Tomorrow is World Social Work Day and I can”t think of a more opportune time to consider the challenges and the landscape of the future for how social workers are perceived and how social work is regarded as a profession.

In the UK it still feels like an uphill struggle to be accepted as an equal member of the professionals.

There still is this mist over social work where the general public sees what they want to see or what they are told to see by the more melodramatic media. The term ‘do gooders’ is often used as a pejorative term as if we were still living in an age where the lady of the manor patronised the poor of the parish. I often remember being reminded of the early days of formalised medicine where doctors were considered to be a job in the gutter. Now the medical profession is in the top rank of public acceptance.

There needs to be more balanced in reporting social work, for that social work agencies (local authorities etc) need to open up more and stop being so secretive about some things. I’m not saying break confidentiality or discuss the details of any vulnerable people without consent. But I am saying that far more can be done to educate and demystify social work through the media.

Instead of at the point where a child has been hurt or killed by its parent there should be a number of anonymity cases given to the media showing what social worker roles are and how the system operates. Then in the midst of a crisis even though we’re not allowed to discuss an individual case, people would have a sense of what’s going on behind the scenes. It does seem particularly poignant that the only television programme in the offing about social work is a comedy with Jo Brand, this follows the comedy Clare in the Community – although there is no harm in laughing at your work, if it’s the only show in town then the vast majority of the public will have their stereotypes reinforced which again makes it so difficult tomorrow morning on the doorstep.

Take the time on World Social Work Day to celebrate your work and our shared passion.

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