Let me get straight to the point: I wish we could go back in time. When I started as a Social Worker [30 years ago] the only thing that mattered was helping people in need. No matter what costs. We could fully focus on our passion. I loved it!

But times have changed. Nowadays we focus on money. Low salaries, budgets that are cut down, huge workloads because there’s no money to expand the team. This reality is painful. We can run away from it but to be honest: that’s not my style.

I rather try to move along. Be cooperative. Be creative. Be innovative.

 

Not every Social Worker chooses this path. Recently I met some real diehards. I was involved in a very intense conversation on Twitter. Social Workers were accusing each other for neoliberalism, managerialism, conservatism, entrepreneurialism and some more -isms. They blamed me for being a speaker at a seminar in London called “The Business of Social Work, make money from your qualification”. It was kind of scary. I don’t mind to have a good conversation but the most scary part was the incredible resentment. Diehards who only hear what they want to hear, and see what they want to see. You know what I mean …

I’m clear in my vision. I have a strong message too. But always with respect and open to new insights. This has brought many good things my way.

 

I do not have all the answers. What helps me to be open is a strong focus on my purpose. I’m not afraid to be innovative as a Social Worker. I’m not afraid to experiment as a Social Worker. I’m not afraid to be an entrepreneur as a Social Worker. When I have doubts I use my purpose as a kind of measure: is this for the benefit of people in need? And ofcourse I know my ethical code: is this aligned with our code of ethics?

This is what I know for sure: since I started my business my impact has increased beyond my dreams <3

 

What I also notice is that things have become kind of fluid. The field of social work is not as clear anymore as it was before. Competition is all over. All kind of other social enterprises enter the marketplace and take over some of the work that was traditionally ours. We let this happen. They jump in the holes we do not pick up ourselves. They take the chances we ignore. You can feel this as a hostile takeover but I’d rather see the opportunities.

I’ve found in the last couple of years wonderful friends and business partners who encourage me and help me to do good.

 

Our world is no longer black or white. No longer profit or non profit. No longer social or commercial. Our new reality is fluid. This gives us the chance to move forward. To explore new opportunities. Now I’m curious: what is your opinion? Do you move along? What roadblocks do you experience? What successes do you celebrate? Please join the conversation below 🔽 🔽 🔽

 

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Showing 4 comments
  • Alix
    Reply

    Anneke, so beautifully said! Yes, businesses are certainly taking over our work and there are many opportunities that we could take, although it involves risk. I have never been a die hard and burned out from traditional SW easily and often. I’ve always appreciated a systems perspective and the system does not serve me, and often times my clients, well. One can still serve those most in need and many others while making a larger income in a way that nourishes you instead of depletes you.

    • Anneke
      Reply

      That’s the spirit Alixandra! Thank you for sharing x

  • Lolita Boykin
    Reply

    Thanks Anneke for sharing this article. The world has changed and social workers need to look for ways to increase their income to sustain themselves now and in retirement. If we are unwilling to adapt and be at the forefront of change we will become obsolete and irrelevant as a profession.

    • Anneke
      Reply

      You’re so right Lolita! And this is something we do not want. We have to do everything that’s within our reach to stay relevant! Thank you for your comment.

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