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We are here for the "forgotten people"

Tasnim Karim, winner of BASW England's 2020 poster competition, explains her motivation for social work...

Tasnim Karim, BASW England's 2020 poster competition winner

A newly qualified social worker whose vision for the future of the profession won an award said what motivates her is a desire to support society’s “forgotten people”.

Tasnim Karim came first in BASW England’s ‘Vision for social work in 2020’ poster competition, announced at its recent annual conference in Bristol.

Her poster highlights the impact of austerity and welfare reforms on children, families and adults while also depicting an alternative route.

The 39-year-old who has just completed an MA in social work at Kingston University said: “We have a great country. I love the UK, but things need to change so we can do early prevention to prevent problems.

“We shouldn’t have child poverty. How is that possible? How can the government sit back and let that happen? If I went to India and said we have homeless people and children going hungry they would laugh at me. We are one of the richest countries in the world and we are telling them this is happening.”

Public spending cuts now mean people have to go so far down before they qualify for support, said Tasnim.

“It is becoming more and more common to see homeless people because there is no early intervention. A lot of homeless people have addictions and other underlying issues. They are forgotten people. Intervention is too late. People go to the council and say I am going to be evicted and they say when you are evicted come back to us. Things have to happen before people are helped. That is ethically wrong.”

She also believes a lack of empathy closes people’s eyes to suffering.

“You see these experiments on social media where someone pretending to be homeless falls over and everyone passes them by. Nobody wants to know. As soon as a person in a suit falls the response is completely different. We are living in a hierarchical society.”

Tasnim believes “life experience” is important in social workers and helps build empathy.

“If you want to be a social worker please be mindful that social work is about living someone’s life. Empathy should be a key quality when applying for social work. Everyone who becomes a social worker has a story. Perhaps 40 per cent of it is because they want a stable job - it’s hard work, but you can go up the ladder.

“The other 60 per cent of it is from the heart. They do it because they want to do it and sometimes they forget their own personal life.”