In all areas of my life I think safeguarding is the most important aspect. From parenting, to residential youth worker and in sports. Some times this can be big things, often it’s little things. Some times it’s reacting to huge issues others it’s supporting wellbeing and welfare. Some times an ear and a coffee, sign posting or contacting other agencies.
It’s an area that I have been actively involved in since I started working in the public sector 30 years ago. I undertake the mandatory training and renewals but I also do other additional training, things that I believe can teach me to be better for those who need me in any of the areas of my life.
Those closest to me know the biggest piece of work here is something I have been doing for over 3 years, it’s massive and involves a lot of people, it grows almost constantly, people being pointed towards me to add context to what I have, years and years of experiences and issues told to me. Some just do that, they want nothing more than to feel someone has listened when previously they believed no one has. Others need ongoing support and the most important part of this is ensuring that there is the right professional help and I am then just part of their team of support. Mental health professionals are key but my ears are there to help. Not just those who come to me to explain their story but their families who often feel they should have seen something that they missed, and now feel guilt.
I can understand this as I carry it too, I missed what was happening to my child whilst I was busy supporting others.
There are days this is so incredibly draining and I am left emotionally and mentally exhausted and I am grateful to another safeguarding officer who sits and let’s me debrief with them, but also others who support me, they don’t need me to share details but they know I give and give to support these people, to be the person who hasn’t walked away.
Why might others have turned away? It’s hard, the massive issue needs so much work from so many people to change what’s happening. That level of energy and fight is hard to carry every day. I have considered walking away more than once, but I am struck with the fact that if I do, I am another person who has let these people down and who else will fight?
I have sought advice from the right places, agencies etc and I am at my next step, I don’t have many left and the last big step is one I hope I do not have to take because I hope that it can be dealt with without me taking that step.
Imagine as a safeguarding officer declaring yourself as vulnerable, on 3 separate occasions in 18 months, and not receiving the support or care for your well-being but yet I am expected to reassure those who have come to me that the support is there to be found?
I have repeatedly advised that my PTSD, anxiety and my ability to seriously overthink any situation means that we have to try, where we can, to manage the available opportunities for me to reach out when information is dumped on me.
Yesterday was another example of how the repeated lack of attention to this can impact me on a massive scale. A situation I am not aware of seeing a letter emailed to me at the end of business on a Friday. I opened it with no idea of what I would find as I am waiting on contact from that very team regarding my latest communication on this massive issue I am dealing with. Yet when I opened it, it hit me like a brick wall, because it was something new that sent me spinning, that required a response, but that saw me have no ability to reach out with my questions.
I sent my response, I had to, in an attempt to stop that spiralling that I have repeatedly asked for support to prevent. Had I been able to reach out and ask a couple of questions I could have dealt with it smoothly and calmly, but that was denied me. So now I wait, with just the serious overthinking to keep me company for however long this will take.
Thank you to those who have stepped in and supported me in the last 20 hours, never do I take you for granted, but I am certainly stronger because I have you here. It’s also shown me that whilst I am vulnerable I am, most definitely, stronger than October 21-October 22.
Take care of yourselves please.