Empowered Workers Take the Lead
I recently attended a Team Day for a Social Work Team in my role as an Independent Social Worker employed for a specific project within the team. I was impressed with the leadership – complex issues were raised with honesty. During the day however I became even more impressed with the way that the Social Workers and Social Work Assistants grasped the issues facing them and took it upon themselves to constructively address these. Of course there were expressions of frustration at the lack of time staff have to work to a standard they expect of themselves and which is adequate for customers’ needs and expectations. Social Work staff, most definitely are justified in feeling aggrieved and frustrated at the relentless bureaucracy they face and the limited time they have to spend with people they provide a service to. A lot of time could have been spent dwelling on this during the day, retreating to a helpless and powerless stance. This was not the case; the energy of individuals was contagious and inspiring and rather than becoming defeated by the enormity of the task before them, they took responsibility for seeking practical and sensible solutions.
The lesson learned is that without this positive energy individuals will struggle to survive in such a difficult climate, where jobs are emotionally draining and where resources are ever more stretched. The challenge to equally hard pressed managers is that if individuals are not surviving, neither will the team. And it is this team, as a whole, that provides the vital services that vulnerable people need in our communities and enable the local authority to deliver services and meet objectives.
This team day was an inspiration to me. As an independent social worker I am fortunate to be able to play my part in giving support to the team in the valuable work that they do.
I take my hat off to you; and I hope that I will be made welcome again in your team.
Helen Jackson Brown
Independent Social Worker
21 11 2013