Luke: taking my social work experiences into the policy field
Luke is currently stepping away from social work as he feels the system that is currently in place prioritises tasks over relationships and meaningful change. With a distinction in his master’s degree, Luke will take his knowledge and social work experiences into the policy field to try to influence the changes he believes are necessary in the sector.
I am incredibly proud to say that I managed to achieve a distinction in my Masters in Advanced Social Work as part of the Frontline programme. This past year completing my MSC alongside working full time as a social worker, completing my ASYE portfolio and getting through a pandemic, has been a huge challenge. There were so many times when I thought about how much happier I would be if I just gave up on the MSC.
I am so glad that I persevered because I have learnt so much about myself and what I bring to my social work practice through my research. It has helped me to have difficult conversations in a more empathetic and understanding way with the families I have worked with. I have received feedback such as “with you it felt different and not like a tick box” and “you actually listened to me”.
Social work is such a demanding job that so often we have very little time to plan for visits and social workers minds can be on the thousand and one tasks they have to complete, rather than on the conversation at hand and the relationship building opportunity each visit presents us. I have been privileged to be able to have some of the deep and personal conversations I have had with the families I supported. To be trusted with information many parents have not discussed with anyone and be able to support them to develop their own ideas around change is hugely rewarding.
However, I plan to take a step away from social work now and pursue a different career path. The system that is currently in place prioritises tasks over relationships and meaningful change. Simply, I struggle to fit into it. Not to mention the numbers of wonderful and passionate colleagues I have seen break down due to the stresses and workloads. One of my favourite managers used to say “you can’t give from an empty cup.” I worry that many social workers around the country are trying their best to give when they themselves have very little left.
I may return to social work in the future and I hope to be more able to set boundaries for work as well as to fight the task-oriented pressures that are placed on us and impede us from doing meaningful work. The system needs to change and I will take my social work experiences into the policy field to try and impact some of these changes.