I came to this job from having newly graduated from my social work degree, after having spent over ten years working in the health and social care sector.
Six of these years were spent in the employ of the City of Edinburgh Council as a support worker for young people with mental health issues.
I also spent several years working as a carer for older adults with a variety of needs, whether practical, emotional or, in some cases, palliative.
Whether supporting young adolescents on their journey to mental health recovery, or in helping older people to enrich their own lives in whatever way I could, I was able to take a measure of insight into what generally matters most to human beings, regardless of whether they were towards the beginning of their lives or in their latter (sometimes final) stages. This insight largely consists of one thing: the necessity of the individual having not only a sense of meaning and connectedness to their environment but, crucially, to those others who inhabit it.
My first day at St Andrew’s Children’s Society
And so, on my first day as the newest member of the Edinburgh branch of the St Andrew’s Children’s Society, I sat at my new desk and was struck by a number of different realities.
The first was that, from what I could gather from my new workmates, the environment here was at one point altogether different. Sadly, as has been the case with so many spheres of our lives, Covid-19 has laid waste to many of the pleasantries and comforts that inhabit one’s working environment that can often go unnoticed:
- The gentle hustling and bustling of people
- The regular ‘office-cooler’ chit-chats
- Potential sources of training and development
- The dulcet tones of a workmate in full Abba flow
At best, these kinds of interactions can be invaluable to a newly-inducted member of staff keen to learn how an organisation operates.
At worst, it can simply provide amusement, or possibly a degree of concern regarding a colleague’s musical tendencies.
The second is that, at no point since my school days, have I been able to call my desk my own (even if only because it bore my etchings or misplaced chewing gum). It always strikes me as humorous the misnomer of the term ‘hot-desking’ to make my blood run ice-cold.
A slightly spooky coincidence!
In a similar vein, and quite by chance, I am writing this in the week leading up to Halloween, and have happened upon a bulletin from the Transilvania University of Braşov, entitled Workspace Appropriation and Attachment (2016). As the name suggests, this piece identifies a positive attachment between individuals and their physical work spaces, and the psychological benefits this gives individuals, and how it positively affects their overall sense of belonging, utility and resilience in their work.
Things are beginning to return to normal in the office
Now almost 20 months on from the beginning of the pandemic, things are beginning to return to normal, both in terms of wider society and within this agency. Many of us who are able to have now begun to return to office with increasing regularity. The duty phone is once again ringing, adoptive parents, foster carers and children are making face-to-face visits, and, Covid-19 permitting, we are hoping to start delivering groups and training events in-person in the foreseeable future.
Every cloud has a silver lining
When I look back at my first few weeks as a new start, it now strikes me that meeting my new colleagues in dribs and drabs was possibly a silver lining. Being somewhat shy, not only was this less intimidating, but in some ways it felt all the more enjoyable. With such diversity of personalities, talents and quirkiness inherent in each team member, it gave me just one more thing to look forward to each day, yet another day when I could ask
“Who will I meet today?”
“What’s their story?”
“How did they come to be here?”
Almost fourteen weeks in…
Now, having been here for almost fourteen weeks, I am a bit less new, and have come to know not only of the ways in which each of my colleagues is different, but of the traits and qualities they have in common:
- Their individual imprints on this agency
- The fulfilment they have in their work
- Their same unwavering focus in finding and maintaining secure and loving homes for children waiting to be fostered or adopted
- Their contribution to an ever-evolving story of the wider family here at the St Andrew’s Children’s Society
Such contributions that I can only hope to emulate.
If you would like to find out more about adopting or fostering a child through St Andrew’s Children’s Society please call 0131 454 3370 or email email@example.com.