A few weeks ago, we reported on the case of Julie Dugdale, a local authority social worker who committed suicide after a restructure caused her caseload to increase. Here, a friend and colleague, who wishes to remain anonymous, pays tribute to Julie (pictured below with her husband, Garry).
Julie spent her adult life from the age of 18 working in services with people, initially working in a long stay residential hospital for people with learning difficulties and latterly working as a transition co-ordinator. She completed a four-year part time degree course while employed and managed to juggle her family life and academia with seemingly boundless enthusiasm.
Julie explored with gusto the ethics and values of social work and how they fitted with her own value base, which was always person-centred. She enjoyed a great deal of work satisfaction and always credited the families she worked with for that. She had her own unique style and enjoyed analysing fundamental issues that affect social work and life. She made people believe she was honoured to work with them.
Sadly the standards she set herself were too high and it became too much. The last restructure saw many colleagues leave or become ill. Julie was required to apply for her own job, then the area she covered increased, as did her management responsibilities. Agile working (e.g. flexible hours and hotdesking), the loss of traditional teams and badly performing technology all added to the pressure, which sadly became too much.
The hundreds of people who attended her funeral paid tribute to how much she was respected and valued as a friend, as well as a colleague. Her lovely family have the skills she taught them to help them cope with her loss, but there will always be a very glamorous Julie-shaped hole in the world and social work has lost a very experienced, motivated and caring social worker.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 909090