I wasn’t someone who grew up wanting to be a social worker, if I am being honest my knowledge about the profession was virtually non-existent before I went to university. In some ways I very much fell into the profession and over the last seven years, I have been asked on countless occasions ‘why do I want to be a social worker’.
My answer has changed over the last four years of practice, from wanting to make a difference, to wanting to help children and finally to wanting to help families on the whole. Whilst it is often easy for me to answer questions like these, I would not be being wholly honest if I did not acknowledge the doubts I have had in my short career. I have experienced both extreme highs and lows within my practice for a frontline safeguarding team; the highs being that feeling of achievement when you view yourself as having had a positive impact on a child or families life. My work within adoption has taught me that even children who come from the most deprived of backgrounds, still get a second change at leading an extraordinary life. Or, the more everyday aspect of my practice that has taught me a little help for some, can go a long way.
There is a lot that people will read in the media about social workers being the worst of the worst and not doing any good; if you want to be in a profession where you are popular, this probably isn’t for you. I personally feel that all the negativity has pushed me to be a stronger and prouder social worker; someone who works even harder to prove that how we are perceived does not do us justice. It is this perception that, I feel, also strives me to carry on through those more challenging days. There have been times I have gone home at the end of a very taxing day and questioned myself, doubted my decisions and wondered whether I should go into work the next day; but every day I do. If this was a career I didn’t enjoy, I wouldn’t continue on every day; because for me, the fear of not activing is greater than the fear of acting and maybe having to argue the point later.
In four short years of practice, I have witnessed what I consider to be true miracles; parents who have been written off by many, who have gone on to better themselves for the benefit of their children and are now thriving, independently of services. I consider myself to have been very lucky to have witnessed true human strength and desire to change and look forward to bumping into these families years from now, hearing their stories of what they have achieved. Whilst I have many, many more years of practice before me, I look forward to my years of retirement when I can remember these families and feel proud I was a social worker.