Tommy, a former public policy professional, found himself at a crossroads in his career. He wanted a deeper connection with the people affected by the policies he helped shape. The desire to understand the daily challenges faced by disadvantaged communities led him to embark on a remarkable journey into the world of social work by joining the Frontline programme.
I don't think I knew what social work was until my third year of university. I'd always been more interested in the politics and policy side of things. But I ended up feeling that it was quite indirect with some of the work that I was doing, and I'd get to the end of the day, written thousands of words but I wouldn't really know what I'd actually done.
I felt very detached from the people the policies were being designed to help, and wanted to have more of an understanding about the challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis. That’s what drew me to social work. Social work was an opportunity to do something a bit more direct and make a real impact.
It can be really challenging but you don't have boring days. I'm always amazed by how willing people are to let you in, have a coffee and talk about what's happening. People are often angry and upset and they're in some of the most difficult points in their life. But I think that the reward pays off because it’s stressful, there’s high stakes, you're in those really difficult situations but when you do get a success or it goes well, then that's a really good success and you've earned it.
I work with teenagers that are so bright, but because of their circumstances they’re using their intelligence to run successful drugs businesses in their local area. Given the chance, they 100% have the potential to go to top universities and be successful. It’s not because of a lack of intelligence, but a lack of access and support. I think that's why I like working with teenagers –- they're at a point in their life where even a really small change makes a massive difference. So even if you've managed to persuade them that I can drive them into college just for one morning to see if they like it, and then they end up staying. It’s rewarding. Through my training on the Frontline programme, I get to do something more and tackle real challenges.
Frontline are currently recruiting for the Frontline programme across the region in Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton & Worcestershire. To find out more and apply, view the advert on WMJobs before it closes on Friday 8 December.