Tomorrow is World Social Work Day. As I am taking a break from updating the blog this week (apart from today!), I am writing my post for the day now.
I wanted to consider a few things in relation to the ‘celebratory day’ such as it is although celebration seems a bit raw in the face of the humanitarian disaster taking place in Japan. I don’t want for there to have to be these disasters to provide context. People do not need to suffer in order for me to learn. But my human reaction to those pictures is to look inside myself for ways that I can console my own thoughts. Part of human nature is to look for answers. We have enquiring minds. I am not religious although I toy with agnosticism. I thought the Independent’s piece was thoughtful though.
Back to World Social Work Day. I’m not doing anything special to ‘celebrate’ apart from going to work. Which I think, in this economic climate and amid the vagaries of chance and an angry earth, more to celebrate on this Monday morning than I might credit.
I am going to spend World Social Work Day not celebrating as such. I think for me, the day will be more about inward reflection and consideration of what it means to me to be a social worker. What the job has provided me with and the areas which I am still lacking in.
How can I learn to be better at my job? How do I reconcile the tough days when I arrive home exhausted with the good days when things fit together? How do we become more confident as a profession to the extent that we don’t need external bodies to ‘speak for us’ and we don’t rely on the morsels that the media throw at us but we can stand among ourselves and have enough confidence to be proud of being social workers without having to claim a need to be like doctors, or nurses, or occupational therapists or teachers.
I see an issue of a lack of professional self-confidence. We are, in the UK, generally, servants of the state and often despised. But we also buy into it and just as I would tell an adolescent that she needs to learn to love and respect herself before anyone else will – so I feel a need to tell our still, in some ways, adolescent profession, that we need to learn to love and respect ourselves – as social workers – before anyone else will.
Regardless of media interviews, regardless of social media campaigns. If we are not advising our children to become social workers, we should work on creating a profession that everyone, including our children, will strive to join.
This is no time to be bashful but before looking outwards for approval, we need to seek it internally – amongst ourselves.
So for those social workers, on World Social Work Day, it’s worth looking on what it is you want to achieve and how being a social worker will help you. And if it won’t, consider what needs to change in the profession for you – for us – to be able to realise our goals.
I love my job. I’m proud to be a social worker. I heartily recommend the profession and anything else I have done has not been as stimulating and challenging. I have found qualities that I never knew I had and have been able to develop them but now I see a flailing and unconfident profession.
Not helped in the UK by the bickering over the identity of social work by the professional organisation and the nascent College. My message to BASW would be to listen to your members rather than the Council and treat democracy seriously – while remembering you only represent 13,000 social workers – some of whom are not English (so wouldn’t be part of the College) and some of whom are members for the insurance benefits. You can’t take a unilateral decision and palm it off as ‘democracy’. My message to the SCIE ‘college’ would be to take listening seriously if you want to gain credibility.
As Social Workers we shrive for social justice and providing a voice for those without one. So a College for Social Work needs to consult and provide channels for the voices within the profession that don’t always shout the loudest.
Finally, I’d recommend this post by JaeRan Kim. Watch the videos. And reflect on why we do this and what we need to do to make our profession stronger. It isn’t about colleges and unions and professional organisations (although they all have a place) – it is about self-confidence, a strong moral and ethical compass and strong reflective practice.
Happy World Social Work – I’ll be back at the weekend!
NB Tomorrow, The Guardian Local Government Network are having a Q and A session between 12pm – 3pm about achieving a work/life balance in social care. Very topical for World Social Work Day!
- National Social Work Month (fightingmonsters.wordpress.com)