Social work bridges social gaps and enriches the lives of individuals. People often associate social work with building relationships and providing support. However, we believe that there is more to social work. Besides bringing about social change through human relationships, innovation is vital for empowering those in need. Innovating solutions targeted to the needs and goals of people is key to making a difference in society. Social issues have become more complex with time, and new innovations are needed to help those in need. Globalization has also caused many communities to fall behind and face constraints on development. These communities face limitations, but innovations in social work can help generate more niche and specific solutions to meet the needs of people and help them reach their full potential.
With the advancement of technology, demands for digital services have increased and there is a need for more innovations in the social services sector. Building and providing services that meet the needs of people are our goals at The Patatas. Design thinking methodology is one such innovation that helps improve social services. Through design thinking, the needs of people can be better understood and concept solutions can be crafted to enrich the lives of others. For The Patatas, we believe that through the use of technology and innovation, lives can be transformed. In this article, we have put together information about innovation in social work. Here are 5 things you never knew about innovations in social work:
Various communities require different ideas and solutions that can help improve their livelihood. Through new innovations, change can be brought about. For developing countries, they often lack the resources and materials needed for learning. Through technological development and innovations, children and students can learn more effectively and productively. Seeing the need to introduce e-learning opportunities to disadvantaged communities, The Patatas developed ‘Digi-Eskwela’. We introduced tablets as a platform for educational applications and materials for Tiwala Kids and Communities, and that helped the students improve in their literacy and numeracy skills significantly. As part of ‘CaseStudy’, the tablets run on solar energy and do not require charging, making it convenient for the staff and students. We aim to always be on the lookout for creative and useful solutions to help solve social problems that people face these days.
Social challenges require systemic solutions that are based on the client’s needs. Studying the struggles that people face will help innovators come up with systemic solutions that can help them in the long run. Systemic solutions involve a complex interaction of various factors. One example of such systemic change in social sectors is the Grameen Foundation. The Grameen Foundation has seen success in their social innovations, as they do both designing solutions as well as provide training to equip women and families. Through the use of digital technology and studying the needs of people on the ground, they have developed breakthrough solutions. As social workers, we work step-by-step with our clients and find out what is required to help them with their struggles. From there, we come up with systemic solutions for them to achieve lasting and effective change.
Many social work innovations are birthed from reading and listening to people. Whether on the ground or even through social media, the key to creating life changing innovations is to find out what people need. Empathising with others, scrolling through social media trends and monitoring our environments are some examples of how social work innovations come about. When we are able to understand the needs of people and the challenges they face, we can come up with life-changing solutions for them. That is why we constantly talk to people and collaborate with our partners to come up with solutions for various social problems. Being observant to the environments around us can help us to find issues in our communities, and from there we can come up with solutions and help improve the lives of others. For disadvantaged communities, it is crucial for us to understand their lives and struggles they face by being on the ground. Our experiences working with people in remote communities helped us empathize with them, as well as come up with customized solutions to their problems. During our ‘CaseStudy’ project, we noticed the struggles that the Tiwala staff faced. From transportation problems to infrastructure issues, we observed the difficulties that they faced and worked hard to find feasible solutions for them. Our ‘CaseStudy’ and ‘Digi-Eskwela’ projects successfully helped them with their educational quality and improved the lives of the staff and students.
Besides having a heart to serve others and wanting to make a difference in the lives’ of people, structures and processes are important to help support social work and keep it going in the long run. Constant innovations and developments can help create new systems for social workers, and can make an impact for a long period of time. This also helps the social service sectors remain relevant in enhancing the wellbeing of users. Innovations in social work can help create lifelong support for members of the society, as well as aid people towards self-sufficiency. As innovations involve looking both inward and outward, we can reflect on existing practices and structures and improve with time. Finding new ideas and solutions should be an ongoing practice, so that we can continue tailoring relevant solutions to those who need them. As the needs of people change along with time, it is necessary for social innovations to continue growing and meeting the needs of users. Being able to adapt to changes in society can help social workers bridge the gaps effectively. Pushing ourselves to find new answers and perspectives will benefit our societies.