on the Frontline programme, and is based in the London Borough of Southwark. Alfie originally studied Criminology at university, and then went to work for a schools advice organisation that provided support to senior leaders in schools across the UK. It was whilst tutoring for the Access Project, a charity that offers tutors to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, he realised his interest and enjoyment in working with young people, so decided to join Frontline.
- What would you say to someone considering the Frontline programme?
I’d say know why you want to be a social worker. Ask yourself why you want to apply. It isn’t any old grad scheme. You will be working with real families who need your support at some of the most difficult times of their lives.
- What were the key factors which drew you to social work?
Being able to work with people and being able to notice and have an impact in changing something for the better. I had spent too many hours in boardrooms, discussing things that wouldn’t give any noticeable change. I would often come out of a meeting not feeling fulfilled, and would never actually meet or work with those that we were meant to be helping. With social work, you are on the frontline working with those that are most vulnerable in society.
- How have you been able to apply skills from your degree?
I did Criminology at university. I would say most social sciences have some link to the skills needed for social work. You are working with human society and understanding social relationships. I would think most degrees involve some sort of essay writing where you are collecting information from various sources as you would as a social worker.
- How have you found the training and support from Frontline?
The support given by Frontline is incredible. I have felt fully supported throughout the entire first year, and to date in second year. Your direct managers work closely with Frontline, and you’re in a team with other Frontline participants. This means you can all support each other, as well as having a manager who is solely responsible for Frontline participants in the borough. In the second year, you have an academic tutor and also the option of having a coach. I would say it is the only route into social work that gives this level of support for two years.
- So what exactly does your role entail day-to-day?
No day is the same, which is why I like it. You never know what is coming. This does mean that if you like to plan, you might have to readjust. I definitely had to. In reality, there is time you will spend at a desk in an office. Reports have to be written, visits have to be written up as well as lots of other computer based tasks. However, you do then get to be out and about in the community, at service user’s houses, at schools doing the really enjoyable and interesting work with children and families.
- What’s been the best thing about the programme so far?
The level of support whilst on the job, and also the way that you stay and work at the same borough that you start in when moving into the second year. This has meant that you have the first year to get to know other teams, understand processes and be ready to dive into the second year where you’ll be in a new team but in the same borough. I also really enjoyed the summer institute, where you spend 5 weeks at a university with all Frontline participants. The teaching is great, and you really learn a lot in 5 weeks.
- What’s the most challenging part of the programme?
I worked for 3 years in a completely different sector. It was a challenge to readjust, but didn’t take long and I’m much happier doing what I am doing now. Some people might say that balancing a 5 day working week with essays is challenging, but I haven’t found it to be that way. As long as you plan, and put days aside to focus on essays, it’s absolutely fine. My social life still remains, and I still live to tell the tale.
- Any last words of wisdom?
Sign up for the Community Care and NSPCC newsletters. I read these to understand if social work was really something I wanted to do. There is also a Frontline blog which is helpful for those considering applying. I continue to read them all now, as it keeps you up to date with what is going on in the sector.
Applications to join Frontlines 2019 cohort CLOSE on the 16th of December, for more information visit the website here: https://thefrontline.org.uk/apply