Celebrating international social work day

National social worker of the year Vidhya Biju talks about how she and her colleagues help change lives for the better

photo of social worker Vidhya Biju

I'm a social worker at Birmingham City Council but I began my social work career in the slums and resettlement colonies of New Delhi in India and involved myself by working with disadvantaged individuals, who were marginalised in society in areas of significant deprivation, both socially and economically. The people in the slums of Delhi were migrant people who settled in New Delhi City trying to earn themselves a livelihood by picking all menial jobs but had to live as squatters living in tents with no basic amenities.

My colleagues and I worked with families and communities particularly the women and children. A lot of this work involved advocating and mobilising people for their rights as citizens, using a rights-based approach – enabling and empowering people to get services as part of their rights as citizens.

This helped me to understand the effects of oppression, discrimination and poverty on human lives and informed my practice and made me apply the principles of social justice, social inclusion and equality in my work by applying the rights-based approach and constantly challenging inappropriate or disproportionate interventions.

While social work in the UK is very different to India, the values and principles that guided my social work practice remained the same. As a social worker I spend a lot of time in the community with people and so was able to witness the impact of my work every day in the lives of the people I work with and it is so rewarding.

So my approach to social work has always remained the same. I have all along enjoyed working with people, building rapport with them and making meaningful difference to their lives whether they be a child that I worked for, a person with disability or an elderly person. To me social work is all about changing lives for better for vulnerable people, who believe that you can turn things around for them when their world appears upside down. I believe that to be a good social worker one must be a good human being and to be this, a social worker needs to be able to show human qualities of patience, kindness, compassion and dedication.

Vidhya Biju, Birmingham City Council, winner of National Gold Award for Adult Social Worker of the Year, and Overall Award for Social Work

This blog was posted on 20 March 2018


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