Whatever your personal views on the referendum and its outcome, many of us will be reflecting on the impact it will have on our communities, families and those we work alongside every day. I’m thinking about people and their carers, our colleagues; in short – each and every one of us.
In these uncertain times, as social workers and social care services, we have an important role to play in bringing communities together and working with the complex feelings many people are experiencing.
I am very concerned to hear about people experiencing racist or hate comments and actions from others and we must be alert to supporting people who use services to make sure we are fulfilling our safeguarding responsibilities.
We also have a role to play in challenging negative comments and attitudes to staff who are providing care and support for people, whoever might make such comments.
There are an estimated 80,000 people from the EU working in our social care sector and they make a vital and valued contribution to supporting people with social care needs. Managing relationships, improving understanding between people and continuing to promote respect and dignity for all is in our DNA.
In each of our organisational settings, we can make a valuable contribution to thinking about people in their social contexts and the things that can make a difference given the difficult times people are facing.
While everything feels as though it has changed, some important things are still the same. People still have a right to be respected, treated with dignity and valued for the richness and wonderful contribution our diverse workforce and communities bring to all of us.
Councils will be working across their areas to continue to strengthen communities. Social workers, OTs and social care staff together with health, housing and other public service colleagues can provide leadership at all levels to make our communities safe and good places to live, work and play.
Local government has also been a leader in equal opportunities and diversity. Social care professionals’ influence in challenging discrimination and oppression in relation to ethnicity, background, gender, disability, age, faith and sexuality is something of which we should be proud.
Across the social care sector many people are taking part in a visual campaign to demonstrate a united and diverse workforce and one which reflects an equally diverse residential community –#unitedwecare.
As an immigrant and someone who has felt the pain and heartache that racist attitudes and abuse had on my parents and grandparents, who simply wanted to work hard and make a good life for their families and communities, it is deeply saddening to know that many of you are coming into contact with these surface tensions.
Dealing with anxiety and fear is challenging and can often lead to scapegoating others, whoever fits the bill. So it is imperative we do all that we can to consolidate belonging, safety and make sure we value every citizen we work with. We will use our skills and capabilities in relationship based approaches to do this.
I continue to be humbled by the excellent practitioners across the country who are making a real difference to the lives of some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in our communities.
Now, more than ever, we have a very important role to play in making our world a better place. It is also essential that you as social workers take care of yourselves and have the opportunity to reflect on your practice and wellbeing and access the support you need.
Hopefully, the journey we are on together will bring us to a better place, but we need to look after each other on what is proving to be a roller coaster of a ride so far.