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'Never have I been so proud of social work'

COVID-19 may have turned our world upside down, but children's services director Catherine Knowles praises how her profession has adapted and continues to support families...

Coronavirus, social work, stories, videos, poems, photographs
Catherine Knowles pays tribute to social work teams

Published by Professional Social Work magazine - 30 April, 2020. Share your COVID-19 experiences here.

Never have I been so proud of my profession, my staff and of my teams than over these past weeks. We have played our part by ensuring and supporting vulnerable children and their families are safeguarded, not alone and provided with practical help where needed, working alongside our education, health, police and all our public sector colleagues.

COVID-19 has without doubt turned our world upside down, but the strength, resilience and professionalism of social workers up and down this country has been amazing, yet often forgotten as they quietly go about their day to day work, in a world that is without doubt different and surreal.

Like everyone else, we have had to change, adjust, adapt and work in a totally different way, which for many is alien, unnerving and at times lonely, as you no longer can easily turn to your colleague who sits next to you, to ask that question...

No longer can you just quickly, jump up and knock on your manager’s door to ask them for some advice, or to help solve a problem you have, as we sit in our respective homes, working alone for long periods of the day.

The team banter, the camaraderie, the shared lunches, have all disappeared, replaced by computer screens and conference calls, where if you are lucky the connection may just let you see one another, and allow you a slight glimpse into the window of your former working everyday life.

Yet despite these changes, this new way of working, social workers have stood up tall and faced the challenges both for themselves personally, for their fellow colleagues and more importantly for the children and families who even more so need our help.

I came into social work because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children, young people and their families. And while a key part of my role as a children’s social worker has been to protect, it was equally a key part and just as important for me to help children, young people and their parents/carers to solve and cope with problems they were facing in their day-to-day lives.

Helping to solve, cope and advocate for children, young people and their families is what children’s social work is really about, and never before with all the various legislative changes, intensive scrutiny, national guidance over the years, have we been able to finally say this is our time to be the social workers we all aspired  and wanted to be.

A Children’s Social Worker…

A hand that holds you back

When you need to be kept safe, and

Pushes you forward when

You need to be Brave

To all social workers, thank you, you're doing a brilliant job - and please stay safe!

Catherine Knowles is a registered social worker and an interim director of children's services in the West Midlands

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

This article is published by Professional Social work magazine which provides a platform for a range of perspectives across the social work sector. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the British Association of Social Workers.