You may already be aware that Mr Gerry Anderson, the much-loved Radio Ulster presenter, is a former Social Worker. Last week on his show I heard him describe some of his former colleagues as ‘not of this world.’ The best example he cited was of the just graduated Social Worker who asked a Belfast mother if her son ‘accessed his external environment’ only to be met with total and utter bafflement from the mother until Gerry translated this as, ‘Does he go out much?’
In my experience there are two kinds of social worker. These are the goody-goody social worker and the druggy-druggy social worker. Goody-goodies are usually greatly resented by their clients whilst druggy-druggies are often admired and respected. Unfortunately most of the druggy-druggies spend half their time out on the sick suffering from stress because, as Richard Ashcroft so eloquently puts it, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work.’
My colleagues and I may work in the social care field but we are Not Social Workers. We don’t have the professional qualification that brings in that extra several grand per annum but often the Not Social Workers are educated to a high degree. Among the Not Social Workers that I have known and know are holders of degrees in Archaeology, Media Studies, English, Journalism and Philosophy. In those rare quiet moments when we can tear ourselves away from discussions on how best to improve the levels of care and support that we give our clients we can, thanks to our educational qualifications, hold some very intellectual and enlightening conversations.
Why only the other day I was hearing all about La Tene scabbards found in riverbeds in Ireland and then a critique of the later novels of Philip Roth. I found myself at a disadvantage with the Roth discussion, as I had never progressed beyond Portnoy’s Complaint. It was suggested that this was probably for the best, as I’d likely find his later works far too shocking and offensive owing to my advanced years. It is a well-known fact that the older one gets the more tender one’s sensibilities become and the more easily shocked one is.
I myself hold a B.Sc. (Hons). in Social Administration & Policy but this is a very boring subject and no one wants to hear a thing about it. So for non-work related convo topics I have to fall back on things I read about in Heat and tales about the ‘Olden Days’. Funnily enough I’ve never yet encountered any Computing-type degree holders among the Not Social Workers. So while we former Philosophy, Journalism and Media Studies students are cleaning out cupboards, doing shift work and being verbally abused by the dispossessed all the computer wizards are sitting in cosy warm offices, minting money and writing their blogs in work hours. Sigh!