Friends we are in a crisis. Social Work education taught us to respond to crisis situations at individual, group and community level. We are also taught and trained to take action in collaboration with the local communities, Government and the other stakeholders and players. Although we specialize in various forms to work with rural, tribal and urban communities, women and child, correctional administration, medical and psychiatric social work, industrial relations and personnel management, etc., the common thread that binds us all is the first lesson that we learnt ‘helping people help themselves’. To realise this all of us are in the field with NGOs, Government, private sector and also in national & international agencies while applying our professional skills at various levels – field intervention, training and capacity building, advocacy, lobbying, research, publication, management, administration, policy formulation, etc.
We have been responding to address various issues effectively – social, health & psychological, Natural disasters, man-made havocs, environmental, particularly from the rights perspective and of course keeping in mind the service element too.
Today CORONAVIRUS or Covid-19 has challenged us all. It is more than just a health issue. It is not only a psycho-somatic question. But has put the whole human kind and its hundreds of livelihood activities to a grinding halt. What we have seen and read about the developments internationally and the current lockdown in India seems to be just the beginning of a bigger phase to withstand and face. The medical fraternity and the Government machinery are putting up a brave fight and are asking the larger community to cooperate. We are also witnessing how the police, the face of law enforcement of the state is tightening their iron fist and soon it may be seen as a human rights issue. Governments at both central and state level are seen progressively bringing out some packages and relief measures to alleviate the perceived problems. There are both criticisms and appreciations, while a few calling it too late and too little and others asking what more can be done.
Well, what can we Professional Social Workers do in this situation? What can teachers of Social Work do and what should the students of Social Work be doing?
Some of us in the development field are making efforts in communicating with the Govt., to make arrangements for shelter, food and medical care for the destitute, homeless, orphans and daily wage earners in urban and rural areas. We are also making attempts to get in touch with local organisations and philanthropists to provide assistance. Hundreds of individuals, local groups are springing up to respond to the need and also to assist the Govt.
Again, the question is what we social workers in various sectors should be doing and what kind of professional interventions can be taken up by people at various levels in the time of CoronoVirus? Are we well equipped to communicate to the various publics, communities about the coronavirus – the infections, precautions, safeguards, medical care and treatment? Do we know the methods and means to handle the current situation? Are we ready to take up the post hazard counselling and rehab methods? Are we in a position to take up current and future challenges of psycho social counselling? What kind of assistance can be provided to the old, people with disabilities and migrants? What kind of ethical issues that we should be careful about? Etc.
Along with this we can imagine the kind of economic distress the pandemic has created. Due to lockdown of production units and service sector, lakhs and lakhs of people have no jobs, particularly those who are on day to day earning and may be on time bound assignments. Professionals in the field of IRPM must be struggling to find the way out for this with their management. The welfare of the employees is primary.
Kindly give your suggestions, opinions, ideas, etc., as to what we Professional Social Workers as individuals and Associations be doing.
Vasudeva Sharma N.V.
KAPSW-Karnataka Association of Professional Social Workers
Major R D Bhargava
3/30/2020 10:07:23 pm
I appreciate and welcome the initiative and offer to conduct webinars to spread positivity and help people overcome stress, anxiety, restlessness and overcome the fear of uncertainty arising from this pandemic. Best wishes
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