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'Thanksy', Clapping and Easter Eggs: Are Social Workers Being Forgotten In The Fight Against C-19?

UK - Pontefract, a town in West Yorkshire, England is perhaps one of the most unlikely places to find NHS inspired artwork. More famous for its links to Liquorice and Oliver Cromwell, over the last few weeks a number of murals depicting nurses as heroes began appearing on the side of buildings effected by closure due to Covid-19.

That these murals have appeared, taps into the national consciousness at a time where weekly clapping for the brave workers who are risking their lives to help others has become commonplace.

But does the nations pride at the National Health Service come at the cost of other equally brave sectors who are not necessarily being lauded in the same manner?

Walk down any residential street in the UK currently, and there is a high probability that you will see the drawings of children thanking the brave NHS workers. At 8pm on Thursday evenings, the ‘thank our NHS’ door-step clapping has become a thing. It is clear that for the most part, the NHS is being projected as the saviours of the Covid-19 crisis, yet there is a more stark reality at play.

The Social Work profession has an image problem. It doesn’t appear to want to slap itself on the back, or high-five itself as a way of promoting a positive face to the public. Instead, it cowers away, almost afraid of being noticed. In the shadows for fear of negative preoccupation with being labelled child snatchers.

Yet in NHS hospitals up and down the county, Social Workers, not nurses, are responsible for ensuring that timely discharges remain in place and that appropriate places to be discharged to. The Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP’s) in the UK are a workforce who is on call 24/7, 365 per year.

It is arguable that most of this work force is made up of Social Workers, largely employed by the local councils, not the National Health Service.

Yet, there is no clap for the Local Authority. When this is over (and yes, it will be over), the government will thank the NHS workers for their bravery. NHS workers may even be rewarded by the government with salary increases. But why is Social Work not being promoted in the same fashion?

One recent marketing gone wrong example was when Mars confectionery decided to give free Easter Eggs to NHS staff. This caused some strongly worded emails to be sent by local authority staff in multi-agency teams, understandably feeling excluded. It’s not the Easter egg, it’s the mere principle of being left out.

Without Social Work wanting to redress this balance, and wanting to purvey a sense of its own importance we fail to change how society views us. We are a positive profession. We have a purpose. But often we are too afraid to say we are Social Workers, let alone be proud of that fact.

Next time some one asks you what you do, proudly look them in the eye and tell them. 'I am a Social Worker'.

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