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World Social Work Day: What does it mean to you?

World Social Work Day: What does it mean to you?

Jessica Castillo, Senior Lecturer & Practice Lead, London Borough of Hackney

It is that time of the year when social workers, professionals in health and social care, and supporters from all over the world celebrate and promote the positive outcomes and contributions of the social work profession to individuals, families, communities and wider society.

World Social Work Day (WSWD) was established in 1983 by The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and is celebrated on every third Tuesday in March. Since 2012, themes have been introduced each year in line with the goals of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, and these are:

  • 2012-2014: Promoting Social and Economic Equality
  • 2015-2016: Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples
  • 2017-2018: Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability
  • 2019-2020: Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships

This year WSWD falls on Tuesday 19 March and highlights, ‘Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships’. Social relationships lie at the very heart of everything we are and what we do; people are bound by social relationships which in turn drive one’s sense of wellbeing, health 
and security in life.

For me, World Social Work Day is to remember the responsibility and commitment, we as social workers have made, to supporting and promoting the rights of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. We have asked social work practitioners and academic staff from across our Teaching Partnership what celebrating World Social Work Day means to them:

“It means celebrating being part of a profession which focuses on supporting positive change and is committed to human rights; I am proud to be a social worker.”

Dr Lucille Allain, Director of Programmes (Social Work),
Middlesex University

” It is great to be part of a global profession that puts human relationships at the centre of everything we do; that allows us to use relationship based practice and channel our individual and team skills, knowledge and capabilities to better the lives of those facing adversity”


“The theme this year is a reminder for me that Social Work is about people. Where possible, put the forms away and take some time to be curious, ask questions and actively listen to what service users tell you.”

Middlesex University

“I think that its great that in a climate where our profession is often seen through a political lens and on a local level, we are reminded of social work in a global context; there are many societies across the world where social work does not exist. World Social Work day shines a light on the achievements and tireless work of social workers across the world to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people and gives us an opportunity to observe and honour the amazing work we all do. I think that it is particularly apt that this year’s celebrations seek to highlight the importance of human relationships; it saddens me to read the concerns about mental health (particularly self-harm, depression and PTSD) amongst young people in the UK. Though it is great to take stock of the resilience and strength within our profession I cannot help but think about wider, structural difficulties we face in terms of the rhetoric of austerity which exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and the impact our abilities to ensure that the life changing, high quality services we all want to deliver can reach each and every person in need.  .”

social worker,

How to get involved

We would love to know what celebrating social work day means to you – all you have to do is to reply to our post on Twitter and Facebook. Or, you can post your comment on our blog below.

If you are going to tweet about World Social Work Day, please remember to use the official hashtag #WSWD2019.

From all of us at the North London Social Work Teaching Partnership, we would like to wish social workers and health and social care professionals everywhere, a Happy World Social Work Day and congratulate you for your dedication and for the invaluable contribution you make to society every day.

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