NAME: RACHEL GREEN, 30
DEGREE/UNIVERSITY: BA LAW AND WELFARE, UNIVERSITY OF KENT; DIPLOMA IN SOCIAL WORK, ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY
OCCUPATION: SOCIAL WORKER (ASYLUM TEAM) BOROUGH OF HOUNSLOW, LONDON
What do you do in your job?
I work with unaccompanied asylum seekers under the age of 18. When children and young people arrive in the UK without any family they are referred to asylum teams, like the one I work for. We meet them and assess their needs, and work with them over a longer period to ensure that they are properly cared for. This can range from finding appropriate accommodation and ensuring that their educational needs are looked after to assessing whether they need therapy to deal with any trauma. My job involves using a wide range of non-verbal ways of communication to overcome any language barriers.
What was your motivation in applying?
After university I worked as a legal adviser. I was heavily involved in the advocacy side of things, representing asylum seekers in Oakington Reception Centre in Cambridgeshire, which is a facility run by the Immigration and Nationality Department (IND) of the Home Office, to process asylum seekers. I enjoyed giving people a voice and became interested in social work because I wanted to support people through the asylum process. After taking a two-year diploma I applied directly to Hounslow Council for a job on the asylum team and was accepted.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy doing creative work with young people. For example, arranging a sports event, or a party. Because English isn’t their first language it’s important that they are given a chance to interact, to meet people in a similar situation and be involved in something active or social. It can be really rewarding to see young people expressing themselves and being included in a positive activity.
Most challenging part of the job?
It can be very difficult dealing with people through the immigration process. Ultimately that process will decide whether they stay in the UK or not and it’s a big thing hanging over someone’s head.
There can be a lot of administration. The area is heavily monitored and we have a lot of forms to fill out to ensure that all the assessment is standardised.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field?
If you decide that you want to work with people you need to make sure that you like them. So get some experience. Don’t do it if you aren’t a calm person as you’ll always need to be patient.