Gathered for a morning of reflection on the occasion of ‘World Social Work Day’, scores Social Workers from across Guyana were encouraged to be proud of their profession and the hard work that they do.
The charge came from Mr. Arnold Mickle from the Association of Professional Social Workers. He pointed out that the 45-year-old Association is currently challenged by a decline in active membership, a phenomenon he believes is linked to social workers not seeing themselves as the professionals they are.
“One million social workers graduated from the University of Guyana [since the programme was introduced in 1971] but today the association only has about 15 – 20 active members. This is a testimony to fact that we don’t value our profession. Those are hard words but they are true,” he said.
Mickle said the University of Guyana has proven to be equipped with the tools necessary to produce highly qualified men and women in this field but he hastened to add that being a social work graduate was far removed from being a professional.
“Not everyone with a desire to do good is a professional social worker, they may be a good philanthropist but not a good social worker.”
Mickle said to change this perception is to change the perception of social work graduates, encouraging them to wear the profession as a badge of honour, the same way Lawyers and Doctors do.
“We need to change the mindset of practitioners because many of us who practice it don’t professionalize it,” he added.
The 2018 World Social Day highlights ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’. This is the second and final year of this theme of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.
World Social Work Day is celebrated on 20th March every year and it is the key day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Protection, Lorene Baird, in her remarks highlighted the contribution of social workers to Guyana, pointing out that they make a huge impact on the nation, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
She encouraged social workers to be resilient and to be proud of their profession as they continue to improve the well being of society.
The event saw social workers from non-governmental organizations in attendance but it also marked the coming together of a group of professional under a celebrated banner.
Several awards were presented to social workers for their sterling contribution to helping individuals, families, groups, and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being.