Social Work and Politics
March 19, 2019
March is Social Work month in Canada.
When I left university two years ago with a political science degree, I never thought I’d find myself in the social work profession. When I discuss my educational background, people often ask what led me into this profession, but to me social work and politics are closely intertwined. However, social work and its role in the political arena is overlooked.
The social work profession is a diverse profession, with the primary goal being to improve outcomes and the quality of life for vulnerable populations. Social workers can have a powerful voice, and they view society through a strength-based lens. This lens allows social workers not only to see what is broken, but to see what is possible beyond the pain many of our clients carry. As social workers, we can be a great force of growth within our society, specifically for the poor and vulnerable populations who are often the most affected by government policies and politics. We have a responsibility to advocate to our government, and refuse policies that target, exploit and oppress our clients.
The voice and face of social workers needs to be heard and seen by our government, by our society and by ourselves. We must not shy away from the political arena; instead, social workers must unite as a profession and advocate for our clients, and be the voice for the populations we serve – especially in the ever-changing environment that is politics.
ALIGN Association of Community Services is a membership association that helps influence social policy/legislation and advocates on behalf of agencies, like Wood’s Homes, who provide services to children and families in Alberta. Associations such as ALIGN play an important and necessary role in ensuring our voices are being heard by the government.
As I work with Woods Homes, I will continue to embrace my love of politics and social work. I encourage others to recognize that social workers’ participation in politics is essential, not only to continue advocating for social justice, but to emphasize that social workers are a permanent fixture in society, especially with mounting adversity. In order to minimize that adversity, it is important for social workers to have a voice at the table of change, advising politicians of the challenges that are facing our clients, as well as the challenges facing the social workers who act as their voices