Social workers in Barbados need to be provided with proper tools in order to adequately service the needs of the less fortunate in this society.
This was the consensus today of a panel of experts, including lecturer in social work at the University of the West Indies, Dr Debra Joseph, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Ruth Blackman, Barbados Family Planning Association executive director George Griffith and acting director of social policy in the Ministry of Social Care, Lee Rose.
Discussing the theme Social And Economic Crises: Social Work Solutions in recognition of World Social Work Day today, they issued a wake-up call to local professionals, urging them to be more militant in pushing for greater help for those at the bottom of the social ladder.
“In today’s Barbados where prevailing social and economic conditions of necessity will generate an increased demand for social services, the social worker cannot be expected to meet the needs of deserving clients without adequate resources. In other words, he/she cannot be called upon to make bricks without straw,” insisted the Family Planning’s Griffith.
Permanent Secretary Blackman, too, did not mince her words in calling on social workers to unite and fight for change.
“We have to build ourselves into a force . . . to become a force that we can influence policy, influence what decisions are made. So we should be keeping nuff noise where we are located, especially when we see things going contrary to what we think they ought to be,” Blackman stated.
She believes if social workers could influence that policy change, their work, or approach would become a little different, because they would be better equipped with the tools required to service the clients, and their presenting problems.
University lecturer in social work Joseph also told the professional colleagues they must let their voices be heard, while at the same time, condemning authorities for what she called the shamefully miniscule investment in people at the community level in particular.
She said that social workers were too complacent, noting that they should focus on their resilience and positive attitudes in weathering the current crisis.
The social work expert was of the view that governments too often argue they cannot afford to invest in their communities, but countered that the “massive inequity” in the society, tended to result in crime.
Rose, the acting director of social policy, concluded the presentations with encouraging social workers to be in the forefront of development in Barbados, while changing the notions on poverty.
He believes they should introduce a human rights approach to poverty and advocate for the inclusion of those who are currently being discriminated against because of their particular persuasion.