20 years of social work…

20 years ago I became a social worker.

It seemed like the thing to do.

I was driven by a desire to do a job that had at its very centre the desire to help other people. I think this was driven by a number of things- my own troubled childhood, a social conscience that was stoked by a progressive education and perhaps above all, my faith.

It was a mix of motivations that I have never quite escaped- despite the frequent screaming frustrations of working within a bureaucracy, and the early disillusionment with the idealism of being a genuine change agent- working both within and against the state.

It survived the huge pressure of work in inner city Greater Manchester with people in mental health crisis- in what could be a very scary, violent place. It survived because I met some wonderful people, and there was value in kindness and caring, even if I often felt impotent and ineffectual when faced with such overwhelming need.

It survived work as a therapist in GP surgeries- seeing 6-7 people a day with a wide variety of brokenness. Along the way I became more aware of my own brokenness- and aspired to become a wounded healer.

It survived a move to Scotland, and an encounter with a different kind of stress- where the busyness was driven by isolation and lack of resources over a wide rural area.

It has even survived a move into management, with all the power mongering and encounters with the sociopaths.

But under the recent onslaught, the flame flickers dimly. I am tired. My blood pressure is high. I suffer from cluster headaches. Sleep fluctuates. All the classic signs of approaching burnout.

But then- it has been a bad day. And there are still better days- perhaps tomorrow…

And I am trying to do the right things to try to keep the balance towards the centre.

In the hope that the motivations that took me into social work survive, well- survive social work.

4 thoughts on “20 years of social work…

  1. I think it is a great calling and an underrated one.

    I think it is one that burns people out- the demands are so great and for many there is no magical ‘cure’. So few outside know what you do.

    I give thanks for you and all the lives you have touched and people you have trained…

    I hope that you find some healing spaces in the next few days.

    Prayers as ever.

  2. Glad to have found your site – originally came here looking for some of your poems as seen on jonnybaker.com and Aoradh. But then, even pieces like this made me really thankful and greatful I stopped by!

    Looking forward to dropping in again – especially to see how your Christmas (as per the November 2 post) turns out. That is something my wife and I have also been talking about for so long, and we have always done things a little differently, but I am always feeling more and more the push to keep going, keep growing, keep giving ;] I confess, it is so hard at times!

    Anyways, blessings on you and yours – love the poetry by the way!

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