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Wales conference hears ‘shoulder to shoulder’ rallying cry

The social work profession was unable to exist in the Soviet Union and has only been able to establish itself over the past two decades, BASW Cymru’s World Social Work Day celebration in Cardiff was told by a leading official for the Lithuanian Association of Social Work.

Dalija Snieskiene spoke of the profession’s emergence over the last two decades, following the Soviet occupation and repression. “There was always thought to be no need for social services, social problems do not fit into a communist ideology. If there are seen to be no social problems then what need would there be for social services? Because of this the profession is still new in Lithuania, but we now have 5,000 social workers, so it is growing”

Ms Snieskiene went on to outline the importance of social workers being willing to learn from the experiences of colleagues in other countries, urging practitioners to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ across national boundaries. “If we do not help one another we can be as disconnected and lonely as some of the people that we serve, which is why we are proud to asked to be here on a special day for social work.”

“In Lithuania we are beginning to move into an era of accreditation and higher educational standards. All of this is defined by the International Federation of Social Work, so the international aspect of practice is vital to us.”

However, there was a note of realism struck, as Ms Snieskiene suggested that the complex challenges faced by professionals face within Lithuania can seem “a long, long way away from some of the information we get from international voices”.