Ulrike Freiherr van Beek

Social pedagogical family assistant at the SOS Children’s Village Sauerland in Germany
photo: © 2018 Stefan Lechner Photography

Ulrike has been working for SOS since 1994. Since 2014, after finishing her part time studies, she has been working in a new workplace within the facility. Here she can not only use her experiences working closely with children but also collect new experiences working with entire families, a job that is both challenging and exciting. She finds it important to be authentic in her job, and is still learning a lot from her team and the families she works with.

To Ulrike, family has always been important. It means to share a lot of things like emotions and knowledge, to show limits and let go, to learn from one another, to live traditions and be open to new things and to pass on these values like honesty, enjoying life and humour.

In her free time, Ulrike likes to go cycling, take photos and listen to music, and she sings in a choir. She grew up in Germany and now lives in Dortmund, although she likes to return to Uckermark where she grew up. She likes the people in Dortmund, their honesty and straightforwardness, and how the area grew from grey andindustrial to a big, green place!

The report. A piece of good teamwork


Actually writing a report is not the hardest thing for me. But it is not easy under time pressure! And we were under time pressure, my colleague Frank and myself, and we still did it! We wrote our report for the child welfare department (cwd) and for the parents we’ve been working with as well. We made it right on time! And it wasn’t just on time – it was a good report too! We were satisfied and our boss was too!

In the beginning

About every six months we have to write a report about our work in/with the families – for the family and for the cwd. So my colleague Frank and I wrote a report about a family we’ve been working with as a tandem team for about half a year. Since I wanted to take part in an international workshop, we had to have our report finished earlier than originally planned. At the same time it could not be done too early because it needed to be up-to-date. So we faced the challenges first of finding a timeslot without any other work obligations on our side, and second of completing the report in the minimum time but nevertheless of producing a good result – a decent report. We agreed on two dates to write the report together. I was almost sure that it would not be enough time because of all the other work to be done before the workshop which left no other available time.
Our reports are mostly oriented to the aims the cwd formulated along with the family we work with. In this case six (!) main aims had been defined. When we met for the first time, we went through these aims and started writing what was easy to describe.

Effectively working together

What helped was that we quickly agreed upon who would do the writing part on the pc – it was me. It also helped (me) that Frank stayed calm and focused without getting nervous about the lack of time. When we noticed that we were running out of time we just put down some keywords of what we found most important and which must not be forgotten. This meant we would get a good start the next time we met to finish the report.
At this point I still thought we wouldn’t make it on time. A few days later Frank and I met again. This time it didn’t take very long to be “into” the report again. We just “passed the ball to each other”, meaning that one sentence followed the next. Frank had the idea of putting some of the six aims together because they appeared similar to us. Another idea was just to describe all the different topics we were talking about and things we had done in and with the family. Enumerating and describing these steps and activities and putting them into the right words worked perfectly between the two of us. And of course the keywords we had written down in the first place helped us a lot.

When you feel the “flow”

We were “in a flow” and time seemed to fly. And so what I wasn’t expecting happened – the report was done on time! We were happy and satisfied with our work.

And we realised that we had actually done much more than just producing a good report in time. In the end we noticed that we had done a good job in this family. It was quite a challenging process and developed in a different direction than what the family had hoped for.

A few days later, our team had a supervision session. When we were asked what had gone well over the last few days, what we have done well, I told them about writing our report. My colleague Frank smiled and said: “That is exactly what I wanted to talk about!”


Video Harvesting Workshop 2018