The Role of a Social Worker in Addressing Social Exclusion in Wales
During this essay I will be discussing the impact social exclusion, poverty and discrimination has in Wales, the role a social worker has in addressing social exclusion and discrimination and how anti-oppressive practice can support social inclusion. With the information that I find for this essay I will use to build upon my knowledge and use it to inform my practice during placement and when I practice as a social worker in 3 years' time.
Social work is a very diverse job working with a lot of individuals who have different cultures, beliefs, religion, sexual orientations and many more. It’s the responsibility of the social worker to have a wider understanding, knowledge and skills to provide effective interventions and support. It is also crucial that all social workers practice in an anti-oppressive way so that service users are treated with respect and their situations do not worsen when the social worker becomes involved in the individual's life. Some service users can experience social exclusion and discrimination as well as some living in poverty.
Social work has changed and adapted so much since the mid 19th centry when it was first introduced. Since the 19th centry there has been lots of changes within social work for example, the way social workers deliver care and services. This has changed due to social workers needing to be held accountable for their practice to ensure safe and guaranteed care for all service users. There are also more services and interventions to support children, families and individuals regarding education, poverty and physical and mental issues. Social workers are now also needing higher education so that they are competent within their role and are familiar with legislations and policies. Social workers are also faced with more challenges since the 19th centry such as being exposed to highly emotional situations, lack of funding and a heavy workload.
The Impact of Social Exclusion, Poverty and Discrimination in Wales
As stated by Compassion, poverty is the lack of shelter, health care, education, food, unemployment and representation. This outlines individual's inability to have their basic needs met and that those living in poverty are unable to have things such as clean water and a hot meal. According to PSE, Wales has one of the highest's child poverty rates in the UK with 200,000 children living in poverty and 90,000 children living in severe poverty. According to PSE, Poverty has a massive impact on families in Wales leaving most parent skipping meals to feed their children and leaving them feeling as though they have nothing else to cut back on to make ends meet. Also, according to PSE, a fifth of the parents living in Wales feel as though their relationships with their children suffer due to money issues and worries. According to the ChildrenInWales, lone parents who have two or more children felt more vulnerable towards poverty and having needed to be referred to a food bank as they do not have enough money to pay for food. According to The Trussell Trust, they provided 823,145 emergency food parcels to people in Wales. This shows how many families and individuals are living in poverty and cannot afford basic essentials within Wales. This shows that the poverty rates are extremely high and that more needs to be done to put an end to it and give families and individuals more resources to prevent poverty.
Social exclusion is when individuals, families and neighborhoods are not given the same resources and opportunities to succeed within society. An example of social exclusion could be when individuals who have disabilities are excluded and isolated from wider society. This can be seen as according to each other, 49% of individuals with disabilities feel excluded from society within Wales. Social exclusion is having an impact on those who are living in low-income families, those living below the poverty line and those living in poor housing which can result in those not getting the same education, employment and housing opportunities. This can be shown as according to PSE, over 690,000 people in Wales are living in low-income households. Individuals and families are being excluded from things such as institutions and services, developmental opportunities and social networks. According to Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Wales, social exclusion is impacting low-income families in rural communities within Wales as the access to local services are lessening and without a car to travel these families are going to be missing out on these services. Public transport within Wales can also cause social exclusion as public transport is expensive, unreliable and lessens towards the evening. This can result in those individuals not receiving interventions or support, lack of health care and lack of employment opportunities due to not being able to access transport. This can lead individuals to feel isolated, alone and loss of dignity. It is important that social workers empower and encourage those who are being excluded to take control of their lives and fight for their rights to equality.
According to Children’s Legal Centre Wales, Discrimination is when individuals under the grounds of age, disability, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, marriageable status, pregnancy and gender are treated differently and unfairly. An example of discrimination could be when an individual is wheelchair bound and they are not offered a job due to the lack of ramps or lifts to be able to access the work building. This is discrimination because the individual has not been given the same opportunity of employment as someone who is able to walk and is being excluded. According to Children’s Legal Centre Wales, if children in Wales are discriminated against in school this could cause them to have poor attendance, not reaching their full potential, feeling isolated and poor achievements. This could impact them later in life regarding job opportunities and going to higher education. Also, according to the BBC, suggest that 40% of people think there's more racial prejudice in wales now than there was five years ago. This suggests that discrimination is still a big issue and that more needs to be done to protect those who are being discriminated against. Diverse Cymru, stated that 70% of Asian and Black workers faced harassment during work and that 60% of participants from mixed heritage backgrounds experienced unfair treatment during work for their race. This shows discrimination in the workplace is still an issue and is something workplaces should be trying to tackle as it is not fair or right to the workers being discriminated against. Discrimination can also result in individuals quitting jobs, not using public transport and avoiding other social situations as they are being discriminated against. It is important that all social workers embrace and empower those who are different and practice in an anti-discriminatory way so that everyone feels valued and respected.
An Understanding of the Role of the Social Worker
Social workers need to address social exclusion and discrimination by giving support to lone parents, individuals with disabilities and unemployed individuals develop their skills and help them find work. Social workers would need to identify what discrimination or exclusion the individual has faced and then work with the individuals to resolve it and what actions need to be taken. For example, an individual with mental health issues has become isolated and unable to work. The social worker would need to work with the individual and give them support and interventions to be able to live and cope with their illness and become a part of society again. Another example of individuals become socially excluded could be when an older person becomes isolated or suffering from health issues. A social worker could refer the individual to community centers or day centers so that they are able to socialize in a safe and secure environment. According to GovUk, there are initiatives in place within Wales such as grants and schemes for school uniforms, free school meals, free swimming, free access to historical sites and Flying start. Social workers can recommend these to parents and guardians who are struggling financially so that their child or children are not excluded or discriminated and that their education does not get affected by financial situations so that they have the best start in life.
When working with individuals to address social exclusion and discrimination it is important that social workers have a holistic viewpoint so that the individual has their needs met as a whole and everything is considered. This means that the social worker will be able to identify any hidden barriers to fully assist the individuals and meet their needs. The social worker would also need to build trusting relationships with service users so that there is respect and effective communication on both sides. This enables the service user and social worker to be able to identify any social exclusion and discrimination and address them effectively. Social workers have a responsibility when working with individuals to provide anti-discriminatory practice and interventions and services that is inclusive to all. To do this effectively social workers would need to ensure that meetings with service users are accessible by making meetings time friendly so that the service user can use public transport or ask family and friends to be there with them to offer support. The social worker would also need to have things in place such as translators or other means of communication that the individual needs to ensure that they are able to express their needs and wants in their preferred way. It is also important that social workers give service users all the knowledge and time they need so that they know everything to be able to make their own informed decisions and choices. A social worker would also need to empower service users, empowerment within social work would be when a social worker empowers those who are in low power to take action and take more control of their lives. This can make individuals feel more confident and increase service user's self-esteem which can be achieve by helping those build social skills and involve them in problem solving activities.