10 reasons to consider social work

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Illustration: Beatrice Herman
Illustration: Beatrice Herman
Illustration: Beatrice Herman

Although the term ‘social work’ covers a variety of different roles, they all centre around the premise of helping people. Indeed, the fundamental aim of social workers is to support the more vulnerable members of society and find solutions to their problems. The range of clients can include refugees, the elderly, and children in the foster system to name but a few. Social workers are often key figures in a community, and there are several reasons why you might choose to follow such a career path:

1) You can make a difference

Although a cliché, making a difference to someone else’s life is one of the most rewarding aspects of social work. Working in this capacity gives you the opportunity to make a difference to the most vulnerable members of society and UK statistics show that there really is a need for good social workers among these groups of people. According to UK GOV statistics from 2015, children in need in England are over nine times more likely to be permanently excluded from school and care leavers are almost three times more likely to not be in education, employment or training.

2) It offers a variety of paths

Social work is about helping people, so it is inevitable that the profession is as diverse as society itself. Social workers are required in a whole range of situations, so the direction your career takes you in can vary depending on what you want to do. Whether you want to work in schools, visiting homes or perhaps a medical site, the choice is huge. Moreover, the variety of paths means that you are able to change your focus later on in your career.

3) It’s not a desk job

Yes there’s admin, but the vast majority of the job allows you to work outside of an office and interact with people. This might take you to hospitals, a school or to a home. The job of a social worker is to help people, and the majority of that isn’t done from behind a desk.

4) You will never be bored

As a social worker, you could have an opportunity to bring out the best in people who might not have had someone believe in them before. The way in which social workers do this depends entirely on the person. Just as each case and visit is different, so is each day. One day a social worker might have four different visits planned, and on another just one, and even then this schedule could be reorganised. If you are looking for a job to keep you on your toes, this is definitely an option.

5) Career satisfaction

Personally making a difference to the problems in society, and being surrounded by people who are equally passionate about the work that they do makes for a rewarding and fulfilling job.

6) Challenging, but in a beneficial way

It’s hard not to get invested in cases, and not to feel emotionally involved. The highs are high and the lows are low. But the satisfaction of being able to make a difference in someone’s life is hard to beat.

7) Use and improve valuable skills

Compassion, communication, empathy, listening, creativity and resilience – all of these are skills that you need everyday in social work, but are still hugely valuable on their own. No matter what other situation you find yourself facing in life, these skills will enable you to deal with it.

8) Working with people

For the majority of the job, you get to be working with people, rather than computers and papers. For some people there’s nothing better – especially when the work that you are doing feels worthwhile and you can see the effect your help is having on people.

9) Social work is a growing sector

Earlier this year in England, almost a fifth of children’s social work positions were vacant according to BBC News. Even though the social work field and recruitment for it is growing, the need for social workers is growing too. This means that if you choose to follow the path of social work, your skills will always be required somewhere.

10) Social work puts life in perspective in a way that a City job might not

Rebecca Joy Novell, a newly qualified social worker who works with homeless children just out of custody or care, wrote a blog post for The Guardian about her job. In it, she describes how one of the things that she has gained from her experience as a social worker, is being taught the true value of things: Social work will show you some of the darkest and most upsetting sides of humanity and there will be times when it can all seem very depressing. But you begin to notice the good in people that previously you took for granted. You take pleasure in seeing children being brought up in stable homes or older people being provided with compassionate care. You become extremely grateful for all that you have and realise that true wealth does not come from material things.”

If you are interested in following a career in social work, then Frontline is a great place to start. Frontline is a charity trying to get more people into social with a mission to transform the lives of vulnerable children by recruiting and developing outstanding individuals to be leaders in social work and broader society. Its two-year fully funded graduate program combines ‘on the job’ training with academic qualification, giving you the opportunity to leave the program with a Masters in social work, as well as two years of hands on experience in the field. You can also visit their Facebook page.

To read more about social work, check out these links: 

The Guardian: How child protection social work can change vulnerable people’s lives

The Guardian: Nine reasons to become a social worker in 2015

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