What do Social Workers do?
You form partnerships with people, helping them to assess and interpret the problems they face and supporting them in finding solutions.
Sometimes you provide the service itself – you are advocate, guide, hand-holder, or critical friend. Other cases are complex and require carefully organised and communication 'packages or care' that can include doctors, nurses, lawyers, police, court officials, probation workers amongst others. Whatever the situation, you need to know how the law works, what services are available and how to put them to best advantage on behalf of your client.
You have certain legal powers and duties which are in place to protect people who cannot protect themselves, for example someone with a mental illness who is a danger to themselves or to others, or a child who is at risk of abuse.
This is a job carrying significant responsibility. It requires initiative and commitment, as well as professional knowledge. Being interested in people is important, but it's not enough. You have to be quick thinking, thorough, persuasive, non discriminatory, non judgemental – above all, committed to seeing things through.
It sounds demanding and it can be but you do not work in isolation. Mostly, you work in a team and have close support.
There are two primary client groups in social work: