By Lakhram Bhagirat

Social workers are important in creating balance in society. They are the ones who, directly, address the social impacts and make sure we have a listening ear. They are the ones who understand our situation and oftentimes lead to solutions.
However, being a social worker is not without challenge. Social workers are painted oftentimes as the bad guy and overworked when seriously underpaid. It is a situation that is not native to Guyana but occurs worldwide.
Social workers, like teachers, give more than we can compensate.
The need for social workers and the important role they play in maintaining the balance in society is exactly what keeps Samantha Stanwick in practice.
The 24-year-old player holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Guyana and is currently working with the domestic violence survivors in the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Policy Unit of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.
The native of East Berbice was raised by her single mother and had her share of challenges. However, she noted that she grew up sheltered and did not realize until she was a student at St Aloysius Primary School that some of her classmates did not have the “luxury” of having things as basic as books and socks.
“I was somewhat protected from and ignorant of the extent of some problems such as poverty. Of course, growing up, there were a lot of luxuries I wasn’t given because my mother couldn’t afford it, but that was very different to what many others were experiencing, ”she says .
After completing her secondary education at New Amsterdam High School, Stanwick attended the University of Guyana – Berbice Campus during the years 2013-2017, where she read for a diploma and subsequently a degree in Social Work.
During that time, she also spent a short time at the New Amsterdam School of Nursing but did not complete her studies there.
In 2018, she continued her studies at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus in Georgetown where she completed her Masters degree in Social Work and graduated in 2019.
It’s no secret that Guyana faces a host of social problems, many of which are interrelated and after completing high school, Stanwick was still confused and undecided on what the next step should be. Given her age at the time and the many challenges in finding employment, especially in Berbice, getting a job didn’t seem like such an option.
“At this point my mother suggested that I develop my studies in social work. Giving it a lot of thought and consideration, I finally applied and started my journey as a social work student. The first two years of my studies were relevant in sparking my interest in the field. Not only did they help me overcome personal barriers and help me to become who I am today, but it opened up to me the many possibilities and options available through social work. This drove me to continually develop my studies in the field, so that I could not only build my own capacity as a social worker, but also use the opportunities presented to bring about positive change in the lives of others, ”she said .
For her, the journey has been very rewarding, but also very difficult at times. However, each challenge came with its own opportunities to learn, build and grow. Although still largely introverted, social work has helped her become more comfortable out of that zone
“Social work generally teaches us to be flexible, to work with limited resources, to think outside the box and to speak out and advocate for others even when they cannot do it for themselves. These features, while not limited to social work, are highly relevant and useful in daily life.
“Although social work has brought a lot of satisfaction and joy to my life, it has not been without its challenges. Despite the great need for social workers in our country, many qualified people in the field still have a difficult time finding meaningful employment. Many frown on social work studies and are still seen as a last resort for people who did not perform well in high school, ”said Stanwick.
The young social worker said that there is a constant challenge for people not to seek the help of social workers already because of preconceived perceptions, so many times, although help can be offered, many are ashamed to come forward and use it. Also, many social workers suffer from burn out, are overworked and stressed because of the size of what the job entails.
“I chose social work because it brings a sense of satisfaction and joy to my life knowing that I can make a positive impact in the lives of others. Although the job can be stressful at times, there is a satisfying feeling to helping people, which makes the job worthwhile. Social work is never boring as every day brings something new. Social workers are guided by a code of ethics. With this comes many responsibilities. Social workers are required to be confidential, maintain a non-judgmental attitude, manage their emotional involvement in the course of their work, among other things, ”explains Stanwick.
Social workers also practice in many areas and at many levels, working with individuals, families, communities, and even participating in policy making. Social workers also find themselves in many sectors, including health and education. With the many social problems currently being experienced in Guyana, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, high school leavers, teenage pregnancy, suicide, etc., more is needed of social work practitioners working together in a bid to reduce the high rates. of these issues.
“In the near future, I would hope to see more research carried out in Guyana, and more preventative work done to reduce the high rates of these social problems that exist in our country. I would encourage those interested in the social work profession to take that first step to becoming qualified. The great thing about social work education is that, in addition to the theoretical part, it has a practical component. This gives you the opportunity to experience some of what it feels like to be in the profession.
There are many aspects of social work, and a wide range of areas for practice. I would also encourage young people to consider their options and get an idea of ​​which area they would be best suited to. “

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