Please join us in welcoming Heather Mulholland as our Principal Social Worker in our East Midlands Region. Heather is joining us with a wide range of experience in children in care. She is excited to join us as a permanent employee in The CFT team.
Heather has been working in a variety of independent roles within The CFT for the past 8 years. Before joining our East Midlands region, she worked with us as a freelance Social Worker for our West Midlands region and has carried out many form-f assessments. Prior to her career in Social Work, Heather has worked in a number of care environments including secure units for young men with autism and challenging behaviour.
We took some time to sit with Heather (virtually) to get to know her better and find out how she feels after joining The CFT permanently, during the pandemic.
Tell us something about yourself, Heather?
“Hi, I’m Heather Mulholland. I am the Principal Social Worker for the East Midlands. I am also a very proud mum to my beautiful son, named Boe. He is two and together we live in Leicester. Outside of work I enjoy keeping fit and am a regular visitor to our local CrossFit box. I have a dog named Tilly and alongside my son, we love to take her for days out on walks. I am fortunate to share a very close relationship to my family and we love socialising and try to meet whenever we can. I have always had a curious and adventurous spirit, so when I get the chance I love exploring different cities, countries and cultures. My maternal family are from Bologna and my love of Italy is inherent and we try to visit at least once a year.”
What inspired you to pursue the career you have today? What motivates you at work?
“I would say that I have been born and raised within the social work arena. My mum has had a long-standing and esteemed career in social work and we share a very close relationship to one another. Consequently, I learnt early on in my own childhood about the misfortunes and traumas that other children endure and I learnt vicariously through her work, how effective support, kindness and compassion can change the lives of many children and young people.
After dropping out of my A-Levels, I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to pursue in terms of a career. Subsequently I was encouraged to enter the world of work and quickly worked out what it was that I didn’t want to do. This was an invaluable life lesson and experience for me and along the way I learnt that the greatest satisfaction I gained within various job roles was through caring for others. Whether that be from my work as a community care worker for the elderly or my time at a secure residential unit for young men who were profoundly disabled and nonverbal.
I came to the conclusion that nurturing others, engaging with people and genuinely making a difference, however big or small to another person’s life was my greatest motivator and passion. This triggered my return to higher education and the completion of my social work degree at The University of Nottingham in 2012. Since that time I have worked within a multitude of social work settings, primarily based within fostering and have continued to learn, evolve and grow both professionally and personally.
I have always had a passion to improve the life chances and opportunities for children and young people and this remains the purpose and drive for my practice. I would also add that since entering the wonderful world of motherhood and continuing to wade my way through its many life lessons, I have further grown both professionally and personally and like to think that my style of practice has evolved to be reflective and inclusive of this.”
What attracted you to the role at The CFT?
“I have worked for CFT as an independent assessor and Consultant for over eight years. Prior to taking on the development of the east midlands region, I supported with the assessment and approval of west midlands carers.
The opportunity to develop a new region for The Trust attracted me primarily as I have enjoyed the working partnerships that have developed with the organisation over the span of my career. The Trust’s values and non for profit, child centred ethics have and continue to resonate with me and are reflective of how I practice professionally and my value base personally.
I felt confident that the experience, knowledge and skill set I have developed over my career would enable me to carry the development on to make a success of the fifth region. I also relished the opportunity for a ‘new’ challenge and the opportunity to develop new skills and develop positive working partnerships with potential foster carers and local authorities within the east midlands. I remain incredibly passionate about recruiting foster carers whose passion for making a positive change for a child is not seen as just a ‘job’ but their vocation in life. Over my years of working for the Trust I have assessed many amazing families who go on to ‘absorb’ foster children into their home and lives, effectively becoming their family and provide them with life experiences that they would never have imagined.
To date, the region is going from strength to strength. The rate of development and the landscape of carers has evolved rapidly but organically over the past eighteen months. We have some incredible families in assessment that come with wealth and breath of life experiences that will stand them in good stead for the challenges ahead. I can easily say that this opportunity and my role within the development of the east midlands continues to be a wonderful and fulfilling experience.”
What do you like so far about the organisation?
“CFT is one of the oldest children’s charities in the UK and their non for profit ethos remains true to my professional values and ethics. I have had the pleasure of being part of the ‘difference’ for children and young people in care and being able to enjoy how the charity re-invest their money into the children and young people placed with our foster carers.
I enjoy working alongside the wider CFT staff members and continue to relish the experience of meeting new people and establishing new relationships. I remain openly enthused and passionate about the support we offer our carers, especially in the infancy of their career, but what I truly enjoy and the reason I remain in fostering is the joy of establishing secure, loving and nurturing homes for children and young people. It is a wonderful feeling watching children thrive after the traumas they have endured. I get a real sense of satisfaction from that.”
What surprised you in your first 30 days at work?
“As I have been working for The CFT for over eight years there are very little surprises to my current role. However, what has been of genuine surprise in the current pandemic, is how well all professionals and carers have adapted to more creative ways of working. In order to continue to be effective in our support, we have needed to adapt the ways in which we work. This has undeniably been a challenge, especially when establishing working relationships virtually with applicants in the infancy of their fostering journey.”
What area of the company would you like to learn more about?
“Finances and budgeting for a region is a very ‘real’ part of my new role and is undeniably a new challenge to me as a social worker.”
What skill do you think everyone should learn?
“I think it’s very important as a professional working alongside foster carers to support children who have been severely traumatised to be able to inherently have the ability to be empathic and nurture their emotional intelligence. There are an endless number of training courses that support both carers and professionals with the development of their practices and to encourage them to consider how to parent children therapeutically.
As a Social Worker, it is crucial that we remain attuned to our thinking and decision making by being continually reflective in our practices and I also believe above all, that professionals within the care sector have a responsibility and duty to learn to become an effective communicator, as ultimately it is our greatest tool and one that can make the biggest difference.”
What do you hope to achieve during your first year with the organisation?
“Next April will be my first official year within my current post as Principal Social Worker. By then I hope to have recruited a caseload of foster carers, established an office base and to be working on my registration as a Registered Manager.”
We would like to thank Heather for taking the time to speak to us and for her work so far with the organisation.
On behalf of all of The CFT, we would like to extend our warmest welcome and best wishes to Heather!