SHARJAH // Experts have called on governments and local authorities to integrate social services specialists into their organisations.
At a conference in Sharjah on Wednesday, they said that social services could offer support to staff and improve their working conditions.
“Social workers do not have to be limited to family guidance and assistance,” said Abdulaziz Al Dukhail, the director of the Saudi Society for Social Studies and an associate professor at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.
“They should be part of the army, judicial system, police, civil defence and even in sports.
“Employee assistance programmes at work can be beneficial in boosting the quality of work and employee morale.”
In the army, social work is very important, he said.
“Soldiers at times of war see horrific things – wounded civilians and soldiers, dead people – it is very consuming and affects the soldiers’ performance, and the way they live,” Prof Al Dukhail said.
“They [social workers] could offer psychological and moral support to help army personnel lead a stable life.
“Support should also be continued after the soldiers end their duties, so they may lead a healthy life in a good physiological state.”
Prof Al Dukhail also said social workers could be used to aid the fight against terrorism.
“Working with individuals prone to extremism can help them to stay clear of misguided ideas,” he said, adding that social workers could also be of use to the judicial system.
“Social experts should be involved in courts as well, to help the judiciary understand the psyche and mitigating factors that led the individual to land up in court.”
However, one of the problems the social-services industry faced in the Arabian Gulf was unqualified staff.
“Employees in social services departments should have a degree in social work,” said Afaf Al Mirri, the director of Sharjah social services department.
“We need more people who have hands-on experience.
“Those with expertise in social work will be able to effectively deal with cases and help individuals in dire need of support.”
She said staff should be kept up to date with methodologies, studies and research.
“Our staff need to be supported, motivated and trained,” she said. “That will help boost the quality of service we provide.”
The seventh two-day Social Services Conference was held at Al Qasimiya University and involved 87 participants from the public and private sectors from across the Arabian Gulf.
Sharjah was the first emirate to launch a 24/7 child protection hotline, in 2007, where parents, teachers, neighbours or children could report incidents of abuse. The hotline number is 800 700.
Source: uae news