World Social Work Day is celebrated annually on the third Tuesday of March – this year it will be on 17 March. On this day we celebrate and recognise social workers as champions for social justice, self-determination and human rights!
Social workers worldwide stand together in March to advance a common message – for 2020 the spotlight is on “Promoting the importance of human relationships”. This theme was established to build international focus on the interdependence of people and the need for change in policies and social service delivery.
Worldwide millions of people are experiencing overwhelming challenges such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, physical and mental illness, trauma, addiction, abuse, neglect and more.
Luckily, there are highly trained, caring professionals ready and willing to help these people overcome difficult obstacles and live a healthy, successful life. Social workers provide crucial support to children, adults, and families in need.
The challenges of every day mean that social work is not an easy field to work in, nor is it something anyone can do. It takes a special kind of person to become a social worker - although the job is extremely rewarding and full of meaning, it also takes its toll on people emotionally.
We came across some interesting facts about social workers on the KVC Health Systems Blog. We have added a local flavour!
1. Social workers do more than just help people
Having a passion for helping others is important, but being a social worker requires so much more. People who are experiencing the most vulnerable time in their lives rely on social workers to help connect them with resources and find solutions to complex problems. Social workers use their skills and expertise to promote good mental health, strengthen relationships, and end generational cycles of trauma and substance use, ultimately creating healthier families and communities.
2. Social workers are in it for the outcome, not the income
Being a social worker is not going to make you financially rich, which is why many professionals are drawn to the field because they are passionate about helping others and doing meaningful work. That said, social workers deserve competitive compensation packages for the valuable contributions they make.
3. Social workers do NOT remove children from their homes
In South Africa, child welfare services are provided or managed by various child protection organisations. These organisations investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, and they work closely with the court system to decide whether to remove a child from his or her home. While social workers do provide their professional perspective on whether a child is safe in his or her home, ultimately a magistrate decides whether the child needs out-of-home care. Social workers then provide services to the family in order to resolve conflicts or disruptions and teach healthy skills so that children can safely return home.
4. Social workers contribute at all levels of society
Social work is a broad, diverse field where the work extends across many settings. Social workers work with individuals, families, schools, universities, non profit agencies, corporations, hospitals, and governmental agencies. They are also active in national, provincial and local politics advocating for legislation and policies that improve the quality of life for vulnerable children and adults.
5. The job is not a typical 8-hour workday
There is no typical day for a social worker and most of their time is spent out in the community rather than in an office. Their schedule often consists of attending court hearings, meeting with clients in their homes, supervising visits, completing training or advocating for their clients’ needs.
6. Social workers must make hard decisions
Making decisions that impact peoples’ lives is a huge responsibility for social workers. Above all, safety is the number one driver of those decisions. Luckily, most social workers collaborate with families, fellow staff members, and other stakeholders to explore all possibilities and make well-informed decisions.
7. Self-care is an important part of the job
Maintaining physical, mental and emotional health is vital for everyone, but self-care is an essential practice for social workers. The likelihood of job fatigue is very high in this field, so many organisations require social workers to schedule self-care activities that reduce stress and mitigate burnout.