SCIE opinion – 14 March 2014

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Photograph of Tony Hunter

World Social Work Day

By SCIE’s Tony Hunter

It’s 1980. I’m working with a mother of six small children. She’s the victim of domestic violence, the kids are increasingly neglected, dad’s just left, so things are falling apart. The easiest thing would be to take the kids into care. Instead, with help from our home care service we organised a package of care and support with carers going in in the morning, helping with the children, getting them fed and off to playgroup and school, and mum also has counselling, regaining confidence and control. The family stays together.

Social care, with social work playing an important part, has always been my first love. I spent 30 years in the social work field and so World Social Work Day 2014 is especially important to me.

I find myself talking to people who aren’t in the sector, and telling them that social work isn’t just about child protection, vitally important though that is. It just seems to be the thing that generates headlines, with high-profile tragedies making the news of late. Yet adult social work is an important area; the public understandably has very real anxieties around funding. Social work for adults can make a big difference. For both areas of social work, it’s important to improve people’s lives with quality social work.

One of the exciting things that’s happening in social care more generally at the moment, is the inclusion of user and carers in decisions on how to organise their care and support. One great example comes in social work; we have a number of films on our Social Care TV website about how users and carers are involved with university courses for social workers. This way, students are learning from their lecturers and their tutors, but they’ve also got access to ‘experts by experience’, to guide them through their courses. This gives them a great chance to understand what we call ‘co-production’ from the start of their careers.

As a busy social worker, or a student, or a manager, or as someone considering social work as a career, your work will present you with conflicting demands on your precious time. We offer an array of resources to help you practice with confidence. Please see the links below for more information.

My passion for social work is still there, 34 years after helping that family. I often think about them, and about many others I’ve helped and I’m proud of the thought that I’ve supported people by something outside the box. Please download a poster and put it up for World Social Work Day. But also, keep the passion up for a profession that makes a difference.


All of SCIE’s social work resources

Social work student resources