Eventually the big day came. Rory didn’t sleep much the night before, the mixture of relief at finally having a new job and a new chapter in his life, mixed with the relief at hopefully being able to pay some of the bills that living requires, and not having got too far into debt since mums job had evaporated. As well as knowing mum would also begin to feel the benefits of not having the ever-nagging worry that not earning can bring with it.
Mum incidentally hadn’t managed to find a job yet, but she was looking harder now than ever. They both figured two incomes was better than one, no matter what happened.
Very soon Rory’s excitement became mixed with overwhelm. There seemed to be so much to do in childcare. The house manager had tried to keep the amount of paperwork that needs to be done as friendly as possible, but she was keen to make sure he knew that childcare wasn’t just visits to the park and playing games, although there was a fair bit of that. Working files, daily logs, incident logs keyworking, contact sheets, handovers and medicine administration records were just mindblowing, and that was before he even got to the induction.
He’d spent his first few days reading files about the children that he would be looking after: big heavy files, a lot had happened to these children before they even got to a children home. As he read the files the evidence for abuse, neglect and mistreatment these children had endured beggared belief. He had never known this kind of thing happened. He knew that children’s home existed, but the only pervading reality was that these children didn’t know how to behave. As one of the training leaders had said, ’these were the strategies the children had developed to survive, and that for most, the adults were the enemy and responsible for all the trauma they had received’.
That was an eye opener.
At least the house manager had explained he wouldn’t be expected to learn all these requirements at once, they would build up over time and before he knew it, he would be doing it anyway.
Rory was very enthusiastic about his new role. As many novices are, he was desperate for the children to like him. He wanted to be their friend. Whilst there must be an element of that, after all support work is very much relationship based, the primary part of the job is to help the children make ‘good’ choices, when often, that’s the last thing they want to do.
No sooner had he begun to start feeling like he had a basic understanding of how the home worked, and that included day to day chores such as hoovering, washing up and cleaning the bathrooms for example, as well as all the paperwork, jobs he had never actually done in his own home, and he was off for the official induction process. Life at this moment was a bit of a whirlwind.
The induction included training on safeguarding, positive handling, trauma, fostering, attachment, as well as a trip around the inhouse school. Pretty intense. Whilst on a trip around the school one of the tutors looked at him a little ‘knowingly’ when he called out to one of the children he was going to be supporting, ‘Yo, fam. You alright?’ His enthusiasm was met with a look. The child probably just thought, ‘here’s another one.’
Rory was beginning to settle into the routine within the house. He’d never sat at a table with eight people before, well not on a regular basis, especially when 4 of them were slightly dysregulated to say the least. One just grunted and didn’t speak at all, another just said obscenities regardless of what was done or said, another didn’t speak, and the other one just refused to eat. He figured, all a bit daft really, because the food was really good, his team members could really cook. He was getting used to the long duration hours, and understood the need for them. The evening routines required to settle the children and get them up in the morning. Who was supposed to do what and when. These houses are a little bit like, he imagined, what an army barracks might be like. The children certainly lived in a kind of ‘big brother’ situation, every move recorded and logged. That was a little strange, however, he was beginning to settle into the routine of life in a children’s home.
He’d had a meeting with the house manager at the end of every week to discuss his progress and address any concerns he had, so he didn’t think anything of it when his manager called him into the office on a Wednesday.
The deputy was there as well, that was a little strange, but hey, he was doing alright.
His manager said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you Rory, that I’m going to have to put you on suspension. One of the children has made an allegation against you. Do you understand what I have just said?’
Rory’s world came crashing down!!!
Simon Pollard Urban Countryman December 2023