Dr Paula McFadden of Ulster University in Northern Ireland and colleagues have received the European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA) award for their outstanding publication on their investigation into social workers’ wellbeing and attitudes to early retirement in the United Kingdom.
Dr McFadden is a core member of the IFSW convened group, led by Professor Jermaine Ravalier (Bath Spa University), researching the impact of the working environment on social workers.
The award-winning research was based on a survey of over 1,300 social workers across the UK. The study findings showed high demand for increased work flexibility and observed that many social workers may retire early if provisions aren’t put in place to offer more support in the workplace.
Dr McFadden accepted the Award on behalf of herself and co-authors at the Opening Ceremony of the virtual ESWRA Conference, hosted by the University of Bucharest, Romania on 4th May 2021. Presenting the Award to Dr McFadden, ESWRA Chair Professor Judith Metz commented:
‘The Awards panel received a total of 24 nominations for this award, and unanimously agreed that the publication …. constitutes a relevant piece of research in social work, focusing on a very interesting topic for social work practitioners, educators, researchers and policy makers.’
Dr McFadden said:
Our contacts ‘pointed us to a real need to better understand the phenomenon of growing old in high-demand, high-stress professions. What we produced is an example of low cost, high impact research using those very networks to access individuals in a range of service contexts. …. We hope this review will be a model for the other UK nations to plan for shifting demographics in the workforce and the population at large.’
Chair of the IFSW project group, David N Jones, commented:
‘IFSW is working with Paula McFadden and Jermaine Ravalier on a ground-breaking global study of the working environment for social workers. The initial findings confirm what social workers have been saying for many years – that salaries do not reflect the complexity and challenges we face when compared to other professions and that in many places in the world, the working environments are poor and damage the wellbeing of social workers. The global report on the pilot study will be available later this year.
For more information on the IFSW working environment research, visit https://www.ifsw.org/ifsw-calls-on-social-workers-to-participate-in-worldwide-research-on-the-working-environment-of-social-workers/