Chief Social Worker Sean Holland called on social workers to showcase the innovative work taking place in the field in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on World Social Work Day, Sean Holland recognised the work undertaken by Northern Ireland’s 6305 social workers and said there is much innovative co-production work taking place across social work and social care here. He also urged social workers to become activists for their profession.
Mr Holland said: “Social workers work with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society, promoting their rights, challenging inequalities and improving the quality of their lives. The purpose of social work is to improve and safeguard the social wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
“While we celebrate the profession today, we must also recognise the challenges of social work and the need to support social workers in the work they do. It’s often not easy for social workers to have the time to build up relationships when they are faced with very high demand. They also work in very challenging environments and in situations which can be high risk.”
A recent report by BASW NI highlighted that close to nine out of every ten (86%) social workers surveyed in NI have experienced intimidation, three quarters have received threats and half have been subjected to physical violence. Another recent research report, “Voices of Social Workers during the Troubles” highlighted the courage and commitment of social workers as they put their own safety on the line to protect people at risk of abuse and neglect.
Launching a new digital home for the Northern Ireland social work and social care community to share, celebrate and promote local good practice and to find out about what is happening locally in other parts of our social work and social care eco system, Mr Holland said: “The Northern Ireland social work and social care web page on the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) will be a great resource for social workers.
“None of us in social work or social care have all the answers, but we all have something to shout about, and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who use our services by sharing and promoting good practice. We all have an opportunity to play an active part in celebrating our profession on world social work day.
“As a social work community we are stronger, better informed and better equipped to help and support others when we learn from each other and from service users about what we do well. So it’s really important that each us are activists for social work and social care services and there is no better place to start than by getting involved and contributing to the Northern Ireland social work and social care web page on SCIE.
Mr Holland said: “World Social Work Day may not mean very much to a lot of people. If you have never had a social worker, or maybe don’t know any social workers you may not have a clear idea what they do. Every day social workers in NI help people, they help people take control of their lives , escape from abuse and exploitation and achieve their potential.
“It can be challenging work but it can also be amazing work. So today to all the social workers out there, whether they are working with older people, people with disabilities, vulnerable children, people with mental health difficulties, I just want to say on behalf of myself and everyone else who may or not fully understand what you do. Thank you to all the social workers who show great courage and commitment every day in the job they do.
The theme of this year’s World Social Work Day is promoting the importance of human relationships.
Notes to editors:
- For more information on the new web page go to https://www.scie.org.uk The local NI page for social workers can be found at https://www.scie.org.uk/northern-ireland
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- Mental Health and Learning Disability Inpatients 2018-19 21 August 2019
- NI Health and Social Care Workforce Census - March 2019 20 August 2019
- Publication of “Patient Education / Self Management Programmes for People with Long Term Conditions 2018/19” 14 August 2019
- Home Care Experience Survey 2018 08 August 2019