How I Got Here: Claire Scott, child exploitation caseworker

Claire Scott
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Claire Scott, child exploitation caseworker at Catch22, on the milestones in her career.

Claire Scott: “Throughout my various counselling roles I knew that I enjoyed working with young people the most”
Claire Scott: “Throughout my various counselling roles I knew that I enjoyed working with young people the most”

Joining up

When I was 16, I wanted to join the police but at five feet one inch tall I'm too short! So, I decided to join the army as the first female Royal Artillery gunner back in 1992.

As you would imagine, it taught me a lot; discipline and determination being the most obvious things. I realised I was stronger than I gave myself credit for and knew I could do anything if I put my mind to it.

I was in the army for 10 years, before deciding to leave. At that time it was very hard to get promoted as a woman; there just weren't any routes to progress.

I took a dramatic career change and went back to college to study beauty therapy. Once I'd got my qualification, I opened my own beauty salon and began building my own business.

Father's cancer diagnosis

It was while I was working as a beauty therapist that my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a huge shock for me and my family and like many people going through a similar situation, I found it therapeutic to talk to others. I realised that what I enjoyed most about my job as a beauty therapist was when people started to open up to me with their problems; we'd talk them through and both feel better for it.

I quickly realised that I wanted to make a career out of this. I went back to university and did a counselling degree. Three years later, I left as a qualified person-centered counsellor.

I did a lot of volunteer counselling in schools before securing a job with the alcohol and drugs service and after that a sexual health service.

Recognising wider contexts

As a counsellor, I quickly realised that although I was providing support to many individuals and helping them to get their lives back on track, very often their wider family weren't getting any support despite being hugely affected. My clients would finish a session with me and return to a toxic environment that unravelled much of our good work.

I worked with one young man who had a partner and a young baby. He was struggling with cocaine addiction. I asked management if I could work with the partner as well to give her some support. They agreed, despite this not being common practice. After six months of working with him, he stopped the cocaine use. Thinking beyond the individual is something I continue to do in my current role.

Positive impact

Throughout my various counselling roles I knew that I enjoyed working with young people the most. I joined Catch22 in 2017, working with families whose children were on child-in-need plans; essentially a social worker without the title. I now work with young victims of criminal exploitation and county lines.

One client that sticks in my mind was a 16-year-old boy; a victim of county lines and who had been moved away from his home city due to witness protection. He was traumatised, had no friends, no place to live and suffered with severe anxiety. I worked with him for over 12 months – on his mental health, helping him to apply for jobs and to find accommodation. Three years later, he's working, has a place to live and a good group of friends. He occasionally messages me to let me know how he's doing – and I genuinely feel like a proud mum.


  1. Keep positive moments in your head. In a role like this, you can sometimes feel deflated. But when you get that success story – when a young person does something positive – it makes it all worthwhile.

  2. Learn from people you're working with. I have a great group of colleagues who inspire and motivate me. Many find themselves in desperate situations, but their resilience is incredible.

  3. Be determined. Stick to what you believe in. I've taken risks – including starting my own business and to study. Everything I learned was valuable and transferrable and led me to where I am today.

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