“Every young person brings a different story"

25 Oct 2023

To celebrate National Care Leavers Week, we talked to one of our team around a young person in Sutton's care, Sara-Jane Bailey.

Sara-Jane explains: “I’m a Social Worker in the Children Looked After and Leaving Care Team in Sutton. We work with a large age range from little ones to young people leaving care at 25. My role in the team is about overseeing the care plan for each child and young person I support, looking at all aspects of their life from health, education, employment, placement settings; advocating for them and then supporting them as they leave the care system. 

"You go on a journey with each child and young person and see them through some of the most significant changes in their life, and often you are the constant person in their journey. My role is really varied: my day could be writing reports or going on visits to see the child where they live or at their school, meeting their headteachers and designated teachers, meeting other professionals involved in the care of that child, or meeting a young person to support with independence skills such as cooking, managing money, shopping etc.

"Every young person brings a different story; it’s a real privilege to hear their story and then become a part of it, trying to give them the best care they can have. You hear and see the good and difficult parts of their story and advocate for them through some of the hardest times of their lives. Every child and young person I come into contact with brings something new to me too, so I also learn through them. 

"It’s an amazing job but it is also a hard role. The amount of time you can give each young person is restricted by the very nature of working with people and that in itself can be challenging. You can’t go into social work thinking you are the answer to everything. You constantly have to remind yourself that you can’t answer and resolve everything – but you can do your very best for that child or young person. I’m a reflective practitioner: I like to look at the different angles of a particular situation and manage the expectations of the job, being flexible and reflective. 

"I’ve been in my team since the summer but I worked in the Leaving Care Team in Sutton a couple of years ago, before I took a career break and moved abroad for a few years. 

"I was always keen to come back to Sutton as I really like the positive and supportive environment here."