Local politicians Gary Middleton and Mark H. Durkan got an insight into life at the coalface when visiting three important social work facilities across the Waterside recently.
The two MLAs took part in a ‘Be a Social Worker for a day’ initiative, which was run in partnership with the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) and the Western Health and Social Care Trust.
The opportunity saw the local politicians visit and meet with staff at the Cottages Respite Centre for children with learning disabilities on the Dungiven Road; the Chapel Road Children’s Home; and the Grangewood Mental Health Crisis Unit in Gransha.
Anne McAllister, NIASW Professional Officer said: “Social workers play an important role in improving outcomes in people’s lives. Today’s event helped our politicians gain a clear understanding of the demanding work undertaken by social workers on a daily basis”.
Kieran Downey, Executive Director of Social Work at the Western Trust, said: “Social work is a profession that is centred around people, from babies through to the older generation. It is a highly rewarding job but can also be very challenging at times. Our Social Workers deal with very complex and difficult situations on a daily basis. They never seek praise or recognition but work tirelessly to enable a voice, provide protection and ensure social justice for the most vulnerable in our society.”
Kieran added: “I welcome the interest from our two Foyle MLA’s. The insight they both gained during their visits will give them a greater understanding of what social work is like at the frontline. It will also help contextualise the unique contribution and value the profession brings to improving and safeguarding social wellbeing.”
Mr Middleton MLA said: “This was a very useful and informative day which has helped increase my understanding of the invaluable work that social workers do. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff across the various locations we visited, whilst also recognizing the challenges that they face on a daily basis. I would like to thank NIASW and the Western HSCT for providing us with this opportunity.”