‘Dear social worker’

6th January 2022
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This powerful poem was written by one of our fellows, Charmaine Malcolm, Principal Child and Family Social Worker, and it is dedicated to all social workers. 

Dear social worker,

Waking up over the past few weeks to reports in the media that social workers are child killers, baby snatchers and evil people. Well, it simply is not true. There have been many children whose lives have been ended prematurely, by people they expected to protect them and not one of them died at the hands of their social worker, not one.

Social worker, whilst you are a valuable resource to the nation you are not yet as respected as other professionals, your profession has had significant fiscal deficits and this has affected recruitment, retention, resources, caseloads and of course morale. Social worker I know you work compassionately and meaningfully with children, because you know how important it is to secure better outcomes for the children you see.

Social worker, each day you wake up with a passion to help the most vulnerable members of our society, during the pandemic you have been instrumental in keeping children safe. You continued to visit children, you went the extra mile, you responded to increased complexity without additional resources, you worked whilst experiencing your own trauma and personal problems. You supported the sickness and significant bereavements without community and within your personal lives. You navigated new government systems to help our families where poverty became their new normal and food banks became their life supply. You supported families when their universal credit was reduced, you have seen mental health complexity increase amongst parents, children and amongst work colleagues. You have been exhausted, you have worked during your annual leave, you continue to come into work when you are unwell, you are anxious about your workload piling up and do not want to be a burden to colleagues. Social worker, you are always thinking, ever thoughtful, loving and kind.

You visit families where at times the risks are unknown, no baton, no shield, no panic alarm yet you boldly go.  I can imagine there have been times when your knees were knocking, armpits sweating and your thoughts were “oh no”, but you stayed, because your heart is full of gold and you go with the motto “I’ll leave no stone unturned, hell no.”

Social worker did you know that you not only keep children safe, but you also save lives. Just take a moment to…wait…what’s the word…be reflective, stop, think and say “ohhh.” I helped a child live in a safer environment outside of their family home, I helped a child tell their story to the police when they were sexually abused, it was clear that the shouting and violence between the parents were too much for the child and you said “oh no, this cannot go on any longer.” You used your research to make an evidenced based decision and you social worker helped those parents create a safer home. Social worker, I valued so much when that mum, do you remember her she said she felt a bit low, you helped her understand her baby blues and again you said let’s go. Off to the GP you go, mum receives the help she needs, but still you could not let it go. Organising a family group conference, helping the family develop a plan, your words “it must be meaningful” and you were intentional to help the family create a ‘meaningful plan.’ Social worker do you remember your words “mum can have time to JustBe’ and how wonderful it was to see the babies care supported by the wider family.  Social worker that was you, you took the time to think and see what was needed for the mum and baby.

I mean, I could go on at telling you how fabulous you are. So, you twisted my arm, close your eyes and listen to these words: you are amazing, spectacular, tremendous, energetic, wonderful, insightful, curious, exceptional, child centred, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, empathetic, research minded, reflective, awesome, skilled, professional and the reality is I could tell you how valuable and fabulous you are for hours.

Each day commit to taking 5 minutes to stop and reflect on you and what you bring to the profession. Social worker think about all the miracles you make happen. Social worker you are warm, kind, strong, compassionate and full of strength. I see you, I hear you and grateful you’re still here. Social worker the media are still learning how to respect your profession and right now you are going to rise up and not succumb to their oppression. Be courageous, be strong, be vocal and be bold because you dearest social worker are one of the mightiest and most cherished people we have in our nation overall.