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Social work - a human rights profession speaking up for the voiceless

Social work is a “human rights” profession that should celebrate its achievements supporting “those who are voiceless” in society.

That was the message from Christina Martin, European President of the International Federation of Social Workers.

Ms Martin was speaking at the launch of a major conference of social workers in Edinburgh.

Addressing delegates attending the International Federation of Social Workers European Conference, she stated social workers were practising in “times of crisis”.

She highlighted the frustration of social workers who speak of being overwhelmed by difficulties arising from “draconian austerity measures” and cuts to welfare and social care budgets.

In the face of this, she said, many social workers have lost their jobs or are enduring cuts to salaries, despite dealing with an increasing workload and greater challenges in their work.

However, Ms Martin said social workers had a “duty and responsibility” to act and “stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are suffering the greatest deprivation”.

She said: “Our achievements are more visible and the voice of our profession stronger when we speak on behalf of those people we support and represent, especially those who are voiceless.”

Ms Martin added: “Social work is a human rights profession, having as its basic tenet the intrinsic value of every human being and as one of its main aims the promotion of equitable social structures which can offer all citizens security and an opportunity to contribute and be valued.

“We are proud to be social workers. We have a lot to celebrate by having embraced such a wonderful profession.”