Social work is a practice-based career and field of study that fosters social change, development, cohesiveness, and empowerment. A social worker works with people’s heritage to help them manage their daily lives with respect and dignity.
Understanding human growth, behaviour, social, economic, cultural structures, and relationships are part of social work practice. Community development is the core component of social work. It concentrates on increasing the literacy rate, creating and generating employment opportunities, poverty eradication, and eradicating acute hunger, gender equality and welfare of the vulnerable sections of the society by adopting social work methods.
Social work in Mauritius
In Mauritius, the work of a social worker has been widespread and has impacted various sectors of the economy. They can be found in multiple organisations such as mental health centres, the educational sector, health sector, and they can even be found in public and private sectors. So, pursuing a career in social work in Mauritius might become the new normal in the few years to come. Many universities are now offering and promoting this course, either full-time or even part-time. The importance of social work is indulging various sectors and is becoming a spectrum where opportunities are vast.
Social services and social workers have an essential role in helping people improve their quality of life by creating awareness and sustaining the community by creating employment opportunities through their effort. Social entrepreneurship is the new normal in Mauritius. It aligns with the Government’s vision to promote a paradigm shift in the NGO Sector for sustainability, autonomy, and effective service delivery to vulnerable groups. Social entrepreneurship offers an exciting new opportunity to stimulate economic growth and encourage independence while solving social issues.
There are many non-governmental organisations in Mauritius, like YUVA Mauritius (led by Krishna Athal, Executive Director), SOS Children’s Villages Mauritius and Kinouete, which are professionalising social work and massively recruiting qualified social workers.
Glorine Maloupe, a well-known young social worker, has led various campaigns against poverty on social media. She is a strong advocate for poverty alleviation and youth unemployment. With her blog Youth Ambassadors, she strives to promote young talent and give young people a platform to express their feelings.
Another well-known social work service is Maison Familiale Rurale (MFR), run by Jyotee, born for social work. Her journey from an intern to a manager is very inspiring. MFR exists in various countries around the world. The organisation helps youngsters aged 16 to 17 who have difficulties learning and finding a job. Usually, the youngsters spend one week at school and one week in work placement. They try their best to help the youngsters become responsible citizens.
Difficulties faced by a social worker
Social work is at a challenging moment in its professional history. As the twenty-first century unfolds, social work educators and practitioners are facing a range of perennial questions:
Burnout, also known as chronic work stress or compassion fatigue, occurs when social workers devote so much time and energy to caring for their clients that they neglect their health. It can take the form of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced personal accomplishment. As such, social work practitioners experiencing burnout can be less attuned and less sensitive to themselves and others.
With growing economic challenges and daunting challenges, a rigorous challenge that social workers face is the lack of finance to indulge in their social activities. Although NGOs can get the finance through the National Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme, this might not be enough. So new ways should be implemented, and why not go for crowdfunding, blockchain and even artificial intelligence in social work.
Not enough recognition
It is noticed that although social work is taking its place in society, many people do not recognise its value. Social work does not have the place it deserves in the community, so an economy cannot be considered advanced if social workers do not have a place they deserve in the economy.
With Covid 19, the work of a social worker has been entangled with new dimensions, whereby they encountered various challenges. During the lockdowns, the most vulnerable group were those with low income, mental health issues, and even those homeless; thus, this put pressure on social workers. With the various restrictions, social workers could not carry out their task face to face where before they had a better interaction with their different vulnerable groups. Technology became an essential tool for social workers in Mauritius, but still, many people do not have access to technologies, so what about them? Maybe social work has failed to address these new challenges, but the future will tell us.
Weight of salary of social worker
According to a survey in Mauritius by Survey Explorer, the average salary of a social worker in Mauritius is around Rs 14100. According to the Report, “A person working as a Social Worker in Mauritius typically earns around 14,100 MUR per month. Salaries range from 6,610 MUR (lowest) to 22,200 MUR (highest). This is the average monthly salary, including housing, transport, and other benefits. Social Worker salaries vary drastically based on experience, skills, gender, or location. Below you will find a detailed breakdown based on many different criteria.”
Pursuing a career in social work
When you ask a social worker why they became a social worker, the most common response is “I want to assist others.” Many of us selected social work because it gives us a nice feeling to help others. Other causes, based on our skills, abilities, and interests, exist. Some people picked this job because they have good problem-solving skills. Others chose the profession because of exceptional analytical skills. Others choose social work because of their communication skills, both verbal and written. Working in social services is a rewarding yet emotionally draining profession. Professionals enter challenging work environments to assist people facing complex challenges, and they frequently find themselves helping with crises, such as mental health or abuse emergencies.
Many people enter the area of social work for precisely these reasons: finding many job opportunities, the path of social work is versatile, social work leads to self-improvement, social workers change the life of other people and even change the world.
To conclude, social work is a profession that works to better society. It promotes wellbeing by empowering clients, families, or groups. They recognise the complexity of interaction and influence on human beings and their environment. On a final note, social work is a challenging yet rewarding career.
Nidhi Ramjit, YUVA Intern, BSc (Hons) Social Work Practice at University of Mauritius