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Recognising the transformative role of social workers

Today is the World Social Work Day 2024. It is a day to acknowledge, recognise and show appreciation for the hard work, care and dedication of social workers.

Shantel Thomas, Clinical Professional Lead and Course Lead at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is sharing her reflections.

For me, World Social Work Day is a time to pause and reflect on my journey in social work. This year, I am reminded of the transformative role social workers play in driving positive change and creating communities that thrive on mutual respect and sustainability.

I love being a social worker. For the activist in me, it’s the perfect role. ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’ Looking back, I can say that I was drawn to the profession because of my commitment to, and passion for, social justice.

I am also proud to play an active role in my profession.

There have been many moments throughout my career which have given me great joy and satisfaction. I bumped into a mother recently, who I first worked with ten years ago, whose children had to be looked after by family members whilst she sought help for her mental health and substance dependency. Over the years, she had worked hard to recreate a safe environment to have her children returned to her care, and I’m proud that, working as part of a team, we were able to support her emotionally and practically. She thanked me again in that moment, and then recently introduced me to her children who are now 12 and 13 years old.  Moments like these are why I trained in this profession.

At the Trust, we have a rich history in the field of social work and psychoanalytic studies. The Trust originated in 1920 as the Tavistock Clinic, initially focusing on the psychological effects of the first World War. Over time, it expanded its scope to include other mental health services and became associated with training in psychotherapy and social work. The Trust’s commitment to psychoanalytic principles influenced its approach to understanding human behaviour and informed its training programmes for social workers, psychologists, and psychotherapists. 

Social workers work with people during a time of great need. A time when they are most vulnerable, a time when they need the most care and attention. A great social worker can make all the difference to those they work with and for.   

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