THE DIFFERENCE BETWEE VOLUNTEER, STUDENT SOCIAL WORK AND EMPLOYEE ROLES IN THE ORGANIZATION
According to Makondo and Van Biijon (2002: 84) Volunteer is defined as one who offers himself/herself of his own free will for services without remuneration.
The following are various roles fulfilled by volunteers in the organizations as pointed out by Makondo and Van Biijon (2002:84):
· Policy- making. Volunteers can serve on the board of directors and on committees.
· Direct assistance to clients. This could be at individual, group or community level, it could include counselling, mentoring, case-aides, it could offer crafts, art work, assistance with special groups for the elderly and children, it could identify and communicate with the target people and groups in the community.
· Administrative office assistance. Typing, book-keeping, filing, working on brochures and newsletters, answering phones, assistance with fundraising drives or public relations.
· Direct assistance to staff. This encompasses research, training and computer assistance.
· Outreach to the community. Volunteers could do this by way of marketing as speakers through fundraising.
The volunteer role may range from stuffing envelopes during a fundraising initiative, to providing in-home respite to someone living with a terminal illness, to sitting on an organisation’s management board. Volunteers are often drawn from the organisation’s ‘community’. They may espouse a desire to redress the social problems or fulfil the community needs that are within the organisation’s mandate. This may sometimes emerge from personal experiences. For example, volunteers with the various Alzheimer’s disease societies and associations are frequently carers, ex-carers, partners, relatives and friends of people with dementia. Thus volunteers may often be prized for their community competence: their connection to and knowledge of the communities the organisation provides services to. Depending on their background volunteers may also have considerable professional and management knowledge. However, apart from those on management committees, they may have less opportunity than they wish to implement this knowledge in their volunteering role. Inevitably everyday organisational life revolves around those in paid capacities, and volunteers can sometimes feel unsupported and unacknowledged in their work. Thus volunteers frequently experience tensions around their status, role and level of inclusion in the life and culture of the organisation (Netting et al., 2004). This is often particularly acute when community organisations grow from ‘grass-roots’ organisations (with volunteers often instrumental in setting up the organisation) to funded service providing organisations (where volunteers may have a more marginal role).
Volunteering may be considered as one of the instruments for fulfilling its mission. As Matula notes, “supporting the development of volunteering among people is turning out to be one of the options for solving the social problems of today”. In connection to a definition of social work’s mission we encounter in the most recent scientific literature the concept of social functioning. Despite the fact that social functioning is a term with multiple meanings, the authors mostly use it to refer to interactions that are taking place between the requirements of the environment and people. In this context it is possible to perceive volunteering as a path towards the development of individuals’ potential resulting in support of their social functioning. It presents the intervention of social work in relation to clients who can be the recipients as well as the agents of voluntary activities. At the same time, it is an intervention directed towards the creation of the clients’ living conditions, partly in the sense of improving the quality of social services of organisations, and partly in building an inclusive society. In connection with volunteering in the context of social work, we meet with the theme of the professionalization and de-professionalization of social work. Professionalization is a reflection of the efforts of the professional group to introduce standards, typification and control to its performance. The pursuit of social work de-professionalization should give even laymen open access to social work. Social services provided by friends, family and volunteers, according to proponents of de-professionalization, can lead to more significant results then a specialized approach. In our opinion, the current provision of services by professionals and volunteers may not be in conflict. It does not have to be the option of either/or, i.e. it does not have to present the dilemma of being obliged to choose between two alternatives. The system of voluntary and informal assistance can be provided in compliance with the professional services and their objectives.
Volunteer programmes can be used as a part of the services of social work in different ways. The help of volunteers can be provided concurrently with professional services; however, it may precede or follow professional help. Analysis of the benefits of volunteering and the cooperation of professional social workers with volunteers may be part of a wide range of activities of social work. Partnership with volunteers is an alternative way for social workers to work on development and provision of their services. Social workers need to perceive volunteers as partners who aim to bring in social change. Instead of experts providing services or agents representing large bureaucratic institutions, social workers can work together with volunteers and support them and direct them towards ensuring social and economic justice. Groups of volunteers are springing up in the form of well-coordinated professional teams of experts who are willing and committed to serving those who most need it. They are able to give shape to alternative concepts of public and social policy, and deal with advocacy and lobbying activities. They reveal gaps in social assistance and respond swiftly to societal needs whether on a national, regional or local level. Social work and volunteering are developing in a post-industrial period that is significantly influenced by the modernisation process. These influences in the area of social as well as voluntary work are a subject of interest to experts and reflection about their changes and future. They also influence their mutual relations. Chytil24, in his opinion on the results of modernisation in relation to social work, agrees with Stoesz (1997) who anticipates an end of social work based on the fact that it originated during the period of industrialisation and missed the transition to a post-industrial society. He notes in his conclusion, on the other hand, that social work might perhaps survive if its objectives would be redefined towards the sustainment and development of communities through the community economy. Social work can take advantage of its experience in establishing
Roles for student Social work in an organization are as follows:
As a student social worker, you must protect the rights and promote the interests and wellbeing of service users and carers.
Treating each person as an individual; Treating people with consideration, respect and compassion; Empowering service users and carers to communicate their views, needs and preferences, taking account of their preferred language and form of communication; Respecting and, where appropriate, representing the individual views and wishes of both service users and carers; Supporting service users’ right to control their lives and make informed choices about the services they receive; Gaining consent as appropriate from service users before you provide care or services, in line with your employer’s procedures and any statutory requirements; Explaining your role, the purpose of your involvement and the reasons for any decision you make; Respecting and maintaining the dignity and privacy of service users; Treating service users and carers fairly and promoting equal opportunities; Respecting diversity, beliefs, preferences, cultural differences and challenging discriminatory attitudes or behaviour.
• Respect the rights, dignity and inherent worth of individuals
• Work in a person-centred way
• Treat people respectfully and with compassion
• Support and promote the independence and autonomy of service users
• Act in the best interests of service users and carers
• Uphold and promote equality, diversity and inclusion
• Ensure the care they provide is safe and effective and of a high quality
Employee roles in the organization
Weisseman, Epstein and Savage (1993) pointed out that the following are organisational roles that the Social worker as an employee can execute:
· A diagnostician uses organisational theory in the assessment process to establish the barriers to effective functioning. The worker must, therefore, not only make a diagnosis of the client nut also of the organisation.
· An expediter can get things done for the client in the organisation-mostly through bargaining and ensures that services needed are delivered in good time.
· A case manager plans, coordinates and monitors client services.
· An advocate tries on behalf of the client, to break down barriers and to access services; this is done by trying to initiate changes in the laws and rules so that clients are entitled to a greater number of programmes and services.
· A programme developer uses feedback from clients to initiate, plan and implement new programmes to improve service effectiveness.
· An organisation reformer attempts to change organisational structures, policy, procedures, goals, programmes and processes that prevent service effectiveness.
· A colleague cooperates, understands and values the knowledge, skills, roles and tasks of colleagues and other professionals.
· Supervisor delegates responsibility, provides information to staff, coordinates work with staff from other departments and secures resources to enable workers to do their jobs.
Social work is a profession that is practised within the confines of an organisation and the tasks that social workers carry out are defined by the nature of the organisation. Thus, a social worker employed in a voluntary sector family centre may be engaged in more individual and family counselling work than a social worker in a hospital setting. Similarly, the knowledge that social workers use in their daily work may also vary: the family centre social worker may have specialist knowledge of particular therapeutic techniques while the hospital social worker may have specialist knowledge of particular illnesses and their impact on individuals’ capacity to live independently. Some social workers may feel that they have little wider professional identity outside of their particular job role or simply that the nature of their job results in more identification with the organisation than with the profession. Nonetheless social work does have something unique to offer human service organisations. We have an accumulated body of knowledge that helps us understand individuals and communities within their wider social and political contexts. We promote certain values and take political stances in order to defend these values. We apply our knowledge and values through our skills in critical thinking, research, policy development, counselling and networking. In this sense, social workers bring a unique awareness and capacity to organisational practice.
Social workers are expected to be knowledgeable and skilful in a variety of roles (Patel, 2005:148). The role that is selected and practised should ideally be the role that is most effective with a particular client system in the particular circumstances. The participants elaborated on their perceptions of social workers’ roles as follows. The social worker as counsellor, the counsellor role is applicable in social work with individuals, families and groups addressing issues of a psychosocial nature (Patel, 2005:220). Social workers are expected to provide support and guidance, and inform their clients about their needs and rights, as well as counsel them about their choices and options in addressing their social and economic needs (Patel, 2005:149). During the focus group discussion the participants reflected on the fact that the social workers fulfil their counselling role as follows. “They [social workers] also help people who need counselling, like heart to heart talk, when the two of you are talking and you tell her your problem, she keeps it as confidential.” “Social workers also do traditional HIV and AIDS counselling, where they provide you with pre and post counselling … they teach you about importance of counselling to help people to accept their status.” The idea of the social worker as someone who works with or counsels individuals has been a recurrent and powerful notion in social work throughout its history. It has also been closely associated with some of the key values of social work and in particular recognising the inherent worth of the individual and respecting the person. Counselling also appeals to those whose view of social work as a whole is one in which helping or supporting individuals is a key component (Asquith, Clark & Waterhouse, and 2005:18). The social worker as advocate Social workers campaign for the rights of others and work to obtain the needed resources by convincing others of the legitimate needs and rights of members of society. Furthermore, social workers are particularly concerned with those who are vulnerable are unable to speak up for themselves. Advocacy can occur on the local, provincial or national level (Suppes & Cressy Wells, 2003:280). During the focus group discussion the participants underlined the role of the social worker as an advocate as follows: “Social workers are needed to make sure that the elderly and people with disability are taken care for and receiving their grants from government.” “Some children don’t have birth certificates and others come from outside South Africa with no documentation, but social workers are then able to write a letter perhaps for children to be admitted in our after-care facilities because every child has a right to education.” Asquith et al. (2005:20) indicate that the social worker can also be viewed as an advocate for the poor or socially excluded. The advocacy role can also be assumed for individuals or groups such as families, and in some respects the advocacy role can also be associated with community work.
Fortunately, social workers have a wide array of tools to help children and families to better cope with the normal stresses of life and to deal with systemic problems such as child abuse and homelessness. Through assessment, support, counselling, resource coordination and advocacy, social workers:
● Counsel Families to find better solutions to their problems
● Place abused children in loving homes
● Find employment and housing for homeless
● Help pregnant women, adoptive parents and adopted children navigate the adoption system
● Help children and families make best use of the welfare system
Societal processes related to the modernisation of society change the attitudes of people in relation to volunteering, and they present new challenges for social work. Social work in the world as well as in the Slovak setting has the potential to begin a new era in its relation to volunteering and volunteers. Responsibility for the provision of social services is shifting from government to private and non-profit sectors at the local level. Along with this shift there is an effort to encourage volunteers to participate in fulfilling social needs. Social work is an important profession in the development, provision and evaluation of social services. Its future as an effective and valued profession is significantly linked to how it will renew its role of partner alongside volunteers.
Handly .F and L. Hustinx .L, 2009. The Why and How of Volunteering, Non-profit Management and Leadership, Vol. 19, pp. 549–558.
Makondo .M.G and R.C.W Van Biljon.2002. The Social Work Organisation: integrated theory and practice. Pg 1-147.
R. Constable & J. Flynn (Eds.), School social work: Practice and research perspectives (pp. 49–72).
Timberlake, E., Sabatino, C., & Hooper, S. (1982). School social work practice. Pg 94-142.