Frontline: transforming the lives of vulnerable children through social work

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Are you interested in social work? Do you want to help vulnerable people and have a career in which you help make a positive change in society? Frontline is a new organisation that can help you do just that. Frontline was established in 2012 and their leadership development programme provides graduates with the opportunity to learn valuable and necessary skills, and jump-start their social work career. Having been placed in the prestigious Times Top 100 graduate employers list for the third year running, Frontline provides an excellent opportunity for graduates to join the highly challenging – and highly rewarding – profession of social work. I spoke with Katie Purser, Recruitment Director of Frontline, to get a better idea what Frontline is, why graduates might be interested in applying, and what they look for in applicants.

Katie explained that Frontline is a new charity that focuses on helping vulnerable families and children by introducing them to skilled social workers who can play a vital role in helping them overcome their significant challenges. Frontline operates a 2-year graduate scheme designed to train aspiring social workers in the skills necessary to be leaders in social work. I asked Katie why such work was so vital, and she replied by saying that many young vulnerable people without the support and influence of responsible adults really struggle in their lives. “One in four of the adult prison population were in care at some point”, said Katie. “Only 6% of people who’ve been in care have been to uni”. This really emphasises the impact the lack of a strong role model can have on vulnerable youth, and why it is so important to provide trained, highly skilled social workers to these vulnerable children and families. Katie also highlighted the complexity of these issues, saying “it’s very easy to point the finger at parents, but it’s more complicated than that”. Children can be put into care for many reasons, not just because of their parents, including poverty, sexual abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction. This means that social workers have to be able to skilfully deal with these complex issues in a sensitive and caring way. This is why Frontline was established, Katie said. “Frontline believes that we can make a difference for vulnerable children and families by recruiting and training inspirational social workers who can help make real change”.

I then asked Katie why graduate students might want to apply to Frontline. Katie said that Frontline is a great opportunity to get involved in a serious line of work. “Trainees get high levels of responsibility from day one”, she said, “and have a direct impact on the lives of vulnerable children”. In the first year of the programme, trainees will learn the basic skills of being a social worker. They will begin by being supervised by an experienced social worker, and as they develop their skills through the year they will begin to hold responsibility for their own cases. In the second year, they will have qualified as a social worker, and there will be a focus on developing leadership skills, with participants being given more responsibilities such as chairing meetings with different agencies (like police, schools etc.). Throughout this process, they will be learning invaluable skills on a daily basis by working directly with children and families. Considering the high-risk nature of social work, those undertaking the programme will receive constant support from trained, highly experienced social workers every step of the way. In addition to this, they will also have access to experienced tutors, who will come in to support the training with various workshops and classes. The 2-year graduate scheme is paid, and in the second year those on the programme have the opportunity to work towards completing a Masters in Social Work, which is fully funded.

Answering my question about who is best suited for Frontline, Katie said that they don’t ask for a lot of experience. A 2:1 degree is a requirement, and applicants must demonstrate competence in IT and spoken and written English. Any degree is acceptable, except social work degrees as graduates of those courses are already qualified to carry out social work. “Good world understanding, and an ability to demonstrate empathy” are also needed, as well as “confidence and leadership potential so [applicants] can make difficult decisions and use sound judgement”. Applicants must be “committed to the job, they really need to want to work with the children” and commit to the training (which involves 210 days on the job in the 1st year), said Katie. Undergrads in their final year, master’s students, PhDs and career changers are all welcome to apply.

Social work is a vital profession that really makes a positive impact on countless vulnerable children and families. With Frontline, graduates have the opportunity to become trained social workers and make a difference by directly working with families and getting first-hand, on the job training and experience.

Students interested in applying for the paid 2-year graduate scheme should apply online, at www.thefrontline.org.uk. The deadline for applications is 21st November.

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