So you want to help people? Maybe you’ve come to the end of your degree and want to change the world, maybe you fancy a career change and feel like this is the route for you, or maybe you are in high school and just know that you want to help make the world a better place. Great! We need more people like you, but let us tell you about some of the lessons we have learned about support services.
1. There is an inter-group cliquey-ness that is almost on par with high school.
2. Breaking through that cliquey-ness is hard, but every so often you meet others working support services who are really excited about the addition of more support services and you will feel like this:
3. The truth is that all support services are just trying to get by and do their best.
4. Sometimes people are right to question support services: acting ethically, keeping up-to-date with research and support strategies for the people they are working with, and proceeding with the right intentions are all important.
5. But it can feel very isolating when people scream about the lack of services, and don’t acknowledge all (or any) of the services in place.
6. In truth, people aren’t complaining about the lack of services, they are complaining because they can’t find them. All Towns and Cities don’t have a centralised area to advertise support services and it’s not even included in newspapers on a regular basis. But what would the world be like if we started to see support services and anything that helps with self-care as being as necessary as the local supermarket?
7. The people who come to you for support are often so disillusioned by the support systems in place that they will expect absolutely nothing of you. In fact, they often expect that you will make their situation worse.
8. You will have to work harder than you ever have (no two cases are ever alike) to do so, but when / if you do eventually earn their trust then it’s as if a whole new world opens up for you and them.
9. The leaps that people make with the right support is astonishing and if you are lucky enough to be the right support for the client concerned or even help to find them the right support for them, it is just amazing.
10. Sometimes, people don’t get it; if you’re working with kids then people can relate….if you work with adults you’re often met with blank stares. That disconnect means that people see difficulty, mental health problems, chronic illness, neurodiversity and disability as something that is acceptable to acknowledge in childhood, but in adulthood all that can be mustered is a blank stare unless it ends up, somehow affecting them.
kkjkjkjlkl11. The moments when you realise that the structures in place have disappeared because of poor funding, were never there in the first place or are damaging and ineffective because of in-house politics or apathy are always mind-boggling and infuriating.
12. People will assume you are a social worker, which in turn assumes that you have a fixed income regardless of whether you have clients or not. (This is not the case). P.S. Not hating on social workers, they do an incredibly valuable job, but we’re not the same.
13. Health Professionals will be very suspicious of you. “So you say that you studied psychology/sociology/social care/politics/law? Why are you in this line of work?”, Their questions can be answered by a quick internet search (eye roll). P.S. never answer “because I want to help people”. It’s a trap!
14. People don’t realise how passionate we are about empowering the people that we work with, and there is nothing that any cliquey-ness, in-house politics or weird questions can do to bring us down or stop us. Because it’s not about us, the support workers, it’s about our clients; the people who have dreams and aspirations and are as deserving of help in achieving those goals as everyone else.