I’ve followed Community Care’s Stand up for Social Work campaign closely and, watching people proactively engage with it through such challenging times, I’ve been completely inspired. So much changes on a daily basis in this profession that it can be hard to stay on top of it, let alone remain motivated. It’s frustrating, but that is the reality of social work in this climate and why we as practitioners have to learn the quality of resilience early on in our careers.
I have been Standing up for Social Work in my own way for just over four years now. First and foremost I am a social worker working with adults full time. But in my spare time I run not-for-profit organisation iamsocialwork.
Opportunities to network
Through iamsocialwork I create opportunities for us to all get together, nationwide and virtually, to network, share information and learn from more experienced practitioners. I believe when we make links with people beyond those we immediately work with, we increase our opportunities to learn. For some people, learning in a different style or context to their everyday work can help them build their knowledge base and feel more assertive. Better knowledge brings increased confidence, which can ultimately enhance our practice.
The benefits of sharing experiences and building support links are endless. My own learning as a social worker has been supported by the relationships I’ve nurtured and knowledge I’ve drawn from others. This is why I continue to run events where the focus is exactly that.
Struggling social workers
I’m often asked why I continue to operate not-for-profit, but financial gain is not my main motivation. I’m motivated by helping social workers struggling with things I’ve struggled with myself. I get so many emails from people having a hard time in their day jobs and I’ve been there. I nearly walked out after six months because I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel but four years on it’s a different story.
I want to show others struggling or thinking of quitting that the support is there. There are so many brilliant people doing great things to stand up for social work. I have been able to introduce new social workers to people I feel can support them, offer them advice or just give them opportunities to talk things through. My main aim is to expand and reach more people so I can strengthen the iamsocialwork community nationally.
I want to build confidence in those entering the profession, in order to retain a strong, confident and able workforce. I’m more than aware I won’t achieve that alone, which is why at the events themselves, this is left to the professionals.
So far I’ve been fortunate to have had some of the most inspiring people come along to meet students and qualified social workers, including chief social worker Lyn Romeo, academics Harry Ferguson and Ray Jones as well as organisations like the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). Most importantly, I’ve had currently practicing social workers come to events to share their first hand experiences directly.
iam.academia is an event being held over two evenings in London in February. I’m proud to say the line-up is stellar, including Dr. Sharon Shoesmith, Professor David Shemmings, Dr. Ruth Allen, Jo Moriarty, Professor Jill Manthorpe, Dr Julia Warrener, Dr. Shibley Rahman and Richard Pantlin. Oh, and because we like doing nice things for other people, there will be a raffle for Anthony Nolan too.
Zoë runs iamsocialwork. The London events on Feb 3 and Feb 10 are open to qualified social workers and student social workers and count towards CPD with certificates provided. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her @iamsocialwork
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