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BASW Chair blog: Gerry Nosowska

My speech at the England Social Work Awards was inspired by social work practice and ethics

I recently had the privilege of attending the England Social Work Awards. This is the speech that I gave, inspired by social work practice and ethics.

Our BASW Chief Exec, Ruth Allen, who has been a social worker for more than 20 years, recently wrote a wonderful description of social work that I would like to read:

“Social work is about life, treasuring humanity, building connections, sharing and promoting fairness. It is about creativity, care and love – being there to help people overcome obstacles and oppressions that hold them back. For people using our services, a social worker should be someone to trust and believe in – someone who helps you believe in yourself. Sometimes we must hold boundaries, protect rights, advocate and challenge. We are always in the midst of the messy stuff, finding ways forward.”

I want to pick up on three words within this.

The first is ‘messy’ – I think our world is messy at the moment. People are experiencing troubles sorrows and struggles. And it is the social worker role to bring hopefulness and helpfulness into that messiness.

The second is ‘love’ – We don’t talk about this much, but it is what keeps us on the right path, doing what is of value with the right values. And it is what sustains us – it’s the relationships we form with people and the care of our colleagues that keeps us going.

The third is ‘trust’ – Social work relies on human to human encounters, and it works best when there is trust. Events like tonight help to show who we are and what we can offer. And the biggest benefit, it seems to me, is in building trust.

So I want to say thank you to the Social Work Awards for tonight. BASW is pleased to be part of this celebration that builds understanding and trust in social work.

And thank you to all social workers – here and everywhere, often unseen – who keep going with love, despite our messy world.