Reflective Commentary: Professional Development on Working with Asylum Seekers in the UK
The social work profession is founded on respect for all people’s inherent worth, welfare, and dignity irrespective of their ethnic, cultural, or religious background as stipulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNUDHR) in 1948 (UN, 2016). Thus, social work professionals are obligated to essentially work toward promoting individuals’, groups’, and societies’ best interests regarding specific professional standards and capabilities frameworks. This essay is a critical analysis and reflective commentary of my practice and professional development. It will provide an account of my work practice working with foreign individuals seeking asylum in the United Kingdom (UK). It will further assess my social work practices to demonstrate my work performance in relation to the professional capabilities framework and Social Work England (SWE) professional standards, supported by social work theories evidence based research.
Social work is an internationally recognised profession whose members are recognised under various laws. Hence, social workers are required to demonstrate professional commitment by assuming responsibilities to their conduct, practices, self-care and development (SWE, 2020). I uphold high standards of professionalism in my methods, duties, and actions, which has enhanced my accountability. As a result of my passion and dedication to the profession, I go the extra mile of engaging in innovative ways to actively listen and understand the foreigners seeking asylum in the UK to build meaningful relations (BASW, 2018). For instance, most of the people seeking asylum in the UK do not understand or speak English. Thus, we employ ICT technology like Google Translate to improve communication, consequently allowing the organisation to provide customised services to suit the needs of various individuals of differing nationalities.
Diversity and Equality
Recognising human diversity is also essential in promoting equality while implementing informed anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive work principles in social work practices. Human diversity is multi-dimensional, including ethnicity, race, beliefs, and the intersection of such and other aspects (Wormer, 2005). These aspects characterise and shape human experiences, permeating an individual’s identity and perception of the immediate world (Erbaş, 2013). As Karl Marx conflict theory stipulates, an individual’s life experiences potentially entailing oppression, marginalisation, and isolation; or, privilege, power, and acclaim are attributable to existing or perceived differences (Novak, 2021). Therefore, identifying these diversities and disparities is essential in enhancing equality and promoting individual’s and society’s interests.
The fact that the asylum seekers hail from diverse backgrounds present challenges such as language barrier and other diversity issues that impede service delivery. As a social worker, I encourage asylum seekers to enrol in college and learn ESO, improving communication (SWE, 2020). Besides enhancing communication, the social constructionist theory argues that the surrounding cultural contexts influence individuals’ cognitive development (Burr, 20144). In essence, the social construction theory advocates inclusivity and multiculturalism. Indeed, shared meaning and constructed knowledge significantly shape individuals, groups, and communities (Burr, 20144). These enlightenments are a pathway to establishing support and interventions confluent with the cultural needs and perspectives of the impacted individuals, populations and communities.
Values and Ethics
As in any other profession, social workers are obliged to uphold a professional code of ethics in their conduct, practices, and decision-making process. A critical role in my supervisory duties includes leading by example in maintaining work ethics and promoting the same among my subordinates (BASW, 2018). In his social learning theory, Bandura argues that humans learn in the social context, and hence, others’ actions can profoundly influence what we perceive as acceptable behaviour (Gray, 2010). Recognising this rationale, I lead by promoting ethical practices and taking necessary measures when professional’s practices are impaired (SWE 2020). I also encourage and support the subordinates to act ethically and report concerns that potentially compromise the organisation’s code of ethics (BASW, 2018). Besides the staff, I collaborate with other stakeholders to achieve this obligation by promoting human rights and social justice (BASW, 2018). Therefore, I consider it a relevant law and ethical standard for social workers to understand social work value throughout their career.
Intervention and Skills
A significant part of my work responsibilities is to help asylum seekers wishing to remain in the UK apply for housing upon attaining 18 years and subsequently apply for universal credit and travelling documents, among other benefits, upon approval of their rights to remain in the UK. I effectively fulfil this obligation by actively employing judgment, skills, and authority interventions to support and promote these individuals’ independence and economic progress (BASW, 2018). As incorporated in the models and theories of geopolitics, the development theory accentuates that “social investment”, including providing material and social support to vulnerable populations, enhances their wellbeing and development (Gray, 2010). Similarly, the social work humanism theory argues that supporting people in their development can improve relationships, society, and individuals’ objectives (Floyd, 2013). To enhance this development as a supervisor, I spearheaded collaborative programs to engage immediate individuals, families, and communities to support foreign asylum seekers, eventually fostering peaceful integration (SWE, 2020). The humanism theory further states that such models promote the exploration of personal identity, the pursuit of positive social ties, and the flexibility in navigating one’s self and finding purpose in the larger world (Floyd, 2013). Thus, social investments help each asylum seeker to advance as to their respective stage of development.
Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing
Promoting social justice, economic welfare, and advancing human rights’ fundamental principles enshrined in national and international laws, policies, and convections is an essential part of social work. These fundamentals intrinsically underpin my practices, effectively influenced by statutory and case laws and regulations (SWE, 2020). For instance, a part of my duty includes helping asylum seekers who choose to remain in the UK apply for housing only upon achieving 18 years. As a social worker, I understand and endeavours to address the impacts of chronic poverty, oppression, marginalisation and discrimination through my practices (BASW, 2018). Consequently, I have attended Lac review and statutory meetings with various professionals to enhance my knowledge and skills. These are essential in addressing social inequalities and injustices and in promoting human rights and economic progress.
I consider the social work profession’s active promotion and practices by assuming professional learning and others’ development as an indispensable part of my supervisory responsibilities. Social work is a multidisciplinary field, utilising the system theory concepts to recognise that individuals are a part of their environment. Each individual is shaped by a range of interdependent and intricately related systems (Wormer, 2005). Thus, enhancing professional learning and others’ development promotes recognition of the interconnected systems, precisely pinpointing areas of breakdowns (Novak, 2021). Moreover, I develop personal influences and participate in collective leadership to promote social work practices and the resulting impacts (BASW, 2018). I actively supervise and spearhead training programs and engage with professional networks and bodies, including the lac review and other statutory meetings, taking formal management leadership responsibilities and contributing to policies (SWE, 2020). Furthermore, I have taken the initiative to promote an open and creative learning culture in the workplace environment to reflect, discuss, and brainstorm best practices with colleagues.
Working with foreigners seeking asylum in the UK, I recognise the significant contribution of social work in the contemporary world. I possess an uncompromised commitment to assume the responsibilities of promoting human rights and equality, which I have continuously demonstrated in my placement. I focus on carrying my social work duties and responsibilities as per the professional capabilities framework and SWE professional standards and employ evidence research finding to support my decision and actions. Although I have demonstrated and understanding these frameworks and standards, I should continuously enhance my knowledge and skills to suit the ever-changing world. In particular, I should improve my cultural competitiveness in assuming social works, as the wheels of culture permeate individuals’ identity and perception of the environment.