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​It’s World Social Work Day and we’re shining the spotlight on some of the brilliant social workers who work with us, providing care and support to the most vulnerable people in our communities and who help them make positive changes to their lives.

We spoke to Sonia who is a children’s social worker. She is a long standing colleague in our Search Social Work team.

What made you want to become a social worker?

I decided to become a Social Worker 1997, because I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives, I wanted to focus on children’s social work. I completed an access course into Social Work in order to gain an idea of what this entailed. In 1998 I enrolled on my Social work studies over 3 years and I qualified in 2001.

Tell us about your role as a social worker

I am a social worker for children and young people from babies through to 18 year olds. Over the years I have worked in a range of social work roles; Children with Disabilities, Safeguarding, Child Protection, Management, Fostering, Complaints and Allegations and Looked After Children.

I have had some phenomenal experiences throughout my career as a social worker; where I have helped and had a positive influence on others, but equally where the service and its users have had an impact on me. This journey is not just about me teaching or giving direction to people, it’s about what they have given me too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy it when I'm able to support, protect and advocate on behalf of children and young people, to make positive changes to their lives. In addition, developing a good working relationship with both the children and young people, and their families in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a Social Worker?

There are times when there are major challenges that have tested my personal and professional view point, so it is important to stay focused, objective and work as a team.

Some of the challenges can be due to a lack of resource, differing professional/organisational agendas and families not working with me to achieve the best outcome for their child or young person. The other important thing for me is, in all situations, to make sure you take care of your own wellbeing.

Ultimately I have enjoyed my career in social work and find it very rewarding, hence I am still here doing the job 20 years later and I have had great support via Search Social Work who have provided me with opportunities over the years, for which I am extremely thankful.

What skills and qualities do you need to succeed as a Social Worker?

I would say a willingness to learn from others, and not just read what the textbooks say.

You need to be able to empathise with service-users, as although you may not have experienced their adversities, that could be you had you been exposed to the same experiences.

Continue your personal development as this is beneficial for prolonging your career and understanding how best to work with service-users and to initiate change. Developing a good working relationship with team members, colleagues, and agencies/organisations is important too.

You need to also be creative with the resources you are working with, so that it is beneficial to your service-users, your team, and your organisation.

Having self-awareness, and how you can be perceived, in terms of use of language (verbally and non-verbally) is important, as well as being aware of your own wellbeing.

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in social work as you did 20 years ago?

Be willing to learn and be mindful of how you engage with service-users.You need to strike a balance between developing trust and a working relationship and doing your best to ensure that the desired outcome is achieved.

Being honest and realistic, as service-users and others will have unrealistic expectations of you, so knowing yourself, being confident, not arrogant, is important. There will be times when you will be going through various emotions; fear, self-doubt, low energy, but remember what your why is, why you came into social work.

Care for your own emotional, physical and mental wellbeing.

What impact has covid had on your role as a social worker?

Covid has created some anxieties about going out into the community and supporting service-users, because I want to do my job, but in reality not to the detriment of my life or my family's life. I think more should be done to provide consistent advice and guidance as this currently varies across settings.

Having to work with masks on all day when in the offices and during home visits is not the most comfortable. I fully understand why we have to wear a mask though.

With all of the above in social work, it's important to have a sense of humour, especially when faced with challenges. A smile and a cuppa can get you through many situations.

Whether you’re an experienced health and social care professional, or looking to gain valuable paid social work job experience as you pursue your qualifications, get in touch with our Search Social Work team today to discuss our latest opportunities and apply to our jobs today.

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