Social Worker Profiles

This page profiles some of our members who are serving their communities beyond the parameters of their practice, or who have played a pioneering role in an area of social work practice. Members are encouraged to  add their profiles here. Please email nicole@mango-omc.com, using the heading in the profiles below and in approximately 600 words.

Brenda Lane

Cape Town, Western Cape

I have been involved in providing parenting counselling to parents at an NPO (The Parent Centre, Wynberg, CPT. Counselling and Supervision)… Learn more below and get to know me.

Get To Know Me

What type of social development work have you undertaken?

I have been involved in providing parenting counselling to parents at an NPO (The Parent Centre, Wynberg, CPT. Counselling and Supervision). I have also provided supervision to social workers employed on a fulltime and sessional basis at this NPO. Parents asking for counselling would only pay a nominal fee for the service or not pay if they were unemployed.

Is the work that you have described in Question 1 ongoing or do you do it as a project or as and when you have time?

I was “employed” on a sessional basis, generally 1 full day per week to provide counselling and supervision for 3 years which came to an end stage 5 Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, I attended group supervision and organizational meetings. Any payment was on an honorary basis (a minimal fee for counselling and supervision time, no fee for cancelled sessions and no fee for all the additional meetings and managing additional administrative tasks).

Mmathapelo Letsholo

Bloemfontein, Free State

I assisted 1 client annually on pro-bono basis at my private practice… Learn more below and get to know me.

Get To Know Me

Why did you get involved in the project? In other words, why is this type of work important within a societal context?

I assisted 1 client annually on pro-bono basis at my private practice. I have not been involved with any organization yet. It is important to enlighten members of the public and other professionals about the work that social workers do. In most cases social workers are only associated with statutory and community work and people are not aware that social workers can specialize in other fields such as medical and clinical work.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project/sector/work?

There are many challenges that are faced by communities regarding mental health. Often communities think that they can only be assisted by psychologist, whereas they can also be assisted by social workers in this field.

If other people were interested in getting involved, what do you believe the most important skill set is that you should have to work in this sector?

Understand mental health, how it affects people and the kind of resources that are there to assist.

Are there other areas, perhaps distinct from this project, in which you feel you have played a pioneering role that is perhaps unusual for a social worker or that has expanded the role of social work?

Many companies are beginning to realise the importance of mental health services and they are beginning to engage the services of mental healthcare providers to assist their employees and their immediate families.

Sarah Garland

Cape Town

I co-founded an NPO organisation that provides fully funded equine assisted therapy programmes to women who have been exposed to trauma and abuse… Learn more below and get to know me.

Get To Know Me

What is the work that you would like to highlight?

I co-founded an NPO organisation that provides fully funded equine assisted therapy programmes to women who have been exposed to trauma and abuse, to youths who are in residential care and who have suffered trauma, abuse, neglect and struggle with behavioural issues, and forensic male psychiatric patients at Valkenberg Hospital. The organisation also provides individual and family funded equine assisted therapy sessions for those in need and who cannot afford the therapy when funding is available.

We have also developed a caring for the caregivers programme which is a fully funded programme that provides psychosocial support to those in the caring professions such as SAPS, forensic social workers and social workers and caregivers in various organisations.

Why did you get involved in the project? In other words, why is this type of work important within a societal context?

I have always had a passion for helping people. Over the years, I have found trauma intriguing in terms of mental health and the psychological impact it has on people. Through studying for my Masters in Clinical Social work, I saw how trauma can impact people. Not only people directly but also indirectly. I felt an urgency to be able to offer a service to those who are in need.

In our society, in South Africa, we have so many communities suffering all kinds of trauma and we, at The Equinox Trust, found that the model of therapy of working with horses to alleviate trauma really empowers change not only for those who have directly suffered trauma, but the change filters through to those closely associated with clients who have experienced our therapy.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project/sector/work?

Having specialised in a model of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Therapy and Learning and with my psychodynamic training as a clinical social worker I believe that what we offer in our therapeutic model can create powerful, life changing experiences for those people who are most in need. The founding of The Equinox Trust is based on providing a unique and powerful therapeutic service to those communities that are in need and who suffer from trauma.

If other people were interested in getting involved, what do you believe the most important skill set is that you should have to work in this sector?

Compassion, a passion for helping those who are less fortunate or in need and an understanding of horses and the healing qualities they provide.

Are there other areas, perhaps distinct from this project, in which you feel you have played a pioneering role that is perhaps unusual for a social worker or that has expanded the role of social work?

Directly related to the work I do, I have pioneered, along with my colleagues, bringing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Therapy and Learning to the NGO space of therapeutic services offered in South Africa, as well as getting social workers recognised in the clinical space.

I have been the Western Cape Coordinator for our particular modal that we specialise in, which is founded and based in America, and have enabled those social workers who are trained in the model to gain CPD points with SACSSP through our networking groups thus creating awareness and recognition for this kind of specialisation.

With my colleague, we have pioneered a programme with the Valkenberg Forensic Psychiatric Unit that is one of the few in the world that is working with our model of therapy and psychiatric patients.

Where can we find more information?

www.equinoxtrust.org

Cindy Bilson

South Africa

I am a ward councillor in the City of Tshwane and the Chair of the section 79 Social Development portfolio… Learn more below and get to know me.

Get To Know Me

Why did you get involved in the project? In other words, why is this type of work important within a societal context? 

I am a ward councillor in the City of Tshwane and the Chair of the section 79 Social Development portfolio. I have worked in the development of trauma counselling for government clinics with the help of Unisa Social work Dept. I also work with ECD centres, establishing sports facilities in rural areas and more. I got involved because the City of Tshwane was not able to provide trauma services to personnel due to Covid-19 and lack of budget. This is important since these are frontline workers and if they not ok we will not have people to care for the poorest of the poor. Helping them cope also provides the opportunity to teach them skills that were transferred to patients.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project/sector/work? 

I have an understanding of how local government works because of my current position and my experience in trauma counselling and community development assisted to provide a positive xx for engagement.

If other people were interested in getting involved, what do you believe the most important skill set is that you should have to work in this sector? 

Proper training in managing trauma and being prepared for whoever crosses your path.

Mike Batley

Pretoria

I have established a social concerns desk at our local residents’ association, which includes raising dialogue about resources to assist homeless people and people begging on the streets as well as engaging with informal recyclers……Learn more below and get to know me.

Get To Know Me

Why did you get involved in the project? In other words, why is this type of work important within a societal context?

We stay in a very old suburb, now referred to a ‘first neighbourhood’ due to its proximity to the CBD. The boundary between us is no more than the railway line! We see a number of poor people and homeless people begging at street corners, at shops, at our doors and on rubbish collection days when they scour the bins for material that can be recycled. Most residents would not dare set foot in the CDB and vacillate between feeling threatened and irritated by these people to being genuinely concerned but not sure how to respond. My idea was to create awareness of the resources that are available in the CBD, so that we can connect people to them, and also encourage our residents to support these resources in a range of ways. Along the way we became aware of a recycling buy-back depot close to us run by an NGO. They are focused on making their project sustainable and aren’t able to address the personal, family and training needs of the informal recyclers.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project/sector/work?

It starts with an orientation, fundamental to my identity as a social worker and ethics practitioner, of seeing all these people as having human dignity and should therefore be treated with respect. Also, to acknowledge our privilege as middle-class citizens and that we can play a role in supporting the personal and economic development of these people.

I’ve been able to use my ability to network to draw in another organisation that focuses more on the personal development of people on the streets and also to become familiar what is taking place at a national policy level regarding informal recyclers and how we can see our efforts as a part of that.

If other people were interested in getting involved, what do you believe the most important skill set is that you should have to work in this sector?

An understanding of the opportunities that the project presents. There are risks – many residents regard informal recyclers as a serious security threat, but I believe these can be managed and that we can’t isolate ourselves from this reality. So there is a need for the ability to see the bigger picture, to see our community as part of that and for organising skills.

Are there other areas, perhaps distinct from this project, in which you feel you have played a pioneering role that is perhaps unusual for a social worker or that has expanded the role of social work?

Since 2000, through an NGO the Restorative Justice Centre (www.rjc.co.za ) I’ve actively promoted the use of restorative justice as an additional response to crime, violence and conflict. While there are organisations such as Nicro and Khulisa that have also done this, I think my unique contribution was to position restorative justice as a development in criminal justice theory and as a more useful way of thinking about and responding to issues of conflict, violence and crime.

At present we do this the following programmes:

Programme Details
Advocacy and public awareness

·         Engage policy makers in the criminal justice system

·         Promote thought leadership through social media

·         Recent initiatives have included lobbying for the use of restorative justice in hate-crime legislation and proposing the increased use of plea and sentence agreements in serious fraud and corruption matters

Court-based mediation ·         Facilitate conversations in criminal matters at a pre-trial and pre-sentence stage. Presently our main focus is on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
Intervention in correctional facilities

·         Teach people in prison the principles of accepting responsibility and making right for the harm caused.

·         Set up and facilitate conversations between victims, family members and people in correctional facilities.

Other contexts ·         We have initiatives in schools and environmental crime
Training and mentoring

·         Since our inception we have trained over 2500 practitioners

·         We have collaborated with colleagues from other organisations to establish the South African Restorative Justice Accreditation Body (SARJAB) to create a mechanism for accrediting training programmes and certifying competence of practitioners

 

In the past year I was able to publish 2 op-eds about this (including a proposal to the Zondo Commission on the debate about amnesty for people involved in state capture) in DM and SpotlightAfrica:

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/author/mike-batley/

https://spotlight.africa/author/mike-batley/

 

John Clarke

Johannesburg

I am involved in a project to provide professional psycho-social support to people generally called ‘whistleblowers’ to help bring deeper truths about corruption and wrongdoing to the surface. 

Get To Know Me

Why did you get involved in the project? In other words, why is this type of work important within a societal context?

It is a collaborative process of working in an interdisciplinary approach so that Power, Truth and Freedom come into a new relationship of mutual interdependence for the transformation of society, more coherent with environmental, economic, political and social reality.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project/sector/work?  

I have accumulated 40 years of human rights and social justice advocacy experience, focused on empowering vulnerable and disadvantaged clients to realise their personal sense of agency and become protagonists of their own developmental process, and transcend dependency.

A large part of this has involved working with the media.   In the era of State Capture I have found myself trusted by whistleblowers who have also been confidential sources for investigative journalists reporting on corruption.  I work closely with journalists to provide counselling to their sources who experience considerable stress, fear and anxiety.

If other people were interested in getting involved, what do you believe the most important skill set is that you should have to work in this sector?

Besides having good counselling skills, they would need to have fully owned their personal story, and processed any sense of shame and experiences of powerlessness.  They would also need to be well networked within civil society and have an appetite for historical awareness.  They would also need to follow a disciplined spiritual practice in whatever religious or spiritual tradition they come from.

Are there other areas, perhaps distinct from this project,  in which you feel you have played a pioneering role that is perhaps unusual for a social worker or that has expanded the role of social work?

Working with mining affected communities to overcome inequality in power relations, using the Bill of Rights as the basis for empowerment.

Lucé Pretorius

Potchefstroom

I coordinate an international support group for women who have experienced sexual trauma. In my own practice, I pro bono assist one client every quarter. In addition, I lead a social work activism organization that aims to energize, modernize, and motivate social workers. Learn more about me by reading below.

Get To Know Me

Why did you get involved in the project?

This is a powerful intervention that offers assistance, comfort, and compassion to survivors dealing with their experience and the problems that arise as a result of it.

How do you believe that your specific skill set (or experience) helps in this particular project?

I am passionate about social work and consider it both a profession and a calling. Despite the fact that I am highly motivated and involved in a range of tasks, I am only fully fulfilled when I know I am assisting others and making a difference in their lives. With over ten years of social work experience, I believe my knowledge, attitudes, and skillset is valuable to this endeavour.

Are there other areas, perhaps distinct from this project,  in which you feel you have played a pioneering role that has expanded the role of social work?

It’s important for me to explain my involvement as a board member of #SWAG (Social Work Advocacy Group). This social work activism group aims to invigorate, modernize, and inspire inexperienced social workers to achieve success in their employment. We concentrate on increasing business acumen, social worker skill sets, and professional value. SWAG champions causes and fights injustice but they are also activists at heart.

Get In Touch

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About SAASWIP

SAASWIPP is a voluntary professional association of social workers in private practice. Our members are experienced qualified social workers, registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).

SAASWIPP believes in the value of the Social Work profession and in the valuable contribution made by social workers in private practice to mental health, psychosocial well-being, welfare and development in South Africa.