Working on the Front Line

Work on the front line can mean a number of things, but today we’re talking about the UK welfare state – a catch-all term for a number of different closely related services including social work, the NHS and the criminal justice system. All of these different services have a broad spread of different workers behind the doctors, social workers, and barristers to help keep the wheels turning, from administrators to procurement officers but today we’re looking at those on the front line, outside offices dealing with people every day.

Criminal Justice

You would expect the justice system to be overwhelming comprised of solicitors and prison warders, but in truth one of the main focusses of the sector is ensuring people don’t go back to prison! Reform, support ad rehabilitation are all vital roles, and that’s why you have a lot of people working in substance misuse jobs, as probation officers or other rehabilitation staff that work to help criminals deal with the addictions, mental health issues or other issues that have contributed to their fall into crime, and start to build the structures that can support them and ensure a successful return to society.

Working on the front line hear requires patience, compassion and practicality, as you find the right way to communicate with a diverse group of people who may well not be initially as interested in working with you. That said, when you are bale to find the right approach to get them to engage and make that breakthrough, it’s a reward like no other!


The doctors and nurses of the NHS deal with a collective 1 million patients every 36 hours – that’s a big front line. 

The majority of those will be pre-booked appointments, whether that’s at a GP as the first step in a diagnostic process, ongoing treatment or tests at a hospital or specialist unit. This is the everyday churn of the NHS, with patients coming in for tests, returning for appointments at which the results are interpreted and explained and moving into programmes of treatment or, depending on the findings, staying on wards to ensure they can receive round the clock care and monitoring.

There’s also a significant minority of patients attending accident and emergency units or walk in centres with urgent needs. Those that can be are resolved there and then – sprains and cuts, while dramatic and upsetting can often be solved with a competent dressing and advice to aid in swift recovery. Others are folded into the system so the correct treatment can be determined and applied.

Social Care

Social Workers and carers work with a lot of different people: some specialise in care for the elderly, others children in risky environments, and still others work with people suffering from addiction and in recovery. Their work is similar to the justice system workers we looked at earlier: building systems of habit and support to ensure people can enter and participate in society, and avoid problems that could blossom as time goes on.