In the month that we launched our Health Professional Network for alumni working in sectors related to health care, sports science, psychology, social work, or with a interest in social, physical and mental well-being, we have been delighted to hear your stories.
In this article we share the story of Jackie Yaskey (Social Policy and Administration 1992, and Social Work, 1994). Jackie reached out after she was nominated as an Amazing Social Worker through the British Association of Social Workers.
Jackie shares with us her memories of being a student at Hull, including the formative experience of volunteering, her reasons for going into social work, and her thoughts about the future of social work in a post-pandemic world.
I have very happy memories of my time at the university and when I think of Hull, it is always with great fondness. I studied Social Policy and Administration for my undergraduate degree and then decided to remain in Hull to complete my social work training. During my time at Hull, I volunteered for the Education and Welfare service and this experience provided a firm foundation for training in social work. I would support students whose grants were late, dealt with student housing issues such as landlords refusing to undertake repairs along with more sensitive issues such as counselling a student around their options for an unwanted pregnancy. I really enjoyed the varied nature of the work and feeling that I was making a difference in students’ lives. Through the Education and Welfare service I developed firm friendships which have lasted more than thirty years. I also volunteered with HUSSO and was a volunteer for the reading scheme supporting primary school children in a school in Cottingham
I wanted to go into Social Work following a sixth form work experience with young people in a childrens home in my home town of Coventry. Though challenging, I found the experience rewarding and I wanted to support and encourage young people to achieve their full potential and not let their background hinder them in achieving this. When I qualified as a social worker in 1992, my plan was to always become a lecturer in Social work so that I could train social workers of the future. I needed to obtain hands on social work experience and so I moved to London and worked as a Children and Families Social Worker in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. I later moved to co-ordinating a respite care scheme for children with Disabilities in Westminster Council. I have also worked for a charity supporting foster carers and looked after children.
During this time, I supervised and taught students on social work placements which confirmed my passion to become a lecturer in social work.
I have been a senior Lecturer in social work at the University of Greenwich since 2007. I think my approach which is appreciated by students centres around the fact that I promote the student perspective and appreciate the many competing demands that students have nowadays. I seek to be open and transparent in my dealings with students and I use humour to sometimes get a point across which I think students appreciate. I demonstrate a calm and measured approach in the delivery of my teaching, and I think that students find me approachable.
The challenges faced by the next generation of social workers are huge particularly amid a global pandemic. The accelerated move to virtual visits to service users has been challenging and social workers have had to manage the risks of not being able to regularly see a service user due to Covid restrictions. Newly qualified social workers need to be creative and resourceful in using limited resources to support service users. A further challenge in statutory services is the large caseloads and the difficulties of balancing the needs of the authority against doing direct social work with service users. I am however, pleased to see that social workers are finally being recognised for the work that we do and the complex nature of that work.
I have found social work to be a varied and rewarding profession but I would say to social workers of the future that it is also a very demanding role and it is important for you to maintain your wellbeing in order to be effective in your role.