Social Work in the UK is considered to be on par and in collaboration with Education and Nursing. In the US, this is different. I know this because my mother is a Social Worker in the US for a company called Pressley Ridge. She is the project director for the residential placements for those with intellectual disabilities, emotional disabilities, physical disabilities, and behavioral issues. Social work was something I was originally looking into as a career path. However, in order to start being paid well in social work, you need your doctorate. My mother, having experienced the struggle with a masters degree, and my teachers heavily discouraged me from entering the field. So sadly, social work is something I must be an advocate for without participating in the field.
Today, we started off our day at the Ladywood Family Centre of West Smethwick Enterprise. They are a charity focused on providing early youth services throughout the greater area of West Smethwick. Their mission is to help areas develop more community caring, confidence, and capabilities. They highlight that the early years are the most integral in shaping a child’s educational and lifestyle future. They noted that the services change and adjust as the needs of the community changes and shifts. They talk about the statistics regarding the areas in which their services are utilized, and the areas are deprived areas, minority ethnic groups, and worse child poverty rates. We also saw statistics that showed fifty-three percent of their children’s first language is not English. This resonated with my area of study for this trip because I am studying the comparisons of EAL and ELL students within our respective countries. Based on our visit to the Ladywood Family Centre, the provisions made for the diverse populations are much more equitable than those in the states. When I spoke to Laura and Rashid, the leads at the center, they described the diverse staff that the center has that accommodates all the children and their families. They focus on supporting the entire family rather than only giving aid to the student themself. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of their program was the collective effort their community shows. Laura explained to me that parents of EAL students who are further alond their EAL learning will assist in translating for newer families, and I find this to be wonderful. Living in an individualistic society, community aid isn’t heard of unless there is some underlying hidden agenda or gain that an individual can get. One doesn’t grow a community garden because it is sustainable and it helps out the neighbors, they do it because it’s cheaper and takes less time than having to grow so many different plants by oneself. We also got a tour of the space and heard that BCU students were potentially going to take up the space above the children’s center in order to use them as teaching facilities and give the students access to placements. I also found this to be incredible, as I believe that experience is the best way to learn. The community involvement and the importance of their contributions to the community they work for is impressive and extensive.
The second portion of our lessons for today was an in person lecture by Sally Parker, Sally Andrews, and Birgit Forster. One of the first things that Sally, an expert by experience, gave insight to was her personal experience as a mother of disabled children and as a nurse. It was incredibly impactful to hear her describe the care she has put into fighting for her children. Having grown up around my mothers profession, I’ve seen an amount of parents give up on their children or even deny their children’s diagnoses out of fear of not having a neurotypical child. Personal friends and family, even though they know of my mothers profession, have severely denied the disabilities of their children out of fear or ignorance. I also enjoyed the poem that was shared with us during this lecture, called “Welcome to Holland.” I truly believe that there are few (if any at all) experiences in life that mirror those of severe disability diagnoses. But I would also like to voice an important view on the topic of disability. It is not the person that is disabled, it is the world that is disabling. We go through life making assumptions that everyone has our experiences and our capabilities. As future educators and as future nurses, we need to be advocated for breaking down the barriers that cripple individuals with disabilities, because the world is not an inherently exclusive place. We simply make it one.