Social work needs to regain its self-confidence and pride

On World Social Work Day we need to think about the reasons we became social workers and how we can create a profession in which our children want to work

On World Social Work Day I will not be doing anything special to “celebrate” apart from going to work. I think for me, the day will be more about inward reflection and consideration of what it means to me to be a social worker. What the job has provided me with and the areas which I am still lacking in.

Questions I want to address in the coming year include: how can I learn to be better at my job? How do I reconcile the tough days when I arrive home exhausted with the good days when things fit together? How do we become more confident as a profession to the extent that we don’t need external bodies to speak for us and we don’t rely on the morsels that the media throw at us but we can stand among ourselves and have enough confidence to be proud of being social workers without having to claim a need to be like doctors, or nurses, or occupational therapists or teachers.

I see an issue of a lack of professional self-confidence. We are, in the UK, generally, servants of the state and often despised. But we also buy into it and just as I would tell an adolescent that she needs to learn to love and respect herself before anyone else will, so I feel a need to tell our still, in some ways, adolescent profession, that we need to learn to love and respect ourselves before anyone else will.

If we are not advising our children to become social workers then regardless of media interviews or social media campaigns, we still have a problem. We should work on creating a profession that everyone, including our children, will strive to join.

This is no time to be bashful about looking for approval, we need to seek it everywhere, but first internally, amongst ourselves.

So for those social workers, on World Social Work Day, it’s worth looking on what it is you want to achieve and how being a social worker will help you. And if it won’t, consider what needs to change in the profession for us to be able to realise our goals.

I love my job. I’m proud to be a social worker. I heartily recommend the profession and anything else I have done has not been as stimulating and challenging. Finally, I’d recommend this blog by JaeRan Kim. Watch the videos and reflect on why we do this and what we need to do to make our profession stronger. It isn’t about colleges and unions and professional organisations (although they all have a place), it is about self-confidence, a strong moral and ethical compass and strong reflective practice.

This piece first appeared on Fighting Monsters: the life and thoughts of a British social worker.