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“Social Work (MA) changed my life for the better”

4 January 2023

A person smiling into a webcam

We caught up with Arzu Bokhari, a Social Work (MA) 2022 graduate who talked to us about her social work story so far, and her experience gaining her Registered Social Worker qualification at Cardiff University.

Q. Hello Arzu, please tell us about yourself…

A. Hello! I was a student on the master’s social work course at Cardiff University, graduating this year, finishing the course in July.

I now work as a social worker for adults in adult services for Torfaen County Borough Council.

Q. What has your experience as a social worker been like so far?

A. You know, I’ve never really had any positive feedback [from friends and family]. They just say, “That’s a really stressful job...” And it is a stressful job, but it’s also a really rewarding one.

There are times when I just feel like screaming, but other times you really have the ability to change people’s lives, despite the system which can sometimes be quite limiting.

So yes, it is hard; yes, it can be stressful, but you don’t really know what social work’s like until you go on placement, and that’s what I think people don’t understand.

You see negatives a lot of the time [in the media]. For example, people have – in my experience – negative encounters with children’s social workers and they’ve held on to those negative experiences.

I think more education around social work would be beneficial in changing this, and I think this is part of the reason why people don’t look to social work as a degree.

They see all these biases [in the media] and the stress that people talk about and it’s kind of like a vicious cycle, really.

In Torfaen we’re having issues recruiting and it’s probably the same within other local authorities, and that’s because of this vicious cycle. It can’t be solved by educating people, but it is a start and I think that would help.

A social worker reads a book with a child.

Q. How was your time with us on our Social Work (MA) course?

A. I found the course really good. I met a few people I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. I really do think it changed my life for the better because I am quite happy in my job.

I found the placements invaluable, as difficult as they were, juggling alongside assignments and working, which is a reality for most students.

We campaigned for the bursary to be increased and it has been increased, but it’s been increased with the cost of living crisis, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

So I appreciate that some students will be struggling right now and question whether it’s worth it.

In my opinion, it is worth it. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say, “It’s easy,” but it’s worth it in the end.

What I will say is to give the course a chance, it’ll change your life for the better.

Q. Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us about your social work experience overall?

A. You’ll have really supportive staff at Cardiff University who legitimately care about you. For example, Dan [Burrows], who really motivated me throughout my dissertation.

For me, personally, that was the most difficult part of the course as it was such a big piece of work.

The professors are in your corner, and if things go wrong in your placement, they’re there to support you and they will be by your side throughout any issues.

Many thanks to Arzu for taking the time to chat with us.

Watch the full Q&A and find out more about Social Work (MA).

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