Kelly is the Children and Young Person’s lead at Norwich Connect, where she works with young people affected by domestic abuse to keep them safe, learn about healthy relationships and to be a voice for the child within whole family support. She also works with their parents to help them build better relationships with their children and to keep their family safe.
Kelly’s career has always focused on supporting others; with a background in drug and alcohol services as well as domestic abuse services. Her passion for children and young people developed whilst working in refuge, where she saw a need for support directly for children. 6 years ago Kelly specialised as a Children and Young People’s worker and joined Norwich Connect at the very start of the project over 2 years ago.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
I’ve always worked in a field that’s had an impact on my personal life. Watching a friend being impacted by substance misuse drove me to start my career in drug and alcohol services. I transitioned to domestic abuse due to my own personal experiences – by seeing the importance and need for support services, I wanted to be able to give back.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
The team, it’s got to be the team. They’re really supportive and full of knowledge, they remind me we’re not doing this alone and I can always rely on them for help and encouragement. My kids are also a huge part of what keeps me going – they’re able to get me out of my head after a tough day, and they remind me what I do it all for.
What is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward as a Children and Young People’s Worker?
As challenging as some of the things I have to see and deal with when working with young people, the biggest challenge in working with young people is getting parents to engage fully in support, so you can provide the best support possible for the child. I always want to do the most I can for a child, and it can be challenging when it feels I’m not able to do all that I could do.
That being said; one of the biggest rewards is being able to be the voice for the children. When you’re a voice for the child, they get heard. I’m involved in a lot of multi-agency and whole family support which often heavily involves the parents voices when working to keep the family safe and to move forward. I love being able to bring the child’s voice into the mix and help create plans and support where the whole family are able to have their input. The other biggest reward is seeing a change in a young person further down the line, knowing you’ve made a difference.
What are you most proud of so far?
Being a single mum whilst holding down a full time job and knowing you can do things on your own, even though it’s difficult. My kids are everything to me, but being able to both be a mum and work full time in a role where I can help people and make a difference means so much to me. I’m also proud of the fact that I’m still learning, that it’s not too late in life to go back into education and to keep learning.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
Do some voluntary work before getting involved if possible – whilst working in domestic abuse can be so rewarding, it can have a huge impact on your personal wellbeing as it can be very intense. Having a good knowledge and understanding of domestic abuse really helps and having some hands-on experience before choosing this career really helps you understand what it’s all about.
Kelly's colleague said "Since Sept 2018, Kelly has proved a key and pivotal role in launching the Children and Young People’s work within Norwich Connect. She helped set this up from nothing (we only had laptops and a bare office when we started). The impact report written by Nany and Jen in the research team highlights that since we launched Kelly has proved a key role in launching the service and helping it to evolve. Her knowledge and experience have been key in helping the Norwich Connect pilot to be a success. She is able to build rapport which clients considered “hard to reach”, provides challenge to Social Care around how best to keep the children safe, helps parents to understand the impact of DA and provides a solution focused approach."
Do you know a professional who has gone above and beyond to change the response to domestic abuse and keep survivors and their families safe? Nominate someone for Star of the Month by emailing email@example.com with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line.