A time to celebrate our social workers
World Social Work Day takes place on 21 March, which is a great opportunity to celebrate this valuable profession and the special people who work within it.
But, we don’t think a day is enough to raise awareness and understanding of social work, so we’ve decided to devote the whole week to raise the profile of the profession. So this week is Social Work Week.
Social Work Week videos
To help us celebrate, we’re sharing videos from frontline social workers, leaders, social work students, people receiving care and support, and politicians, all giving their perspective on social work. These will be shared throughout the week on social media and they’re also available on our website.
The importance of social workers
Even though most people have probably heard the terms, social work and social workers, it’s likely they’d struggle to describe exactly what social workers are there to do.
Disappointingly, the only time we tend to see anything about social workers in the general media is in the minority of cases when something has gone wrong.
And yet social workers play a crucial role in safeguarding and empowering those who may be vulnerable and they regularly contribute to helping turn people’s lives around.
That’s because they’re there to support people at difficult times in their lives. They work with other professionals to make sure children and adults are kept safe from neglect or harm.
This means they often support people in their relationships with their families, groups or wider communities.
Sometimes it means helping people recognise their own strengths and develop their skills so they’re better able to tackle the problems they’re facing.
It can also mean carrying out risk assessments to understand what care and support people may need to remain independent.
This kind of work means social workers come into contact with a broad range of people, including children and families, people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities, those with a physical disability, young offenders, and people who may have problems with their mobility, sight or hearing.
For someone to work successfully with such a broad range of people with so many different aspirations and challenges they need a formal qualification, as well as specific personal qualities.
They need to be excellent at communicating and building trusting and respectful relationships, thinking creatively and supporting others to cope with sometimes very difficult situations.
On top of that, they need to be compassionate, empathetic, able to bounce back from setbacks and be non-judgemental. And all this while navigating safely through the legal system that underpins social work practice. That’s why I called our social workers special at the beginning of this article!
Social workers on our Register
In Wales today, we have 6,565 qualified social workers on our Register.
But this is less than the numbers we need to deliver the advice, care and support needed in an aging Wales, where pressures on family life, frailty and poor health create increased demands on our social workers.
That’s why we’re always trying to attract more people into this profession, which, although sometimes challenging, is a hugely rewarding career, as it provides a real opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
To be a social worker today, you need a recognised bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work.
Extra funding for students
And the prospect of studying to be a social worker has recently been made more appealing because the Welsh Government has allocated extra funding for students through our bursary scheme.
New undergraduate students who started their studies this academic year are receiving financial support of £11,250 (£3,750 a year for three years), while new postgraduate students are getting £25,430 (£12,715 for two years).
So next week, join me in giving thanks for the valuable work our social workers do every day in every community of Wales.
You may even wish to join their ranks to make a real difference.