When I first got the idea to create Social Work Helper, my goal was to provide a place for helping professionals to collaborate, share information, and find support. However, Social Work Helper has changed tremendously from when it was first launched on World Social Work Day, March 20, 2012. The original website provided some information, but it primarily served as the portal to the social network I created specifically designed for helping professionals.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my Masters in Social Work, it would be one year before I was able to find employment again. During that year, I felt disconnected from my profession because I could no longer afford to pay membership dues to be a part of a professional association. I scoured various different social networks in order to connect with other social workers or helping professionals that were struggling with unemployment like me.
I found that there were other professionals and social workers who were struggling with unemployment, but I quickly realized Linkedin and Facebook were not the forums to discuss these feelings. It’s not uncommon for potential employers to scour social media sites to check out prospective employees, so I still did not feel comfortable reaching out and posting my struggles with unemployment on these sites. I also found it impossible to connect with these folks through private messaging because current social networks prevent you from reaching out to someone not in your network.
Social Work Helper was created as a niche professional network with enhanced security and an approval process in order to provide a space for support, information, and collaboration to its users. I designed this site to make it easier for like-minded individuals to connect with each other. There is no more out of network or do you know this person, the pre-approval process helps to determine the suitability of users.
As people begin to join, the swhelper mobile app and updated web space were created to make it easier for users to connect on their smartphones. The network also provides a library of resources for users, groups, forums, community blog posts, podcast, and more. Then, the Social Work Helper Magazine was created to further increase visibility for social work, nonprofits, and social good organizations. Social Work Helper has launched other components to include social work chats which is a live Twitter chat using the hashtag #SWUnited.