A day in the life of a social worker in… France

Our last post for today is from Christine Bon, a social worker in France, who reflects on what the key social issues for social work in France. We’ll be back tomorrow with more social work tales from the field.

At the moment the main issue for social work in France is to challenge the risk and to balance the dilemma between social accompaniment towards housing (scarce) and child protection.

With the terrible lack of social housing projects in the main cities in France, and of available places in emergency shelters, and regarding the growing extension ­ both in amount and in intensity of poverty, more and more families with young children are lead to sleep in the streets.

So a day in the life of a social worker in France can be filled up by the few hours to try to find ‘a place to sleep’ – i.e. an accommodation for the coming night, in the cheap hotels of the suburbs, hoping that the family can reach it by its own means and to negotiate with the colleagues from the child protection services in order to prevent the placement of the children of these families who just can’t afford the cost of renting on the private market.

Another challenge for social workers in France nowadays is preventing impoverishment by teaching users how to reduce their bills for energy, the costs of which have risen by 30% in the last five years. We do this by organising information sessions for social work groups, social workshops and negotiation with landlords.

Intergenerational projects are also organised all over France, even in the rural areas, in order to prevent the ‘solitude’ of the elderly by social workers who unfortunately also face the absence of caring for carers programmes.

Prospect are not very brilliant nowadays, given that the economic crisis is really impressive in France, but hope comes from the alliance of social workers and civil society.

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March 18, 2014. World Social Work Day.

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