Come celebrate World Social Work Day with us at Sussex

Tomorrow is World Social Work Day and all of us here at Sussex, like many social workers and social work educators around the world, are getting ready to mark the occasion with a day-long event. To complement our face-to-face event we are also running a series of posts on the Social Work @ Sussex blog to mark the day and to give a space to colleagues both near and far to share their views, experiences and reflections on social work as lived experience, social work as practice, social work education, and social work research. In our first of these posts, Dr. Henglien Lisa Chen, Course Lead for our MA in Social Work, Sussex departmental representative at JUSWEC International Committee (England), and this year’s co-organiser of WSWD2014 at Sussex, welcomes everyone to WSWD2014 and shares some reflections on why it’s an important day to celebrate.

We would like to offer a warm welcome to you all to celebrate World Social Work Day 2014 by reflecting on our recent challenges, experiences and achievements in this globally tough time.

As much as valuing the importance of cultural sensitivity and localization, we are also aware that social workers in many countries share similar challenges of working within political systems where there is increasing marketisation and oppression on the one hand and working within a society that has increased high expectations of  the quality of life on the other hand.

The professionalism of social workers in many countries also faces on-going challenges. In England, for example, funding for public care services has been decreased in the last decades. The social work education bursary has experienced significant cuts since 2013. Deprofessionalism has occurred in social work with adults in particular, and in working with children to some degree.

Last but not least, the roles and capabilities of social workers and the standard of social work education and training are being questioned in England (see Munro 2012 Report on Child Protection, Narey 2014 Report on initial training for children’s social workers, and Croisdale-Appleby 2014 report on social work education).

As educators, we have responsibility to engage with the debates and challenges in our teaching. I am struck by the reaction of our students who, instead of feeling demotivated in the current tough times, say: ‘… but I am sure many of us still come to be trained to be a social worker because of promoting social justice!’.

World Social Work Day, therefore, is a significant symbol to remind ourselves of our aspirations for a global reach for social work and a leading role for the discipline and profession in standing for individual rights and social justice in the face of inequality and oppression, old and new:

  • ‘Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work’. (IFSW 2012)
  • ‘Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work’. (IASSW, 2014)

It is hoped that by sharing our experiences, we can learn from each other globally and this will further improve our education, practice, training and research in social work in order to promote human rights and social justice locally.

We looking forward to hear your stories.


March 17, 2014. World Social Work Day.

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