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Health Minister becomes a Social Worker for a Day

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has risen to the challenge of becoming a Social Worker for a day. 

The Minister joined Social Work teams in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust to learn about the vital work they undertake and the difference they make in the lives of people who use their services.

The ‘Social Worker for a Day’ event first saw the Minister visit Cookstown Community Services Centre to meet Social Workers who provide care to older people. After discussing the innovative approaches taken to provide home care in rural settings, the Minister visited a service user to learn first-hand how Social Workers support older people to live independently in the community.

The Minister then travelled to Sperrin House in Magherafelt to meet with Children’s services Social Workers to explore the challenges they face and discuss the rewarding aspects of their work. The Minister met with staff from Family Support and Intervention, Looked After Children, Family Placement, and Children With Disability Teams.

Finally the Minister visited Tafelta Rise, a supported living scheme for young people who are either leaving care or who find themselves homeless at the age of 16-21 years old. The Minister spent time with the young people learning about the help they are given by Social Workers as they prepare for independent living.

The event was run in partnership by the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

Speaking about her experience the Minister said, “Social workers play an invaluable role in our communities and I was very keen to learn more about the work they do. I was fortunate to have experienced this first hand today and to see the positive impact they are making to people’s lives in the community here.”

Marcella Leonard, NIASW Chair, welcomed the Minister’s willingness to get involved. Ms Leonard said, “Social workers play an important role in improving outcomes in people’s lives. Events like today’s provide a useful insight into the challenging work undertaken by social workers on a daily basis and I thank the Minister for taking part”.

Marie Roulston, Executive Director for Social Work for the Northern Trust, said: “Social workers provide a very valuable role within the Trust supporting people of all ages and demographics, in order that they are protected and supported to live life to their full potential.  Staff were delighted to have the opportunity to describe to the Minister the value of their work and the difference that they can make to people’s lives. I would like to thank NIASW for facilitating this visit as it helps to increase understanding of the varied role social workers undertake."