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Tuesday Transformation - Sharon-Rose Gittens

Senior Welfare Officer (Acting), The Welfare Department

Who is Sharon -Rose Gittens?

I am a hardworking and dedicated July born, with a unique first name living my purpose driven life, guided by a personal philosophy that who I am, is God’s gift to me and who I make of myself is my gift to God. I am a very generous spirit who loves to see persons happy, smiling and sharing at home, at church, at work and public spaces I am not afraid to face obstacles because it challenges my right brain to find suitable solutions and be patient.

What does a typical day for you entail?

“I send out Praises yea”

A typical day for me always begins with a moment of sharing and listening to God with an understanding that the work I am about to do is an example of him in my life as my work plans can change at any moment and I need to be ready for it.

What is my work plan? It depends on the month. As an example, if I am on administrative duties my day involves making sure the sectional staff receives a morning treat and clients coming to the Department are welcomed. They are told the key safety procedures to follow at the office prior to their social work interview. I also seek to ensure the staff is available and ready to conduct their interviews and when we have limited staff, to find a healthy balance between the needs of clients visiting the office and staff needs without compromising the organizational vision and goals.

I have established a day for each zones’ case filing and feedback so I move to my work station by 9:30 am to complete the case files of the allocated zone for the day. Except for the day being allocated to me where I select whatever management task I need to do for the department. By the time afternoon approaches at the office I would have completed a few staff check-ins to gauge how staff members are coping and their readiness to go lunch and those on lunch relief are ready to start.

I enjoy my job. I am often the last to leave the office although I am the usually the first in by 7:30am, a practice I am working to change in 2020. In the evenings I review my IN Bin and add to my OUT Bin for the following day’s folder “Done in 24 Hours”. This ideal structure at times will often vary due to a difficult client, telephone calls, referrals and unexpected requests. At the end of the work day I will take a moment to reflect over one thing that made me smile for the day or something I could have done differently for a better outcome and say to God “Thank You”

What keeps you motivated?

I am a self-motivator because of the grace of God in me and the knowledge that Jesus Christ was our First social worker. I am therefore still a work in progress with some thorns…..

Which demographic do you believe requires a greater need for Social Workers?

They are the usual demographics that requires social workers’ intervention. However, being aware of the social impact of climate change, youth violence and non-communicable diseases and diversity, I do believe the impact of natural disasters through the years continues to impact on the individual’s ability to truly cope with life.

The demographic I would like to embrace therefore are the untapped, often unrecognized victims of natural disasters. It has been 22 years since the Volcano in Monsterrat, four (4) months since Hurricane Dorian, two (2) years since Hurricane Maria…..and how many years since Hurricane Janet, yet individuals’ still expresses feelings of hopelessness and are guarded in their choices.

Another demographic of some significance are the children who have lost a grandparent, a sibling or a parent to death, imprisonment, emigration or simply absenteeism. Thinking globally, nationals who have been deported to a country where they left as children would need significant help readjusting to this foreign environments and its services to avoid imprisonment or any illegal acts for survival.

In essence the greater need for social workers lie significantly in Change Management for survivors of trauma with formation of support groups.

Do you believe there is room for advancement for Social Work in Barbados?

Most definitely, especially in the area of Ethical social work, Trauma Management of Social Work and Social Work outside the traditional areas.

Those who know of the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers advocacy since 2017, the room is the placement of social workers in schools. It is out these school environments many received First Class, Second Class or Pass their first degrees in Social Work, yet it continues to be some significant obstacles preventing the implementation of them. Many critical voices have made the call….over the years, yet today we have recorded the death of a school boy while at school, teachers who have been threatened, parents who have approached the school violently.

In your opinion, does the social work fraternity in Barbados adopt a radical approach to advocacy?

Under my tenure Social work fraternity has not adopted a radical approach to advocacy, as this approach is usually done by our unions. If it is done, the position would cripple our safety nets which would open the flood gates to further crime, violence and illegal acts which would impact on Barbados' current economic position.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing a career in Social Work?

Got for it and pursue it with an understanding that you need to look beyond Barbados and the traditional areas for employment. Be prepared to receive plenty bonuses of thank you’s from those you are empowering as well as plenty more complaints. Be ready for days that will go totally different from what you may have planned. Be aware the working environment always changes and you must engage in moments of self-care to survive. Be open to ask questions to your workmates at all levels and share ideas. Be an ethical social worker with authenticity, passion and respectfulness knowing that what is done in practice may not reflect all that was taught in theory…Take time to join the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers (BAPSW) it is here you would meet and interact with the true diversity of social workers.

What is one common myth about the Social Work profession that you would like to clarify?

Everyone who helps is a social worker and should not be called a social worker. Social Worker is a profession with 3/4 years of intense and rewarding study at University Level made up of level 1, 2 and 3 courses, a field placement and guided by a Code of Ethical Behaviour.

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