A group of social workers at Portsmouth City Council have come together to share their successes in the hope of inspiring others to join the profession.
Social workers sometimes get an unfair reputation on TV and in the news. This World Social Work Day, we’re giving some social workers in the city the chance to share why they think their job is one of the most fulfilling and important, supporting children and adults to reach their full potential.
Four social workers from across children’s and adults social care have told us what it’s like working in the city.
Kerry Ryan, 33 – student social work apprentice (working with adults)
“Working in adult social care, we get to support some of the most vulnerable people in society – it’s a privileged position to be in. This morning I spent time with a 94-year-old war veteran. Last week I was supporting a teenager living independently with cerebral palsy – we have a very diverse case load.
“When you first get a case people are usually at their worst point. Our role is to support them to grow and develop over time.
“The most important qualities for a job in social work are that you have to genuinely care about people, without taking things too personally, be open-minded and non-judgemental, have good listening skills.
“Think about why you want to do it – it’s not about going in and saving people, it’s about empowering people. You can’t just go in and say ‘this is what you need to do’, you need to take time and support them to come up with their own solutions, then they’re learning to do things for themselves.”
Karolyn Lake, service leader, family support and safeguarding team (working with children)
“I became a children’s social worker because I wanted to be part of ensuring vulnerable children were protected from harm and had opportunities to reach their individual potential.
“A good social worker is someone who loves learning, has empathy and is not quick to judge. They will enjoy pushing themselves and is energised by facing new challenges every day. Having a good sense of humour and knowing yourself are also essential.
“As a team, we start the day with a huddle where we share our challenges and celebrate positive outcomes together. We are a close team and I really value how we come together to support each other. You also can’t beat how good it feels to know that you have made a difference to a child’s life.”
Emma Godson, 31 – team leader, through care team (working with children)
“A job in social care really is unique. No day is ever the same. You will encounter lots of new challenges along the way and you will sometimes have to think outside of the box when supporting people.
There are some dark days but also moments of laughter as you hear funny stories from children and young people.
If you are interested in becoming a social worker, I would always recommend talking to someone about the role. It could be another social worker, a career adviser, or a healthcare professional. This will help you decide on whether it is the right career path to take. The role is more than just a job and you need to be committed and flexible. “
Bryn Jenkins, 29 – a newly qualified social worker (working with children)
“I have always wanted to be in a job that allowed me to support others. I was previously a youth worker and enjoyed the interactions I had with young people. My family work in fields like social work – so it has always interested me. I completed a master’s in social work at the University of Portsmouth and then joined Portsmouth City Council.
“I enjoy building supportive relationships with families, helping them make positive changes in their lives. This isn’t always easy or simple, but it is very rewarding.
“One experience will always stay with me. I supported a young person to get involved in a music studio, as they love rap music and write their own lyrics. I supported the young person to attend the sessions and it was amazing to see them feel inspired and engaged in something they love. I love these types of moments – they really stand out for me and reaffirm why I chose this job.”
Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education said:
“World Social Work Day gives practitioners the chance to pause and reflect on their efforts to support the most vulnerable people in our city. Social workers are one group of people who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. By sharing their inspirational stories, colleagues hope to inspire other to consider a job in care.
“It is also an opportunity for social workers and others in the sector to celebrate the work they do. We are really proud of our workforce across adult and children’s social care.”
Councillor Jason Fazackarley, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care, said:
“World Social Work Day give us an opportunity to thank those in social care for their immense efforts. Whether that’s supporting people to keep their independence or to provide a bit of help to those after a fall, a career in the profession is highly rewarding.
It also allows us to highlight the range of roles on offer, including those in home care, where you do not necessarily require a qualification, just a caring and resilient personality and a desire to help people. There is something for everyone if you are looking for new and exciting opportunities in the sector.”
World Social Work Day takes place every year to celebrate the profession. It highlights the work that goes on in the local community, supporting the most vulnerable, recognising the need to respect people’s dignity and enabling them to live independent lives.
If you think you might be interested in a career in social work, or exploring other jobs in care, visit the jobs in social care page.