This 2023, on the third Tuesday of March, World Social Work Day takes place. This recurrence is dedicated to all those who made it their mission to support those in harsher situations.

Social workers make a difference in several fields: mental and healthcare, community, education and family, politics, and environment.

“Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversity are central to social work. […]” as explained by the International Federation of Social Workers or IFSW.

World Social Work Day theme for 2023

This year’s theme is an extension of the People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World. This “living document” includes and describes those values expressed with the actions of the world’s population. Actions that aim to create a safe, peaceful and sustainable world.

More specifically, the theme for 2023 points us to focus on what we can do to respect diversity through joint social action. 

What does this mean? To understand and recognize that all humans are equal by virtue of their status as humans. And that our differences are something to celebrate and useful tools to build a more understanding and fair future.

The power of community-led social change

a doormat reading come as you are for world social work day
A doormat reading “Come as you are ” and two feet standing just next to it. 
Image by @jontyson on Unsplash

The role of those who choose a profession in the social work sphere is undeniably essential to establish a balance in the system. And you can decide too to embark on such a life-approving and meaningful career.

People, luckily, can trigger a social change in plenty of ways and resort to diverse approaches. 

This means you do not have to be a social worker to create a social impact

Community-led projects and organisations also play a fundamental role in bettering the situation of less empowered individuals. Thanks to volunteering programs, the opportunities to take action are countless, and many more every day dedicate some of their time to socially impactful goals.

SPEAK also saw the light because of an evident unbalance against the migrants reaching Portugal. The language barrier for those who arrived in the country would slow or even block administrative processes as well as social ones. Blending in the new society would become a problematic task and a bridge was needed to connect locals and newcomers.

A very simple idea, though, turned the tables and leveraged those differences to build social awareness first, respect and bonds after.

An idea that reached outside of the Portuguese borders and is now present in 23 cities around the world.  

How you too can participate in social change with SPEAK 

SPEAK's logo

Imagine you could have the whole world sitting around a table and have the opportunity not only to ask all about where these people come from but to also tell them your own story.

The SPEAK experience is exactly that. By being a buddy, you will be able to lead 12 sessions where participants from all other the world join you in a culture and language exchange experience.

Online or in person, you can share your language with the rest of your group, laugh about some of the most unusual traditions and amaze yourself with how similar we intrinsically are. 

At the end of the experience, you will have empowered someone else with something much deeper than the new knowledge of a language. 

Social integration does not happen overnight and at times the chances of exposing oneself to social opportunities are few or challenging.

Gathering in such safe spaces helps migrants boost their confidence and create bonds and relationships that will grow thanks also to the language factor.

Once you feel part of a network, anything coming your way does not seem as scary and it sets an example for the future also.

Hear from our SPEAKers.

If you are considering knowing more about SPEAK’s mission, being a buddy, or possibly taking SPEAK to your own city, getting to know some SPEAKers’ experiences might be beneficial.

Noran’s philosophy is kind of a big-bang-ish one and space and time are two fundamental details in her story. Living between the U.K. and Egypt, she was no stranger to cultural awareness and blending. 

Through SPEAK, she got the means to use her skills and language to connect with her group’s participants, empower them and learn from their life stories in return.

“When I found SPEAK on the university career zone which is a huge platform for everyone who wants to make an impact. [A platform] that connects people from different backgrounds and cultures, so it is a chance to gain different life experience, enlarge your knowledge and discover something new about yourself”. 

“A good song and a buddy is all you need” is how Franze sums up his own adventure of helping a group of Ukrainians to integrate into Portugal

He joined the SPEAK for Ukraine project, led language groups and shared his native Portuguese, and created meaningful connections with his participants.

“We build more empathy. We learned the importance of respecting and growing with differences, furthermore, there are many other aspects to mention like, active listening, interculturality, global citizenship and volunteering. Being a buddy has been amazing. Many thanks to everyone who is part of SPEAK”

Be what it may, engage in social change now

World Social Work Day 2023 should serve as a reminder of those who committed their professional path to help the less fortunate. Also, it should help raise the awareness that change IS possible and everyone can be a part of it.

Whatever your choice will be, remember to act respectfully of other people’s stories, be careful of their feelings, be aware of their perspective, and be fond of their uniqueness.

Author: Valentina Rampazzo

Valentina is a polyglot and a culture deep diver. She has lived in 5 countries across Europe and has most recently joined SPEAK as a Copywriter Intern. Her passions are her plants, plant-based cooking and writing.

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