International Case Study

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Case Study: Moving from New Zealand to London - a Social Worker's story

Rhonda Thom is an experienced social worker. Having qualified in New Zealand, she relocated to London with her husband and three children.

“The initial plan”, Rhonda says, “was to stay for two years. The reality has been different, with a number of roles with different employers, each offering greater experience and increased challenge”.

From the start, Rhonda enjoyed the common ground between New Zealand and the UK. A lot of her role as a social worker is similar, and the Children Act felt familiar. Nevertheless, a city like London throws up issues and situations that Rhonda just hadn’t come across before.

Rhonda remembers being taken aback by the cultural differences she experienced. “On the face of it, the move to the UK seemed straightforward – they speak the same language in New Zealand, after all!”. The reality was a bit different… perhaps because it’s a large and challenging working environment, Rhonda found that she was expected to ‘just get on and go with it’. She realised that her colleagues were under pressure, fulfilling a heavier case load than she had seen in New Zealand.

It didn’t take Rhonda long to get used to working alone – she could see that there just aren’t the resources to support peer-accompanied site visits. Instead, Rhonda quickly became adept at navigating the public transport system and housing estates in London. “It can be tricky”, she says, “to find a particular household among the 250 apartments in one of the big housing complexes”.

On a personal level, Rhonda needed to find school places for each of her three children. She had not anticipated that this would be anything other than straightforward. We’ve taken this on board, and now provide specific information and guidance for candidates who plan to relocate with their families.

Having settled in successfully (and already being here for longer than she had intended) what advice would Rhonda pass on to Kiwis who are thinking of making the move? “First of all: you can’t do enough research in advance. Information on accommodation costs, areas to live, commuting routes, etc. is all freely available online”.

Your consultant can also help with this and will be happy to provide any information you think you will need.

Rhonda says you should also be prepared to develop your resilience. “Life in London is fast-paced and people are busy. As a result, they may seem cold and unresponsive, but it is rarely personal, and perseverance will be rewarded with great professional experience, broader personal horizons and the opportunity to eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as often as you care to!”

If you are a social worker and fancy the opportunity to experience life in the UK for yourself, you can find more information about the roles and support we have to offer to international candidates.

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