If the Social Work Tutor goes forever, you need to know why
At the heart of everything I do as the ‘Social Work Tutor’ is the need to stand up for those of us who are out there working on the frontline of social work every single day.
This doesn’t mean I’m against anyone else, just that at the forefront of my mind is the need to support the social workers who are actually out there doing the job.
This is why I promote campaigns against unfairly accrediting social workers. Why I give voice to social workers who are under so much stress they’re burning out. Why I was the only person to give a platform to social workers going on strike in Kirklees.
Somebody needs to be standing up for social workers, and everyone else seems to be doing such a bad job of it that I’ve got to try and do something myself.
Our government isn’t doing anything positive.
Our social work leaders have allowed our profession to get into a terrible state.
Our experts sit back and talk but don’t do anything meaningful to make a difference.
But the debate is dominated by these people who are thriving in the chaos of a broken system and, for me, that’s wrong. That’s why I write about the things that matter to us social workers who are out there working frontline roles.
The truth is hard to take
The nature of pointing out failings is that people don’t like to hear what they’re doing wrong. They’d much rather remain in their small echo-chambers and circle-jerk about all the things they’d like to achieve, then make excuses for why this didn’t happen.
Our department is failing- blame the social workers, they aren’t working hard enough!
Our association isn’t standing up for our profession- blame the social workers, we need more of them to join us so we can do better!
Our college of social work closed because of financial mismanagement- blame the social workers, they didn’t support us!
Because I raise these issues and speak the truth about social work, I’m an easy target for people. I don’t have a media team, I don’t have a solicitor, I don’t have any money… it’s just me.
Far easier to try and defame me for what I’m saying, and how I’m saying it, than actually try to make a difference in the world.
“SWT made a meme saying social workers find shit out, he hates service users”
“SWT made a meme joking about social workers digging up the past, he’s bringing the profession into disrepute”
“SWT told someone that using the term ‘SS’ is offensive as it has anti-Semitic connotations, he’s bullying people”
“SWT raises an issue with a social work union charging £539 upfront to join, he is bashing us”
It goes on and on… but you get the idea about the kind of things I have to face every single day. I face these things from people who see me as some sort of persona non-grata because I give an honest view about what it means to be a social worker and try to bring a little bit of humour into bad days by making silly memes about the job we do.
What is the price I pay for doing this?
I’ve had the patron of BASW publicly accuse me of lying and stating that I’m damaging the profession.
I’ve had a BASW committee member boycott a BASW student event because I was due to speak there.
I’ve had the Chief Social Worker for Northern Ireland promoting anonymous twitter accounts set up with the sole intention of causing me harm.
I’ve had the head of a social work university department tell me “there is no way I would want you near our students”, without giving me any justification for barring me from her campus.
I’ve had a small social work publisher sharing content from anonymous accounts that violate my personal life and right to privacy.
I’ve had the owner of an online social work website make up fake news stories about me because I didn’t want to go into business with him.
I’ve had an independent social worker share content linked to accounts that reveal my name and details about things I did in 2005, well before I even thought about becoming a social worker. A total violation of my right to a private life.
I’ve had three social work academics subject me to daily abuse and harassment online for months on end.
I’ve had a service user publicly state that they are going to murder me and claim diminished responsibility in order to get a reduced prison sentence.
Why do they do this?
The BASW patron never gave me a reason, only that it wasn’t their style to get involved in arguments. I raised the issue with BASW but never got a proper response to the conclusion of their promised investigation into the matter.
The partner of the BASW committee member told me that she was jealous of the platform I have, perhaps that was his real reason for the boycott.
The Chief Social Worker blocked me online when I tried to raise issues about using such a powerful position to hurt a frontline social worker.
The head of department never gave me a reason for why she felt that I needed to be barred from her campus, only that she was able to make this decision on behalf of all her students as she was ‘the new head of department’.
I called the social work publisher to ask them why they feel it’s acceptable for a business to act like they have towards an individual social worker. Their response was that I was ‘harassing’ them by asking this question and that they wouldn’t be giving any further comment.
The owner of the online social work website has now moved on to accusing me of stealing his business idea, as if he was the pioneer of putting job boards online.
I emailed the independent social worker asking why she felt her actions were acceptable. Her response to me included the following statement: “you rather violated your own rights to a private and family life through your relentless self-promotion and meteoric engagement with the media as a young man”. The ‘young man’ she refers to was myself when I was 21 years old, over 12 years ago now.
Neither the social work academics nor their departments have come back to me with a justification as to why constant online harassment of me is acceptable or justified.
The death threats remain on record.
In all of this, not one of these people has ever shown any compassion or empathy for how their attacks make me feel. The best I’ve gotten is one of them telling me I had a mental health issue (as if it was unnatural for me to feel sad about the way they were treating me) and another telling me that I should get professional help because her violations of my private and family life upset me.
What is the impact of all of this?
In one of the pockets of my work bag there is an envelope. Inside that envelope are two letters. One is a letter of resignation. The other is a letter to the HCPC asking to be removed from their professional register.
I’ve never had any disciplinary action regarding my work. My practise has never been called into question by any of my employers. My references are great. I regularly receive positive feedback from service users and fellow professionals.
But those two letters remain in my bag.
The reason they are there is because I fear that one day the online abuse will become too much to bear and I’ll have to walk away from it all.
Someone will go too far and post pictures of my family online. Someone will turn up at my home and threaten me. Someone will hurt my wife or daughter.
The threats, the violation of my privacy, the lies, the defamation, the harassment, the targeting of my family… one day I worry it will get too much and I’ll have to leave it all behind.
I’ll go back to the building sites, bars and factories that used to keep a roof over my head, and hope that somebody else will take over from what I’ve started.
If the Social Work Tutor goes forever, you need to know that these people won. They beat me. I wasn’t strong enough to cope.
But until that day comes, and I hope it never does, I’ll be here.
Still trying to make you laugh after a difficult day at work.
Still writing about things that you can relate to.
Still representing for my social workers all across the world.
Still trying to make this job better for us all.