‘As a former child in care, I know the difference social workers make to people’s lives’

ADCS vice president Andy Smith explains how his time in care inspired him to become a social worker, and how transformative the role can be, in the latest letter to future practitioners for our Choose Social Work campaign

'Make a difference' spelt out in blocks
Image: BillionPhotos.com/Adobe Stock

Dear Future Social Worker

You are reading this because you are thinking about training to become a social worker. Social work is a graduate profession so you might be considering an undergraduate form of study or retraining to become a social worker.

The great thing is there are now many different routes into social work that all take into account and value the range of experiences, including voluntary or paid work, that everyone brings into the profession.

Although I am now a director of children’s services in a local authority, I am a social worker, and proud of it.”

My own route into social work felt natural and intuitive. As a former child in care, I was lucky enough to be adopted by my foster carers just before my 11th birthday, so in many ways I always knew that I wanted to be a social worker from an early age.

The impact social workers have

I was fortunate in having the same social worker from around the age of seven to my adoption and this was a positive experience. I can’t emphasise enough the impact social workers have on they work with.

I remember distinctly my social worker visiting me regularly, seeking my views, listening and encouraging my aspirations and dreams.  Also, because my parents were foster carers for well over 30 years and were still fostering when I was training to be a social worker, I was used to social workers visiting the house throughout my life.

Andy’s letter is part of Community Care’s Choose Social Work campaign, which will champion the brilliant work social workers do every day, inspire the next generation of practitioners, and counteract the negative media coverage of the profession.

Read about why we’re launching this campaign, and the five steps you can take to support it.

Would you like to write your own letter to the next generation of practitioners? We’d love to hear from you – email ruth.hardy-mullings@markallengroup.com.

I was always motivated by wanting to help and support people to find solutions to their problems and reach their potential, informed by my own personal experience.

We would describe this now as helping to improve outcomes in people’s lives, regardless of which area of social work you are interested in.

It’s important if you are thinking about studying social work to really reflect on your own value base and what is motivating you to become a social worker.

Social workers driven by values

Social work is not usually a profession people fall into but is driven and shaped by our experiences and values. You could say that being a social worker was always in my blood.

Social workers make a profound difference to the lives of those they work with, whether this is vulnerable children and their families, or adults in a range of settings and contexts.

At times, social workers need to use their judgment to make tough decisions that might not always be well received by those they’re working with.

This means that it can be a challenging role, which sometimes gets media attention when things go wrong. But don’t let this put you off.

As a social worker you don’t practice in a vacuum and the sector has worked really hard in recent years to create the conditions where social workers can develop and flourish.

You will work in a team with other social workers, and receive support and guidance with good supervision, particularly the opportunity to reflect on you practice and professional development.

Being a social worker is brilliant. I wish you all the best in whatever path your career takes you.


Andy Smith

Vice president, Association of Directors of Children’s Services


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