Becky Salter on the life of a student social worker and being a BASW member
BASW Cymru met with student social worker and BASW member Becky Salter to discuss her experiences so far and about being a BASW member.
Becky previously had a career in children’s services as a registered manager but decided that her passions and skillset would have more room to develop as a social worker. Becky is currently in her second year studying social work in the University of South Wales, Newport.
She told BASW Cymru: “I would definitely recommend other social work students to join BASW. When you enrol as a first-year student you are bombarded with lots of information, so signing up with BASW seemed like something you can put off. But it’s not long before you are fully in the swing of study, assignments and then placements. BASW gives you that bit of additional security. You also have any additional information if you need it. It’s important to have that professional association back you up if something were to go wrong.”
Becky also discussed her route into social work, her previous work life and why she chose the profession.
She continued: “I have had quite a varied career (prior to social work). I worked in children’s services for eighteen years where I was a registered manager in residential homes and had worked closely with social workers and team managers. I was involved in quite a lot of multi-disciplinary settings and decided that I didn’t want to do that forever and I looked at a few options that really appealed to me… I was qualified other than a social work degree, so I decided ‘I’m 43 and maybe its time to go back and do something academically and get the experience of what it is like to be a social worker’.”
BASW has long campaigned for better working conditions for social workers as the profession has dealt with the effects of years of austerity. Becky also discussed her worries about entering the profession and the comfort her work and life experience bring her when confronting those issues.
Becky said: “I would be dishonest if I said I had no worries about going into social work (with austerity and staff turnover). That comes with my age and experience of working in children’s services and seeing the turnover that the children in my care had, the number of social workers they had and with the caseloads that social workers dealt with that meant that they couldn’t give all of the time that they wanted to give. So I think its made me professionally wary, but I think my experience has given me a balanced approach to things, to know that it’s going to be hard work, but to also be able to speak up if needed to say ‘ this is my limit, I don’t think I can take on any more or I don’t know something’. I’m not afraid to ask as I’ve had to mentor and recruit staff, so I know what I might expect in return and how I need to act professionally.”
Becky is also a valued BASW Cymru committee student representative and spoke about the value she gains from being around a wealth of experienced and passionate social workers.
She said: “My experience on the BASW committee has been great! There’s been one or two occasions where I’ve felt like a bit of a fish out of water being surrounded by so many knowledgeable people with so much experience. But they have all been approachable, friendly, welcoming and they all keep sending me useful information. I haven’t been afraid to ask them for help either about my upcoming placement or any setting I don’t know about and if they have any recommendations. They have been getting back to me straight away and they will send me across any information I need. From that point of view, it feels really inclusive, there’s nobody saying, ‘you’re just a student, what do you know’, they just bombard me with information to help me, which is always good.”