A Support Worker works with children and/or families to support them with practical advice for various situations.
Applicants in the post of Support Worker will need to show that they have the skills and experience for this post, so to prepare for this role it is useful to undertake paid or voluntary work with a family community centre, children’s home or a refuge centre. Many employers will also ask for a Level 3 qualification in the areas of childcare, social care, counselling, youth work or education. It is possible to enter the post with Level 2 qualifications, but you will need to have a lot of experience working with children and families to support your application.
The employer will also need to carry out background checks because a Support Worker works with children and families, so applicants will need to be prepared for this.
Support Worker may advice on marital or financial difficulties, or if a family member is in prison. Advice on drug addiction, and support to those with language barriers may also be needed.
Alongside practical advice, a Support Worker will also provide emotional support and will be expected to be able to handle difficult conversations in a sympathetic but confident way. Families will usually be referred to a Support Worker by a Social Worker, and it may be expected that you work with parents to teach them how to manage the family budget and teach their children through play. You will be expected to work with parents to show them this until they can do it for themselves. In other situations, a parent may need to go into hospital so you would be with the family for a short period of time until the parent is out of hospital.
Related: Support Worker Cover Letter
The working hours are typically around 37 per week, although flexibility will be needed especially for those working with children. It may be that you work with families early in the morning before school hours, or sometimes at the weekends. Some employers may also ask that you have a driving license, as you may need to visit families at their homes or sometimes attend court.
Skills and Training Development
A Support Worker will need to have caring skills and a lot of patience and understanding. Families will naturally learn things quicker or more slowly than others, so the individual in post will need to understand this and adapt their support plans accordingly. You may also need to adapt your support style to the family in terms of how you communicate with them and teach them.
Once employed, your employer will give you training straight away and cover topics such as legal guidelines, assessment methods, child protection issues, health and safety, and recognising drug abuse and domestic violence. Support Workers will be expected to develop their knowledge and skills, so it is worth discussing this with your employer. For those with degrees, postgraduate courses in child and family studies are available.
A starting salary in this role would be around £18,000, although with time and experience this can rise to around £30,000 – £35,000.