I’ve worked as a PA in the 16+ team for almost 7 years and it has its ups and downs.
There are times when it feels like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I need to do for my young people. It’s difficult to explain to someone who needs housing now, or money to buy food now, or any other really urgent issue, that there might be other young people in their situation as well, who also need something now.
But maybe that’s one of the most difficult things about growing up in care; that you sometimes feel like nobody helps, understands or listens, that maybe it’s just a job to your PA or social worker and that they go home at the end of it. And of course this is true. It is a job being a PA or social worker but it’s not just a job. I think one of the most important things which differentiates adults form kids is responsibility; either taking responsibility for what you do, the choices you make, or knowing that, as a child, there isn’t so much expectation that you will have to take that responsibility.
So we all have to make choices and take responsibility for the choices we make. As an adult I’ve made a choice to work as PA in 16+, I could have made other choices but I haven’t. That’s why it’s more than just a job, because I know that having made the choice to work in this job part of the responsibility is knowing that I’ll never be able to do as much as my young people need me to. It’s a fact of life that we can’t always get what we want but working as a PA in 16+ highlights this. I would love to be able to give all my young people everything they want when they want it. But if I could do this I’d be working a 25 hour day and have to be able to go back in time. I can’t do that, all I can do is my best but it’s hard when you know that sometimes even that isn’t going to be enough.
The very few times that I see a young person I’ve worked with leaving us, getting on with their life, getting a job, starting a family or doing what makes them happy, then that’s what makes it worth it. Even better if I meet someone a few years later and they say hello, let me know how they’re getting on ok. You have to care to work in 16+, there’s no other way.