Wakefield care-leaver reveals how children’s social workers helped change his life

Monday, March 18, 2024


A care leaver from Wakefield has described how the support he received from his social workers has helped him transform his life. 

Ryan Branson from Wakefield is speaking about his positive experiences, to highlight Social Work Week (18-22 March) and World Social Work Day (19 March).

The aim is to raise awareness about the profession and encourage others to take up the role.

Hear  Ryan talk about his positive experiences at Children's Social Work Matters (childrenssocialworkmatters.org)

Ryan, who is now in his third year of a social work degree, was placed into foster care with Wakefield Council of at the age of ten.

This was after he experienced periods of neglect, domestic violence and emotional abuse in the family home. He recalled being taken into emergency care and said: 

“It was a Friday night and I remember feeling anxious, frightened and distressed. But in that moment, one of the social workers turned up having gone back to my house to pick up some of my belongings and I felt a glimmer of reassurance.

"This is something I’ve never forgotten and up until that point in my life this was one of the kindest things anyone had ever done for me.“

During his childhood, social workers were the one constant in his life. 

Ryan said: “What I took from them, was first and foremost, kindness and honesty. I felt scared about being taken into care. But in reality, going into care was the best thing that ever happened to me.” 

When he left foster care Ryan’s leaving care worker arranged financial aid to get him through university.

She gave words of encouragement and reassurance. Like praising him when he’d done well on assignments, because he didn’t have parents who could do that for him.

His experiences have led him to his current role.

Ryan said: “A big part of the reason I chose to work at Wakefield Council was because of the many positive relationships I’d built with my social workers and other professionals. It might sound like a cliché, but it is like being part of a big family.”

Social Work Week is a campaign that is backed by all 15 of the region’s Local Authority children’s services departments. 

“Children’s social workers up and down the country are helping to shape and change the lives of vulnerable children, young people and their families for the better, often under the most desperate of circumstances. But a lot of the positive work they do is not known about.

“Their job is about protecting vulnerable children, making sure their voices are heard and that they are safe, well and seen.”

Cllr Margaret Isherwood

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Cllr Margaret Isherwood

Placing a child into foster care is always a last resort. The Council’s job is to try and keep families together wherever possible. Social workers work closely with at-risk families, so that they too can access the right help and support.

Care leavers like Ryan are sharing their stories to break down some of the barriers and misconceptions that exist. And the aims are to spark the interest of those who think they have the right skills and qualities to help a family or young person in need.


Find out about becoming a children’s social worker at Wakefield Council at: Join our children's social worker team - Wakefield Council

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