Could you be a social worker?

AnnieM, March 23, 2010

There has never been a more pressing need for dedicated and passionate social workers as there is now. In Britain, we are currently facing a dire social worker shortage, leaving the vulnerable members of our society (the elderly, the disabled, young people and children) particularly at risk.

Social workers play a vital role in keeping our society together. While around half* of social workers support struggling families and work with children and young people, many also provide extra support for the disabled and the elderly and those in mental health crises.

Not all social workers are employed within a local council, although many are. Some work within a NHS trust, or within the third sector (NSPCC or Barnado’s for example).

What is the difference between social work and social care?

Some social workers start their career in social care although social care is also a career in itself. Typically, there are no formal qualifications needed to get into social care and on-the-job training is provided. Social care usually involves providing personal care and assistance to the elderly or disabled. Currently, the Department of Health in conjunction with Jobsgopublic are running a Social Care Campaign during March which focuses this year on Dementia awareness.

Those in social work are formally trained to handle their clients social, emotional and physical problems and are able to make high-level recommendations as to the care needs of their client. Formal qualifications (such as an honours degree) are essential in this field.

Why consider a career in social work?

It’s true that social work has received a lot of bad press over the years. But the reality is that no career is fool-proof: all jobs come with their own stresses (and social work will always carry high levels of responsibility, and stress levels go hand-in-hand with this). So whilst social work is tinged with controversy at the moment (especially in Children’s Services, see a previous blog entry on the issue) there still remains many good reasons why social work is a good career to get involved in:

• People-orientated: more so than any other career
• Empowering: supporting clients to take control of their lives
• Job satisfaction: when you see the positive changes you've helped create
• Greater responsibility: in changing people’s lives for the better
• Supportive team work: you’ll never work in isolation as a social worker
• Challenging: room to grow and develop
• Local incentives: Many local authorities are offering financial incentives to recruit more people into social work, such as Surrey county council who are offering £2,000 start up payment for children’s social workers who are new to the area, plus a one-off market supplement of £1,500 per annum. social work and social care vacancies:
Department of Health social care careers:
Gloucestershire County Council:
Volunteering opportunities:
Surrey County Council social worker vacancies:

*statistic from Careers in Social Work Booklet p.5 produced by the Department of Health Feb 2010.