There are a lot of myths about social work in the United Kingdom. In order to understand the social work sector correctly, it is important to explore some of these myths.
Social Workers are all unqualified Do-Gooders
Some members of the public assume that social workers are just well-meaning people who want to involve themselves in other people’s business. However, this is not the case. Although kindness and integrity are important qualities for a social worker, all social workers must also display academic skill. It is important for social workers to be properly trained before they become involved with clients. Social workers must have an undergraduate university qualification (or equivalent) to be able to practice.
Social workers in the UK must also be registered with an industry body. The industry body helps to ensure that standards are maintained across the country. A national framework is in place to ensure that all senior social workers have proven their abilities and met certain standards.
Social workers must also pass a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. This check is done to ensure that the social worker does not have a criminal history which could affect their ability to work with vulnerable people.
Social Workers try to break up families
Social workers are often portrayed as child snatchers or home wreckers; however this is far from the truth. In reality, social workers will always do everything that they can to try to keep a family together, as long as they can reduce the risk of harm to all of the family members. In the circumstances where social workers decide that it is no longer appropriate for children to live with their birth parents, social services will try to place the children with close friends or other family members wherever possible.
There is a tendency for families to mistrust social workers, because they feel that an outsider is coming in and judging their family. However, the primary goal of social workers is to support and protect vulnerable people. In most occasions, removing a child from a family will help to protect multiple individuals. This act helps to protect the parents as well as the children.
Parents are able to get help and support before they do something that they may not be able to recover from. Most forced separations are only temporary and they give parents the opportunity to sort things out and prepare for the return of the child or children.
Being a Social Worker is very dangerous
Many people think that being a social worker is a dangerous job and always involves working with dangerous people; however this is not always the case. Although social workers can face threats, verbal abuse and harassment, there are systems in place to try to protect social workers. The British Association of Social Workers runs regular courses for social workers who want additional guidance on dealing with potentially violent individuals. Each organisation should also conduct risk assessments to help to reduce the risks faced by social workers.
Potentially violent individuals will be treated with special consideration and social workers may use the support of Police Community Support Officers (PCSO). Organisations should also have additional measures in place to safeguard lone workers. These measures aim to support Lone workers if an incident does occur, by getting help as quickly as possible.
Social Workers only work with poor people
Social workers aim to help some of the most vulnerable people in society, and this may involve working with people in lower socio-economic groups. However; social work is not limited to poorer people. Social workers may also work with other groups, including; older people, people with learning difficulties, people with mental health issues, children with developmental disorders and people who are hoping to be able to foster or adopt vulnerable children. They work to try to maintain equality and diversity in all community groups. Social workers may also work with people who have a criminal past, such as young offenders or people who are leaving prison. This is important work as it helps people to reintegrate into society.
Social workers should be volunteers and not tax-payer funded
Social work has a basis in voluntary work and some social workers do work for charitable organisations. However, state funded social workers play a very important part in maintaining a functional society. Many social workers are involved in the care of the elderly, who have already contributed to British economy and society throughout their lives. Social workers help older people to maintain their dignity in their old age.
Everyone else in society also has a right to be supported during difficult periods. Being a social worker can be a difficult job and social workers should be paid an appropriate amount for what they do. Relying on voluntary workers would mean that many vulnerable people did not get access to the care that they need.