The last few weeks have certainly been interesting with some eyebrow-raising moments, such as when the Government decided to tell us all that a ‘new’ regulator for the social work profession was in the pipeline. This was the last thing many of us thought was coming, but this Government is certainly full of surprises. The question on everyone’s mind was “haven’t we already been here before?”. It seems such a long time since The College of Social Work closed. Just when most of us thought social work was moving on, it seems as if the profession once again is being pushed backwards. If the past is anything to learn from, then it seems this is another move in the wrong direction! Of course, social workers want to do their job and have a regulator to support them, but to be told rather than to be involved in the discussion about a ‘new’ regulator is not a well-played move. If anyone should steer the social work profession in the right direction it should be practitioners themselves, as they are best placed to advise all and bring forward their first hand experience of what front line practice is really like.
The profession has many exceptionally talented people that can speak up for it, but it needs more practising social workers to voice their concerns. A wise man once said ‘when in a dark room switch on the light’! Social work does not lack talent, rather social workers are not being enthused enough to speak about the excellent work they do and are not being valued – leading to practitioners leaving the profession. The government does understand social work, but it is threatened by it’s engagement with social justice and is therefore forcing through damaging changes that distance social work from it’s core purpose and values, which makes the profession so unique. The elephant in the room here is how to help social workers to speak up and let them tell the government in their words about what they do. Yes, there are some examples of this happening but it is obviously not enough. The government is assured that the changes are in THEIR best interest and are in no way worried about social work’s best interests. Recently, a close friend said to me “We need more of you” and I said “There are more of us, in fact I think there is approximately 90,000 of us”. This is a time for social workers to be bold and it is practitioners who should be writing the chapters rather than having someone else write the book for us. Let us not be led, rather let us lead! And, let us be the force to be reckoned with!
Carpe diem – “Seize the day”
Imran A. Mohammed