Social workers make a difference in individuals and families' lives by helping them live their lives to the fullest. Often, they safeguard vulnerable individuals from harm or abuse and assist them in achieving independence. As social work is an esteemed profession in the UK, the government oversees the social work degree process. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of social workers in the UK can help you assess if this is the right career choice for you.
In this article, we explain what a social worker is, what they do, the different types of social workers, and how to become one in the UK.
A social worker is a professional who helps people live independently and protects vulnerable members of the community from any possible harm, such as children and elderly people. There are different types of social workers with an easy focus on specific categories of people and health conditions. They also work with drug addicts, at-risk families, and children at risk of abuse and neglect. Social workers typically provide assistance and guidance to those who desire to live independently; they may also compile reports to discuss with clients and serve as liaisons between clients and healthcare staff.
Some of the key responsibilities include:
1. Making recommendations on the best course of action for vulnerable groups, individuals, or families.
2. Liaising with or making referrals to other support groups, individuals, or agencies.
3. Interviewing vulnerable individuals or families to assess their need for support.
4. Organising and managing support offered to vulnerable individuals to improve their quality of life.
5. Conducting assessments and writing reports, sometimes with other agencies that meet specified timelines and standards.
6. Taking part in training programmes and other support group meetings.
7. Creating a personalised care plan for individuals or groups based on their needs, including regular visits, resource access, and clear wellness objectives. Moreover, planning and organising activities to engage people.
8. Monitoring the recovery process of patients or clients by helping and motivating them to meet the set actionable goals for effective recovery.
9. Offering counselling and nurse advocacy to their clients and helping them develop resilience, social skills, and confidence to lead independent lives.
10. Providing information to those who are eligible for support but are unaware of their rights and the various types of support services that are available.
11. They assist people in carrying out their daily activities, such as cleaning, paying bills, making appointments, and others.
12. Safeguarding the vulnerable from any abuses or exploitation so that they get the respect they deserve.
In addition to these, a social worker helps people improve their lives by promoting their human rights and eliminating social and well-being concerns. Apart from protecting the children and adults, they also support their families under pressure from breaking down. Their guidance helps to prevent the worsening of existing problems and lessen the impact of problems such as mental health issues.
On the basis of the job types in which a social worker may engage, there are primarily two classifications: statutory and non-statutory. In their statutory roles, they should adhere to the rules and regulations laid out by the healthcare system of the country. They are responsible for protecting the vulnerable citizens under their care and ensuring they abide by the rules. A statutory social worker even has the power to enforce legislation.
Although non-statutory social workers work with the same set of groups, they are not obliged to enforce the laws. They may work in a variety of contexts, including non-profit organisations, schools, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation facilities for alcoholics and addicts. Non-statutory social workers can also prevent the escalation of social problems through early intervention.
The process of becoming a social worker in the UK requires certification, training, education, and transferable skills. Here are some of the qualifications that they require you to possess:
To become a social worker in the UK, you may require a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in social work, depending on the employer you work for. Nevertheless, some employers may recognise degrees in psychology, sociology, and other related subjects.
A social worker student must have hands-on training and observation to complement their coursework. Part-time or full-time learning is allowed; however, they must take up an internship after their coursework to gain professional experience in the industry.
The required certifications will vary depending on the country and the social worker's title. Most employers prefer that social workers have an active licence to practice before they get hired. In addition, they must re-register every two years to ensure their skills are updated. There are four primary regulatory systems in the UK, namely the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, Social Care Wales, Social Work England, and the Scottish Social Services Council.
A social worker in the UK must have a combination of both soft skills and specialised knowledge. Some important knowledge areas include mental health, law, cultural knowledge, and others. They should also be able to provide counselling, be non-judgemental, be good active listeners, be able to use common software applications, be patient and sensitive, and be able to remain calm in stressful situations. Furthermore, it will be a plus if a social worker has their own driver's licence and their own transportation, although it is not required.
The average salary paid to a newly qualified social worker starts at £27,000 a year and can rise to above £42,000 a year as they gain experience and responsibilities. They can work for local authorities, healthcare organisations, including the NHS, voluntary organisations and charities, and private businesses. Some of them even work independently, setting up their own companies to contract for work, often using considerable experience and specialised expertise. They normally work for around 37 hours per week.
If you are interested in becoming a social worker in the UK, here is a list of steps that have to be taken to become one:
Social workers are classified as graduate professionals in the UK, and regardless of the route you choose to take to become one, you are typically going to require GCSEs and A-levels. These are the requirements for study, a job, or a volunteer opportunity. You can consider subjects like math, English, psychology, health and social care, biology, sociology, and foreign languages.
Getting a degree in a relevant subject can help equip you with the knowledge and skills to become a social worker in the UK. Typically, a degree or postgraduate award in social work or mental health practice is required. Admission requirements for degrees are typically two or three A-levels, whereas postgraduate qualifications require a degree in a relevant subject. You may also consider a degree apprenticeship, which typically takes three years to complete.
Once you are fully equipped with the required qualifications and skills, you can turn your attention to obtaining a job. Some of the ways to find a job as a social worker include:
a) Searching online: The UK's NHS is a great location to begin your online job search.
b) Relying on your contacts: This involves asking around or utilising social media to determine if an acquaintance or family member has useful connections.
c) Joining professional bodies: This includes organisations such as the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) that provide information about new employment openings and organise networking events and conferences.
d) Registering with an agency: The majority of social work staffing agencies will arrange short-term contracts that will allow you to acquire diverse experience in the field.
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