Skip to main content

After the applause, will you still remember us?

Jade Plant calls on the public not to forget the 'shadow workers' when the crisis ends...

Coronavirus, social work, stories, videos, poems, photographs
Share your experiences of social work during coronavirus with PSW magazine

We are people on the frontline sacrificing our own health and wellbeing in an attempt to continue to protect and safeguard those who are vulnerable within our society during these difficult times.

The coronavirus epidemic has impacted on everyone. For some, it has threatened livelihoods, forced businesses to close, make everyone work from home or furlough staff. Those of us in the frontline of care and health must continue to protect and safeguard the vulnerable in our society, risking our own health and wellbeing to secure that of your beloved family and friends.

We are social workers and NHS staff as well as many other workers who often seem to slip under the radar of recognition. Workers who are ensuring essential foods and equipment continue to be provided to systems that keep things running.

We are the cleaners who ensure that environments such as hospitals are safe to contain the virus and protect individuals working within them.

It has been a pleasure to see the gratitude and appreciation from the general public. There have been waves of cheers and applause for frontline workers and recognition of their selfless efforts to carry out their duties.

However, I wonder whether this is true recognition or temporary applause for those working in a crisis during this time of need? I question whether people truly appreciate the realities faced by these frontline professions, that will no doubt remain ongoing long after the coronavirus has been contained and vaccinated.

The reality that there are not enough resources to sustain the demands and influx of individuals needing and depending on frontline services. This is not just true with the coronavirus pandemic but in general, day-to-day.

The reality of the continuous effort required to maintain important skills that allow frontline workers to do their jobs effectively. And how this is affected by not having enough staff or resources or time to attend training to keep sufficiently updated.

Many frontline professionals do long shifts, managing complex cases which often impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing and regularly work through the night for a low-income wage.

In the current crisis they continue to put up with this and place themselves in risky situations in order to help those who need support, as well as provide for their own families. Does the community truly recognise these realities for frontline workers?

I am a children and families social worker and as much as I try to follow government guidelines I am not provided with masks, gloves and hand sanitiser to enable me to protect myself. These items are not available and are much sought after by other professions such as the NHS.

I therefore continue to perform my role while following hand washing and social distancing guidance. We do what we can in order to ensure that we uphold our legal responsibilities and duties in a time of crisis.

We are the shadow workers in these difficult times but will we still be seen when the sun comes out? Let us hope our nation continues to pull together and realises that those workers who are often poorly stereotyped, scrutinised and forgotten are the workers that will pull the country back to ‘business as usual’. So when you go back to business as usual, remember us!

Do you have experiences, thoughts or feelings of social work during the COVID-19 pandemic you would like to share with Professional Social Work magazine? Click here to find out how