Another ‘Stand Up for Something Day’ is here in the form of World Social Work Day. Across the calendar there are numerous noteworthy days that should demand our attention and support; International Women’s Day (8 March), Martin Luther King Day (16 January), World AIDS Day (1 December). So what makes World Social Work Day so important to me and worth standing up for?
When I think social work I think people; individuals, communities, families and children. I think about change and hope; transformations big and small that make a real difference. I think about voices; loud ones, quiet ones, unheard ones; all powerful, though some less recognised, accepted and validated. I think about how I can hear and increase the visibility of those unheard voices, their stories and experiences often characterised by loss, discrimination, poverty, abuse and mental ill health.
This year’s World Social Work Day theme of promoting community and environmental sustainability seemed particularly poignant in light of the numbers of displaced children and families across the globe, existing and being forced to live in environments we would simply not wish to sustain or tolerate. The task of social work can feel at times overwhelming, not just the day to day challenges of the job, but the wider societal issues of poverty, war, conflict and oppression that we cannot fail to consider or ignore.
I am standing up on World Social Work Day because I believe in social justice and that social work makes a difference across the world in so many ways, shapes and forms. This is why I continue to practice social work, to teach it and time permitting, to write about it. My family are standing up for social work because social work is intrinsic to us; it has taught us about patience (late finishes and long days are not always conducive to family life, but demonstrate that others are important and have greater needs than ours), about difference, about inequality; we are its champions and its supporters and we are standing up for it.