Northern Ireland’s unique role in teaching other countries about reconciliation and healing trauma was praised by secretary-general of the International Federation of Social Workers Rory Truell.
Speaking at NIASW’s World Social Work Day event in Belfast, Mr Truell said he cited Northern Ireland’s peace process wherever he went in the world, “if Northern Ireland can do it, we can do it”.
Introducing a presentation on his experiences of social work in Palestine and in the Philippines, Mr Truell expressed his thanks to the people of Northern Ireland.
“You give the rest of the world hope. You give the rest of the world a vision of de-arming and working towards a peaceful solution. I know that it has been an enormous struggle and you have paid an enormous price. You are heroes".
Mr Truell also praised BASW, NIASW, SASW and BASW Cymru for its collective leading voice internationally over the years, leading on issues such as racism, awareness of human rights and service user involvement.
In turn, this leadership has encouraged other countries across the world to develop their own associations, he said.
The mood of international social work is changing on an unprecedented scale, with administrations across the world recognising that social workers have developed a very specific set of skills.
The 2014 IFSW poster to celebrate World Social Work Day has been translated into 25 different languages by members across the world, Mr. Truell said “There is a change of mood, a change of culture saying ‘yes, we do have something to say, we do have solutions”.
“Social workers around the world have developed an enormous amount of specific knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work around the world, whether in legislative context in UK, in an aid development context in Africa or under dictatorships in South America, or under laissez- faire capitalist economic systems in America. We know what’s good for communities creates stability that in turn is good for economics.
Mr. Truell acknowledged that social workers were struggling with austerity but “austerity won’t last forever, it isn’t a popular strategy, it isn’t providing the outcomes governments want – outside of Europe, governments are starting to involve social workers because they know that if they don’t have adequate social protection systems and social workers facilitating outcomes in these social protection systems, then they are going to have far more problems and far more costs in the long run.”
To read more about Rory Truell’s experiences with social workers in Palestine and in the Philippines, click on the links