There is a narrative amongst some who operate within Social Work that our work should be hidden, our interventions gone about quietly and that it is wrong to herald ourselves for what we do.
Those who cling to this narrative feel that speaking up about our efforts is bragging and doing so can be seen as insensitive to those we are here to help. Instead we are asked to keep our heads down, go quietly about our business and not cause too much of a fuss in the process.
Whilst I of course understand the necessity in not sharing specific case details, disclosing confidential information or venting complaints in public, I simply can’t accept the current status quo that sees the public dialogue dictated by those with a grievance, a political agenda or a status of power. This current situation sees our media stories driven by politicians, policy makers, those who have suffered as a result of failures and people removed from the frontline of practice.
Although there is clearly room for these voices, many of whom are experienced and well-meaning, I have worried for years about the lack of representation from those of us who are actually doing the job and, most importantly, those who we have helped. A public image of social work dominated by Government employees, politicians and powerful figures risks marginalising the people we support and those of us who do the direct work to make the world a better place.
When was the last time you saw a Social Worker on the television?
How many stories have you read in the newspaper about someone who was grateful for Social Work support?
Can you recall hearing a Social Worker speak in the national media about the work they do?
I’m not going to ask you to dwell on those questions for too long because it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever come across a positive news story or heard the voices of those we support in the mainstream media. Instead you’ll have read a succession of doom-mongering tales about failures and heard a number of powerful figures tell you what we need to do to be better at saving lives.
No matter what country you’re from, this tale is the same and I believe this lack of positivity is contributing to a malaise in our profession all across the globe.
How can we be positive about the work we do when we are constantly presented with a narrative that we are failing, we need to be lectured to and the true story of our good work is not worthy of public recognition?
But there is an alternative and there are many of us who are keen to stand up for Social Work and tell the world what we achieve, the people we help and the good that we bring about. Thanks to organisations like Social Justice Solutions, we are capable of using the freedom of the internet to share stories that don’t make it into the mainstream media and show the world what it truly means to be a Social Worker in the modern age.
Social media has allowed Social Workers from all corners of the world to come together, stand as one and share their stories of practice. It allows for dialogue between professionals, students and clients, who are all united around the same goal of wanting to make the world and fairer and more equal place for all.
During these uniting conversations one theme crops up time and time again.
Social Work is needed.
In all its forms, in all its disciplines and in all its many guises, Social Work helps the make the world a better place for millions upon millions of people every day.
For me, that deserves recognition and that deserves praise.
So it’s time to stand together and unite in telling the story of what modern Social Work is and reclaim the narrative for those of us who actually do this job and those of us who actually use services.
In doing so, I am grateful for the support of Social Justice Solutions in undertaking the first step of my campaign to promote the good of Social Work: my coming book ‘Stand up for Social Work’.
If you’d like to help our by pre-ordering, you can do so here:
But If you’re not able to help in that way then try to think about what difference you can make in other ways. Can you set up a positive feedback group at work? Can you join your local union or professional association? Can you set up a support group? Can you write to your local paper the next time they run a negative story and put them right?
We all know that Social Work is more than just a job, it’s a way of life and it’s a passion. It’s time for us all to use our passion in a positive way by reclaiming our profession and being proud of all we do.
It’s time to stand up for Social Work.
Written by Social Work Tutor
Our authors want to hear from you! Click to leave a comment