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People need to be given the tools to make their own change

World Social Word Day is on 17 March 2020. To celebrate, we’ve asked social workers at Social Work England a few questions. Meet Ciara who is a social worker and an investigator at Social Work England.

People need to be given the tools to make their own change

3/12/2020 3:20:00 PM

World Social Work Day is on 17 March 2020. To celebrate, we’ve asked social workers at Social Work England a few questions.

Meet Ciara who is a social worker and an investigator at Social Work England.

What’s your role at Social Work England?
I’m an investigator. I investigate when a concern is raised about a social worker’s fitness to practise. I’m also a registered social worker. Being a social worker is important because I can empathise with members of the public, many from groups that I have supported, and with the social worker who is going through the fitness to practise process. I know the processes and likely policies in place, so I can analyse factors that might be contributing to the concern. However, it’s still really important to get feedback from other experienced colleagues, particularly our professional advisers.

What’s the best thing about being a social worker?
The ability to support people to change their own lives for the better. I believe people need to be given the tools to make their own change. Since graduating as a social worker, I’ve worked in this way with the people I have supported. Seeing people taking control of their own situation is one of the best things about being a social worker.

What’s your proudest moment as a social worker?
Supporting people to be able to live their lives and address their issues. This is going to sound odd, but helping people access the dentist was a big success in one of my roles. We worked with a lot of women who lived chaotic lives and misused substances, many of them were also homeless. Helping these women engage in any kind of health improvement was a huge success and seeing the women being able to smile again with their new dentures was great.

What’s the hardest thing about being a social worker?
Definitely the caseloads. Having a high caseload with a lot of risk is incredibly stressful. More importantly, it’s not good for the people we're trying to support. We can’t respond to them as easily and sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees.

What have you learnt from the people you’ve supported?
That we define ourselves. We are not defined by the situation we’re in. Traumatic events have a massive impact on people, but it shouldn’t take over the rest of your life. And with the right support, it won’t.

What would you say to your newly qualified self?
Be more flexible and a little less focused on the paperwork and deadlines. Social work is about the people you support and making sure you’re responsive to their needs. Also, be kinder to yourself, you’re human.

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