Recently I’ve seen a fair amount of comments disheartened with social work/social workers. I know that these comments often based on horrible experiences from exhausted, hurting people and I’m not excusing poor practice. However, I think we sometimes have to remember that social workers are people too, and it’s not always solely their fault.
I’d like to think I have a fairly good grasp of what social workers do, but as with any profession, unless you do it, you don’t know. So I won’t pretend I really know what they have to do. I have worked with several social workers, both personally in our own adoption process and professionally in my own work. My parents were also both social workers, but have since moved onto other areas of work, they still use their social work skills daily.
I have to say, I massively admire what social workers do, they have a job that nearly everyone likes to have their say about, but yet still get on with it day in, day out. I don’t really know of any other profession that has to deal with so much pain. They see people at some of the most painful and stressful times of their lives, and from professional experience, this is not just in the child protection speciality. I can imagine they are frequently verbally and probably physically abused, for trying to do their job. They constantly pressured by budgets and ‘the system’ to get the job done with less time, people and money. They are often seen as the bad guys in ‘them & us’ situations. they are constantly chasing their tails as they race to complete the paper work to go with the practical job. I’m sure they frequently take their work home and struggle to switch off. Their families I’m sure suffer too, when I was younger and my parents were social workers I knew they were stressed, I saw them struggle.
We’ve been lucky to have some really good, supportive social workers during the adoption process from approval assessment to post placement support. I think the benefit of going with a voluntary agency is that they seem to have more time to really take the time and effort to get to know us and what we need. Their social workers have always been very approachable and responsive. We swapped social workers at matching, and she has been amazing, possibly one of the highlights of the process. It’s so vital to feel cared about, and to be encouraged that we’re doing a good job, even if we don’t feel like we are. The Local Authority social workers appear more pressured, but we have found them to all be very caring. They only want what is best for the child, and it’s lovely to share their joy when they see how well our daughter is doing. I bet these ‘success stories’ make their job worthwhile, I know they do in mine. I do think they are truly trying to do their best with what they have.
I know that we’ll have contact with social workers in the future, who knows what our needs will be. We’ll most likely come across barriers, and may have battles with social services, but I’ll try to remember that at the end of the phone, or behind the email address is a person. I’ll try to believe that they themselves want a good outcome, and they’re only human themselves.
So, I wanted to say a big huge Thank-You to social workers, to all social workers. I want to encourage them that they do do an amazing job, and that their hard work has changed many people’s lives for the better. I want to remind them that people do appreciate them, and wouldn’t be the people they are today without them. Yes, they don’t always get it right, but neither do we. Together we can work together to help those people who most need it,