Having been in management now for a little over two years, I wanted to say to my fellow Social Workers that I have not abandoned the front line. I still feel the pangs of the difficulties of day to day work. I know how difficult it is to truly want to help and be challenged at every end. But hang in there because the work you’re doing is crucial. I applaud your courage and bravery, coming in every day to deadlines and case notes and management targets and verbal abuse from clients, having other professionals undermine the work you do and being given more work on top of that. YOU are my heroes.
There is such a broad discrepancy between what we can do legally and what other professionals and even clients, sometimes, would like us to do. There is such a feeling of being depressed when working with professionals who are more inclined to expect you to do everything than to be a contributory party. But you are the heroes. Social Workers are out there every day working with clients who don’t want us there but we know we need to be there. We need to be there for the clients who don’t yet have a voice. We need to be there for those whose voices are being drowned out by all the white noise of life. We need to be there for those who have had their voices taken from them. I am passionate about Social Work. I have never wanted to do anything other than Social Work and as Social Worker who has been in the business of Social Work for 10+ years, who has not succumb to cynicism or complacency, I applaud all your efforts. I am grateful for the work you do for the most vulnerable of us out there.
When others seek to put you down or undermine the work that you do remember why you are there. You are there to speak for those who for whatever reason are not being heard. When you’re inundated by paperwork (well electronic paperwork) and bureaucracy remember why you’re doing it. As a professional you have a responsibility to the organization which employs you, however the paperwork you do is to document the work you have undertaken with the family so that should you not be around anyone can pick up on the work you do and be able to help that family. So although the bureaucracy is dictated by the organization, it serves to help you evidence your professionalism, your work and all the pertinent information needed for anyone to be able to go through and help a family in your absence.
It’s hard to keep up with it all, all of the time, so, my fellow Social Workers, learn to be advocates for yourselves. Don’t be afraid to tell management that you need some protected time to be able to get caught up. Don’t be afraid to take holidays, you are entitled. The work you do is emotionally draining. You are taking on the problems of others and trying to come up with solutions. Don’t be afraid to respectfully challenge superiors when you have evidence of why you are making the decisions on your cases. You are the experts on your cases. Don’t be afraid to tell people your limitations and guide them in the direction of those that can help them. You can’t know everything there is to know about everything. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground when you are being challenged by other professionals. You know what you are tasked to do and no one has the right to pressure you into things that are beyond you.
If no one else says it to you I am proud of you. I am proud that you have decided to embark upon one of the most difficult professions. I am proud that you continue despite of the negative stereotypes that cloud the profession. You are not the local baby snatcher. You are the Social Worker who wants to make sure every child has their basic needs met and are able to live and develop in an environment that allows them to thrive.
I applaud your efforts. I applaud your commitment. I applaud your dedication. I applaud you skills. I applaud your knowledge. I applaud your bravery. I applaud your work.
I ask only one thing, as a colleague. No matter what organization you work for, no matter how many places you work for, please remember those who you work with. I know the work can be burdensome and tedious and repetitive and time consuming, but please remember that everything you do is to improve the life chances and circumstances of vulnerable children and adults.
And for all that you do – THANK YOU! DANKE! GRACIAS! MERCI!