Today, right now, we are living in a scenario that we didn’t exactly expect to be living in.
Though in truth – in social work, we have long known and worked in…a world that was precarious. We have long known how vulnerable too many people, families, and institutions are. And in good faith, we’ve done our best to make things better as best we could. Now we enter a new chapter. And our social work capacity will grow and change in ways we can’t yet predict.
Foresight/futures leaders along with legions of disaster preparedness communities have been urging new kinds of thinking, new kinds of applied imagination and a new kind of responsibility to each other to prepare. Our future looks very scary today. By all reports, Covid-19 is about to be a powerful, global teacher.
Now is a time to embrace and consider futures thinking with a rigor that will feel new for many in our profession – but it exactly the skills of foresight (for example – considering the role of history in revealing patterns we are part of, building scenarios that reflect multiple pathways and the various courses of action we might take, building community to read and understand signals amid what may feel like chaos, and finding some clarity despite volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) that help us navigate what is ahead. As social workers, I would add that we do all of this in a way that is conscious of equity, acknowledges the most vulnerable in our society, the human side of crisis, crisis response and recovery for whatever happens next.
We have no time to waste. Let’s dive in. Let’s bring all the knowledge and heart we’ve got to help our communities prepare, engage and acknowledge each other to move through and then heal from whatever covid-19 brings.
Social work is a profession that has a deep history and reservoir of knowledge, values and skills concerning human behavior and systems thinking. We can contribute so much to what is happening – but we owe it to ourselves and each other to commit to learning and in many cases, navigating new spaces, new challenges, new tools, opportunities and threats. For years I have told my students (as a social work professor) that even with all the good tools we provide in the social work education process, in their lifetimes, new challenges would emerge that we can’t yet see or predict. No matter how “prepared” we might think we are…we will learn AS WE WORK…with our ethics and principles leading the way. But also with courage and creativity to meet emergent challenges. I have never been more proud to be a social worker…and I am sure we can evolve to meet whatever comes.
This week, I started a hashtag on Twitter – #SWcovid19 to provide a place in that space for social workers around the world to gather, ask questions, tell stories, share information and credible news, and CONNECT on this emerging global challenge. If you haven’t popped in there yet – please do. Let’s continue to build community.
Further, I’ve been gathering up selected resources that I think will be of interest to social workers directly related to vulnerable populations we stand with and settings where social workers work as well issues (like human rights) that we are interested in/committed to. Link here! This will be an evolving list of resources as this is a rapidly changing situation. It is not intended to be a comprehensive lit review – just a real time capture of things I’ve been seeing go by that I think social workers will be interested in.