I was quickly welcomed by an extremely friendly and strangely funny team, quick to tell me about each of their individual quirks and idiosyncrasies and quizzing me about mine, to which I shyly responded with a couple.
The week started off slow, a few introductions and getting my head around the case note system.
Then suddenly it went into warp speed, being given 3.5 cases to start off with, one of which not even my manager could get her head around entirely, to which she said "welcome to the team".
I was secretly happy that I was already trusted enough to be given a caseload even though I was meant to be case-free for 2 weeks, but I wasn't sure if I would be regretting it at a later date.
Being new, both to the team and as a social worker, I noticed a couple of things which although I was aware of previously, felt strange seeing it and experiencing it face to face.
One: the fear and dislike of social workers by families, even though as a team we are about "strengthening families" and do not necessarily deal with child protection cases unless we need to take one to conference.
Two: the need to protect ourselves as social workers, as a result of this fear and dislike by our families, to the point where I felt the need to lock my car with me inside it, as I was fiddling with the satnav outside a youth centre after a meeting.
I shadowed in total about 5-6 home visits and meetings this week and in every single one, there was an exclamation by a family member that they hate social workers, and two incidents where there was potential for the safety of a team member to be compromised.
It made me think: is this worth it?
Having to think about what car you should be driving in case it gets broken into or damaged, where you should be parking when you do home visits, making sure the door closes and locks behind you whenever you enter the office, remembering how to de-escalate a situation, particularly when you're on your own, thoughts that don't really cross your mind daily in other professions.
Saying that, another thing I noticed from my colleagues was the love of what we do, working with children and parents and seeing how the work you do can actually be the difference between a broken family, disappointed in themselves, broken hearted parents and feelings of abandonment for the child living as a child of the state, and a strengthened family unit, with a deeper insight into the successful functioning of the family, with thriving children.
I'm sure there will be many moments where I will be questioning my reasons for completely changing my career path to become a human punch bag, but I also know that although families and children may not want us, they do need us, and most eventually do come round to realising this.
Next Week: My first independent home visit and two initial assessments!