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Independent experience

In the last week, as an independent social worker, I have found that I am at home with flexibility in my work schedule in a way that hasn’t been the case for a long time.

Across the country communities are coming together to help people who are socially isolating because of the risk of Covid-19.

I want to share a few experiences because, in the midst of lots of uncertainty, there are some uplifting things happening. And opportunities to do community work in a way that really fits with social work values.

My parents live 200 miles away and a local group has dropped a card through their door to provide contact details if they want to be contacted on a regular basis, or need help with supplies or medication. This is happening in my local community too, and you can find and link into a mutual aid group.

Local businesses are adapting to provide support to people who are socially isolated. My local shop has gathered a list of people, who can deliver the food parcels that they are making up to send out locally.

Groups are finding ways to build social connection and occupation for people stuck at home. A local music group that I am involved in has set up a weekly choir based on Sofa Singing that enables people to get together in their own homes and sing.

I have been contacted directly to give blood urgently as the NHS still needs supplies. NHS staff have adapted the process so that, if you can travel safely to the centre, you can do this.

It’s also heartening to see independent social workers on social media sharing learning resources, offering virtual sessions and organising peer support groups. Connection, learning and mutual support will be essential in the weeks ahead.

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Now the Coronavirus bill is likely to enable social workers who are not currently registered to go onto a temporary register with their regulator. This register would be used by local employers to find additional social workers if their services are needed. I’ve spoken with other independent social workers who are already registered but not currently in practice, and people are keen to come forward to return to practice if this is needed.

Of course, many independents are caring for others or having to self-isolate. Others are financially pressed and stressed, and it isn’t clear how the government will respond to this. The last BASW independents bulletin asked for us to share experiences so that BASW can tailor its response and lobby for us.

Overall, though, I see independents getting involved in their communities, bringing their social work values and skills to help in creative ways, and preparing to help out wherever needed in the weeks ahead.

An independent member