Shiny Happy People

Yesterday (4th October), the NESWA team attended a Regional Children’s Social Work Conference. An event organised in coordination between all twelve Local Authorities in the region (also twelve of the partners within NESWA), the event was designed to showcase the good practice in Children’s Social Work in the North East as well as provide the opportunity for social workers to network.

As part of the opening comments, a guest speaker from “The Art of Brilliance” delivered a 45 minute dive into happiness and the affect one persons mood can have upon everyone else. The key message was being positive in yourself allows you to be positive with others. It is certainly a theme that we hear often, and I like to think that no-one truly wakes up on a morning with the sole intention of being totally miserable…hopefully.

Unfortunately, we hear even more regularly how nobody has the time, everyone is stressed and can’t cope, particularly in the context of Social Work. It’s tough and since I started working with NESWA, I have found a new level of respect for social workers at all levels, particularly those that are newly qualified as they try to find their way in a very complex and, at times, relentless profession.

However, I think it is not beyond the realms of possibility that even the most stressed out social worker can find something positive to focus upon. Whether it be signing off a case or hearing the progress of a service user that they assisted. Perhaps even on a more¬†personal level, seeing family on an evening, doing exercise and achieving a personal goal…there is always something to be positive about.

My mam always said that as bad as it may seem, it could be worse…you’re not in a war zone! You’re not getting shot at! (life can feel that way sometimes but she is right…as mam’s usually are)

The discussion made me think about my own happiness and brought me straight back to the conference itself, which was held at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, Home to Sunderland AFC. For the record, I am Sunderland fan and have been since going to the stadium aged 6 on a wet Tuesday night to watch those Red & Whites play out a gloriously dire 0-0 draw. Ironically, in the life of a Sunderland fan, very few times have I left the ground happier than when I went in, if recent memory serves! And yet….

Yesterday, I got to walk in through the player’s entrance, I got to go into a corporate suite where ex-players congregate on match days, I got to look at some wonderful images adorning the walls showing the rich history of the club and the individuals who have shaped it. It was a reminder that this club, like every other club for that matter, is really the sum of it’s parts and is a unique human story of the area. I was filled with happiness at being able to sneak out a side door into the main stadium, seeing the main West Stand where I have sat with friends and family, cheering and berating in equal measure! I could even pick out the exact seat I was sat in when we scored an injury time winner on the opening day of this season and the electric feeling it generated, even whilst now stood in deafening silence.

The point I am trying to make is this…find something that makes you happy, whether it is a memory or a place, a person or a personal item and keep it close. Think about it at least once a day to help build some positivity for you and others. We know it’s tough out there in the big, bad world but we’re all in this together. That’s what Partnership work is all about?

I am reminded of a talk I attended with NESWA at the National Teaching Partnership Conference earlier this year in Nottingham. Mark Doel gave a speech about his project www.socialworkin40objects.com It was fascinating to see the variety of items chosen and the stories behind them. If you get chance, maybe take a look and get inspired to pick your own object.

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