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Interview with Rafik Iddin: Insights from a Seasoned Social Worker

An image of Rafik Iddin with the headline "Insights from a seasoned social worker"

Rafik Iddin is an Independent Safeguarding and Social Work Consultant who leads independent reviews, serious case reviews, and domestic homicide reviews.

Previously he chaired the Olive Branch Independent Foster Panel and also provides regular safeguarding training to the Olive Branch Team.

We spoke to Rafik to find out more about his role, his experience, and his words of advice for anyone interested in foster care and social care.

Olive Branch: Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with us, Rafik. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and what you do?

Rafik Iddin: Absolutely. I'm a qualified social worker with a background in working with children and families for the past 35 years. I began my career in residential work with young people in 1989.

Over the years, I’ve held various roles, including field social worker, child protection conference chair, team manager, service manager, and eventually deputy director of Children's Services for a couple of local authorities.

Since 2012, I’ve been working independently, focusing on serious case reviews, domestic homicide reviews, service reviews, and leadership development. I also help agencies collaborate better, as safeguarding is a multi-agency effort.

Additionally, I chaired the Olive Branch Independent Fostering Panel for two years, which was one of the most enjoyable parts of my work.

"It’s incredibly rewarding to see the impact people make on their own lives, knowing you’ve had a small part in facilitating that change."

Olive Branch: What does a typical day look like for you?

Rafik Iddin: No two days are the same! My days are often filled with meetings with various senior leaders. For instance, today I’m meeting with statutory partners in Liverpool regarding a child safeguarding review.

This involves discussing key lines of inquiry, terms of reference, and identifying areas for learning. I also spend a lot of time writing reports and convening practice learning events where practitioners and managers discuss cases to identify gaps and possibilities for improvement.

A review typically lasts between six months to a year due to the extensive work involved.

Olive Branch: It sounds like a very demanding job. How do you keep up with the changes in rules and regulations?

Rafik Iddin: That’s a great question. Interestingly, many of the core issues in safeguarding have remained the same over the past 50 years. Key concerns include poor communication, lack of professional curiosity, and not listening to children.

While regulations and procedures may change, these fundamental issues persist.

Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on the basics—listening to children, good interagency communication, and professional tenacity.

Olive Branch: What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Rafik Iddin: For me, social work is about creating the conditions for change to take place. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the impact people make on their own lives, knowing you’ve had a small part in facilitating that change.

It’s also gratifying to see improvements in practice and learning being implemented within organisations.

Olive Branch: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in social work or foster care?

Rafik Iddin: My advice would be to reflect on what’s drawing you into the work and what you hope to achieve. It’s important to understand your fundamental values and priorities. Read about social work and foster care, talk to professionals and carers, and understand the challenges and rewards of the roles.

For foster care, it's crucial to consider why you want to spend time with young people and to research the responsibilities and expectations involved.

Olive Branch: How do you switch off from work, and what do you do in your spare time?

Rafik Iddin: Switching off can be challenging, but time management is key. I allocate specific blocks of time to work and ensure I take breaks to do things unrelated to work. I enjoy cycling, going to the gym, and playing music—I’m a guitarist and have been involved in music since my teens. I also love walking in nature, which is very therapeutic and helps me reset.

Olive Branch: Thank you for sharing your insights, Rafik. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

For more information about foster care in the North West you can contact the Olive Branch team here or telephone 01706 558910.