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How social workers helped me to live the best life possible

Ify Nwokoro speaks to us about how social workers have been essential to helping him live the best life possible as a quadriplegic.

How social workers helped me to live the best life possible

10/23/2020 12:06:26 PM

In an ongoing series of guest blogs, people from a range of backgrounds share their lived and learned experiences of current social work practice. In this blog, we caught up with Ify, a former student at Teesside University, who had his life turned upside down after a serious car accident. He spoke to us about how social workers have been essential to helping him live the best life possible as a quadriplegic.

 

Please tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Nigeria where I grew up and lived until graduating from secondary school in 2007. I moved to the UK later that year to further my education. I spent a year at college in Reading then moved to Middlesbrough for university. I studied animation at Teesside University although I almost didn't finish the course. In my 2nd year, I was involved in a car accident sustaining a spinal injury that left me paralysed from the neck down. I have since regained movement in my shoulders and part of my arms and was able to return to university. I am now 30 and living the best life possible as a quadriplegic.

How did a social worker come into your life?

While in hospital after my initial injury, I was introduced to a social worker as part of the rehab process. She was part of the multidisciplinary team who would help with my transition back into the community, and indeed my new life.

Before you had met a social worker, what did you think of them?

Growing up in Nigeria, where the role does not exist, I was fairly unfamiliar with the idea of what a social worker was. And even in my 2+ years in the UK pre-injury, I hadn’t come across much talk about social workers let alone meeting one.

How has a social worker made a difference to your life?

From the moment my social worker actively stepped into my case it was beyond apparent why her role was crucial.

My transition from hospital to community would have been made infinitely more difficult if that position wasn’t filled. She was able to find me suitable accommodation at a time when there weren’t many available. She was able to find me cheap and sometimes free furniture to make that accommodation feel more like a home. She was a pivotal part of the team that worked with the University to get me back into education. And, she actively helped establish my continued care on leaving hospital.

Safe to say, without that initial involvement, my life could well be drastically different today and not for the better.

What do you value the most about having a social worker?

Of everything my social workers have done for me over the years, the one thing I’ve always valued more than others is having them as a compass to point me in the right direction when I didn’t know where to go. I’ve always been made to feel free to ask for help without judgement. As well as they guaranteed their best efforts would be made to help me, regardless of how that issue eventually panned out.

What advice would you give a newly qualified social worker to be the best in their job?

Self-care. Without a doubt, the toll being a social worker can take is not to be overlooked. By definition, majority of cases are going to be dealing with problems of varying and unpredictable degrees. So the average day is spent facing a lot of negative circumstances. And that’s before accounting for the large caseloads, difficult clients and a lack of appreciation from society for all the good they do (among others).

It is crucial every social worker takes out time to look out for their own wellbeing, be it physically, emotionally or psychologically. The world is better off with healthy social workers because we all need you a lot more than even we realise.

Have you got any other thoughts you'd like to share?

Only that I’m happy to see dedicated and active efforts into highlighting the positives social workers bring to people’s lives.

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