Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A week in the life of an adoption and fostering trainer

At BAAF we provide training for professionals in adoption and fostering. Here we give you a glimpse into their busy lives and the contribution they make to children separated from their birth families. We start off this week with the highs and lows of Andy Sayers, a trainer in BAAF's Southern Division.


Monday.
Travelled to Exeter today for a Child Appreciation Day (CAD) training session for Devon County Council. As many people who have known the child as possible are invited to a CAD to contribute anecdotes and memories to pass on to prospective adopters. The facilitator takes people on a guided journey of the child’s life and asks them to see it from a child’s perspective. I did the first part of the training last year and stayed in a lovely B&B in Totnes, where I had a great curry and bought myself a ukulele. This time I’m staying in a Holiday Inn on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere.

Tuesday.
The venue for the CAD training is a disused secondary school. It’s swelteringly hot and participants have to bring their own lunch. How times have changed!

The training goes really well, however, and everyone is enthusiastic about putting plans into action. I later hear from the organiser of the day that several participants (including managers) remarked that it was the best training they have ever had. (Note to self: ask BAAF for a rise).

I finally get home at 10pm.Take out the Devon training packs and replace with ones for Milton Keynes Council.

Wednesday.
IRM (Independent Review Mechanism) training for Milton Keynes today. The IRM is a service where people can appeal fostering and adoption decisions. The training was for fostering panel members and social workers, to inform them of the structure and workings of the IRM and how it may affect them.

Before I leave the house I do a training inventory. Training packs plus pens etc – check! Laptop – check! Projector – check! Speakers – check! Extra leads – check! Train tickets and venue map - check! The older I get the more checks I have to do. I really worry about forgetting things, like the training day itself or turning up in the right place at the wrong time or vice versa.

Getting on the train to Milton Keynes and I show my ticket to inspectors. They ask to see my charity ID as my ticket had been booked through their Charity Line (a discounted service for people who work for charities). I have never been asked for this before and have to rummage around in my work bag for any ID. Eventually I managed to find a crumpled business card, which after a lot of pleading, was accepted. I get on the train by the skin of my teeth.

On arrival at Milton Keynes my ticket would not go through the machine. I’m told by another Virgin employee that my ticket was only valid for travel after 9am. Since I was travelling before then I would have to pay another £76. I explained that I had paid for an 8.20am seat reservation, so how could this happen. His response: ”Seat reservations and tickets are not connected.” When arguing that maybe Virgin should not have sold me this ticket, he replied: “It is your responsibility to check!” After causing a big tailback he reluctantly lets me through with a wagging of his finger.

I get in a cab with a very chatty driver and gave him my map. As it was a very hot and stuffy day we had the windows open. All of a sudden a suicidal pigeon came zooming through my open window and landed by my side. After both screaming (that’s me and the driver, not the pigeon – although he/she may well have screamed in ‘pidgin English’) the driver pulled over. I opened the door and we bade farewell to a confused but otherwise ok pigeon.

I arrived safely at my training and was directed to the room. I started setting up my equipment and waited for the people to begin to arrive. As people start to filter in one of the participants approaches me and asks why was I running this group for women only? I explained that in my training men are usually outnumbered 20:1.She looked at me strangely and began talking to the others. Then the penny dropped - I had been shown to the wrong venue and was in the roomfor the 'women's group'!

In the end the training was well attended and well received. There was a nice lunch too!

Thursday.
Off to Barnet today to meet a social worker to plan the facilitation of a Child Appreciation Day. The meeting goes well and boosts my faith in social work. Here was a social worker fully informed and up to date. She spoke about three young children with true passion and was a real advocate for them.

Friday.
Working from home today –phew! This gives me time to go through the feedback sheets from training, email the people who commissioned the training with comments and see if they require anything else. I write up my notes from the Barnet meeting and email the social worker, plus her manager, to say how impressed I was by her knowledge and commitment.

At 4pm I get a text from a friend asking if I’m free for a game of tennis at 5pm - you bet! It’s my wife’s birthday party tomorrow– 28 people for a Keralan curry and a birthday cake shaped like a pair of running shoes.


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