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“I believe restricting yourself to one identity can be limiting and there is a risk that Social workers can get burnt out or demoralised as some people just live to work.”
Before we go any further, remember, we are driven completely by a desire to support social work and those who dedicate themselves to this admirable profession. That will never change. However, we do feel that sometimes social workers suffer because they are put into the “social worker” category and therefore are only seen as their practice. Whereas we know that the professionals who make up our social work community are so much more than that, and these multiple faceted personas are worth celebrating. Your practice is developed by the type of person you are, the things you’re passionate about, the hobbies that inspire you and the activities that relax you. One individual who advocates for looking beyond the social worker label is Peter Field, who’s band Peter118 is showcasing that social workers can share a drive for social work with an external passion for something like music.
We recently got to know Peter better to understand a bit more about breaking this ‘stigma’ around a social workers identity and to find out how he uses music as a way to show that practitioners don’t have to have social work as their whole world. It’s an important, time-consuming and at times draining profession yes, but Peter is adamant that it’s not just possible, but recommended, to find an external hobby or activity. A self-proclaimed lover of American rock bands of the 90s, Peter has been playing the guitar since he was 16 and uses music as a way to express himself. With all the stresses of working in social work, where every day brings new challenges and emotionally intense work, it’s so important to find a way to relax and have some fun. We recognise that practitioners are so much more than their practice, and we love that social workers like Peter are working to fight against the stigma.
What Peter recognises is that so many social workers feel they don’t have the time for a hobby on top of their practice; meaning that many of them don’t foster these passions and their overall well-being suffers. Social workers work with people when they’re vulnerable and in need of real support, but this process becomes so much more complicated when they feel overwhelmed, overworked or without a creative release. Peter comments that playing in his band allows him to escape the stresses of work and channel his energy into an art form; creating a process to compartmentalise the emotionally charged cases he’s dealt with in a day.
Peter is proof that diary management and ensuring you plan out time for a hobby pays off, as his dedication to his musical side has led to Peter118 music being featured on national radio as well as American TV; and the band have toured multiple countries. His passion doesn’t just save him from burnout and protect his mental health, it’s also given him the chance to earn recognition from two areas that he cares about. On top of that, his musical success is now allowing him to support projects and schools that use music as a forum for facilitating change in the lives of vulnerable people, like the Bridge School in Telford, a specialist school for children with disabilities.
Making time for something you love outside of your practice does not diminish your love, dedication and capabilities within social work; if anything, it highlights a reflective practice where you’re identifying the need to protect your wellbeing before being able to effectively help service users.