What do you think of when you hear the words 'Social Worker?' Many of you may think of tired professionals, difficult decisions and turbulent families. You may also think of the system they work for, poorly funded, oversubscribed and badly organised. Social workers have their work cut out for them wherever they work. The Guardian Social Lives research study (2014) found that 90% of social workers in the UK feel undervalued by society, 85% said negative press makes their jobs harder to do and only 3% felt that Social Work has a positive public image. I think we can all agree that social work is not a perfect profession and the systems they work for are certainly not perfect either. However, I would like to suggest that developed countries don't know a good thing when they've got it. England alone, for example has over 30,000 children's social workers providing support to children and families who are at risk. If these workers were not there for children who would be?
Whilst catching up with our team in Uganda this week, we heard of the latest developments at our Ewafe project. At the end of last week our social workers travelled over 6 hours along poor roads to visit children's families. Come Monday they were off again making visits to children who had been referred by the local authorities who were at risk and needed to be taken to a place of safety. A few weeks prior they travelled by car and two different boats to a remote island in the lake without knowing whether or not the information they were going on was correct. Thankfully they found the family they were looking for after two days of travelling. Our Ewafe project only employs Two, yes TWO full time social workers. These guys work their hearts out to ensure that children are safe and once children are within our care they tirelessly work to find extended family members so that children can go back to living in a family environment.
Whilst researching, I found the following definition of social workers:
'Social workers are change agents in society and in the lives of the individuals, families and communities they serve.'
Some of the children and families we work with are in desperate need of a positive change in their lives; whether that be a warm bed, a roof over their heads, emergency nutrition and healthcare, counselling or family reunification. Social workers are vital to ensuring that children who come into emergency care finally do get placed in loving families and do not have to grow up in an institution. Although they are required to make tough decisions, social workers are the front line personnel who keep children safe whether they are working within established government systems or NGO's and we need to support them.
We desperately need more of these 'Change Agents' at our Ewafe project to help keep more children safe. If you would like to sponsor a social worker please get in touch today.