‘I am so proud to be a social worker’
By Emma Govan, learning disabilities social worker
I left school with one O level. Soon I also had family commitments. Raising a child with autism took me into a world where my family needed professional support.
Social workers entered my family’s life and I knew then that I wanted to help other families in a similar way. My first Open University course was in 2006. I worked through the modules with a drive and determination to qualify as a social worker. I faced many challenges along the way, balancing the complexity of family, work and study, but never lost focus.
When the local authority withdrew sponsorship for social work students, I had two placements still to go. I continued studying on the non-sponsored route, and took sabbatical leave to do the two placements.
My placements were fantastic learning opportunities. I cannot underestimate the knowledge I gained from my practice teachers and module tutors who nurtured me, and helped me view multiple perspectives. The support they offered came from their own knowledge of social work and beyond. I thank them all – they know who they are – for developing me, not only professionally, but as a person.
I graduated in 2014 and am so proud to be a social worker. I’ve just completed my post registration and learning for my first year qualified. I am currently practising within the Scottish Borders Learning Disability Team. I’ve also set up an equine therapy company, combining my passion for horses with my profession.
I’m passionate about my career and my learning journey. Relationships are at the core of what I do. With so many changes within social work happening, I will continue to strive to promote equality and social justice. ‘Never Give Up’ is my mantra!
Emma has been shortlisted for the Social Worker of the Year Award in the Scottish Association of Social Workers Awards 2016.
‘My caring team inspired me’
I left school at 16. I’d never considered social work as a career option. Yet after 18 years in a totally different job I suddenly found myself facing redundancy and on the job market.
I saw a part-time job in an adoption agency and decided to apply. I became the only non-social worker on the team. My role was to promote adoption and recruit more adopters. I landed on my feet by finding myself with the most welcoming, caring and diligent colleagues. They showed such care and ownership for the children and families they worked with and advocated for them so strongly. The more I listened, the more I wanted to become a social worker.
So now, alongside my day job, I’m studying social work at The Open University (you can see what the OU courses are like here). I’ve found it really interesting. Don’t get me wrong, it can sometimes be hard to motivate myself to sit down at a computer again after a full day’s work. But being able to interact with students through Facebook and our tutor group forum keeps me going when I need the extra push.
I’m now in the second year of my course. My team at work continues to support me and encourage my learning. I wouldn’t be where I am without their backing. I owe them a lot and hope one day I can be as good a social worker as they all are.