Social work diary: Her team were too busy to discuss the closure of the college

A social work academic reflects on the week she heard the news the College of Social Work was closing

Photo: ImageBroker/Rex Shutterstock

Monday

It’s coming towards the end of term for our students. Today we were doing some evaluations of our students’ experience on their course.

There were many positive comments and lots to learn from their evaluation, but also some quite negative and personalised feedback. I guess people have a right to say what they feel but it did make me think that sometimes there is not a lot of kindness in how we treat each other as professionals.

Kindness feels a rather unprofessional word, but I can’t think of another way to describe what I mean. It’s different to empathy. I suppose it is closer to the social work value of ‘Respect for Person’, but there is also something in the word kindness that suggests we don’t just respect each other, we treat each other gently, considerately.

One of my colleagues suggested that feedback is different for the internet generation. People are used to saying what they like, usually without having to speak directly to the person involved and see the effect of their words.

This may well be true but perhaps we should be doing better in the field of social work where we deal with the human condition, and hopefully have learnt to be aware of our own vulnerability too.

When talking about compassion, Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön says: “Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

Perhaps I should suggest ‘knowing our darkness’ as a new domain for the Professional Capability Framework review!

Wednesday

It’s the last day for our third year students. It’s really moving to hear about the journey people have been on during their social work training.

Significant personal obstacles have been overcome. Huge amounts of work have been completed and it’s really encouraging to see a new generation of students keen to go out and make a difference to service users and the profession.

I meet a student who has been on placement in my previous agency and it’s great to catch up on some news about my old colleagues.

‘They’ve just been restructured,’ she tells me, ’it’s been really stressful’.

In the years prior to me leaving there were four restructures in five years. I can’t believe my colleagues have had to go through it again.

I know how disrupted I felt by such constant change. The uncertainty of not knowing what was happening, then having to change teams and locations really impacted on morale as well as relationships with service users.

I talk to students about resilience and ways to stay positive in the current climate. I hope we’ve prepared them well.

Thursday

After the energy boost of being with our final year students yesterday, tonight I find out on Twitter that T

the College of Social Work is to close.

This is sad for so many reasons, but I can’t help but think of our third year students hearing this news in the week they should be celebrating their hard work and feeling confident and enthusiastic about the profession they are about to enter.

Friday

I spend the day thinking a lot about the closure of the College. I follow the reaction on Twitter and start to consider what implications it might have for the profession and academia.

In the evening I meet a friend for a drink. She’s a social worker in a children and families team.

‘How did your team react to the news?’ I ask, eager to know the response of social workers to the situation.

‘To be honest we were so busy today we didn’t get the chance to discuss it’, she responded.  It’s humbling to be reminded of just how busy frontline practitioners are.  Her insight says a lot.

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