Guest blog from Luke Masterson, a support worker at Scope in Leeds.
As a male support worker in my early twenties, I was interested in a recent article in the Guardian about the shortfall in male social and support workers. The article says “only 4.2 per cent of working men currently have roles in health and social care (compared to nearly one in six women)”. Also, only “23 per cent of 16-25 year-olds said they would be more inclined to think about a career in care, if there were a more positive public perception of the role”.
So what is the public’s perception of male carers? Regardless of whether the carer is male or female, are they not doing a fundamentally important job in providing the community with a better standard of living? The gender of a social or support worker is irrelevant.
The main goal of my job at Scope is to provide service users with a better quality of living and increased independence. I have to be honest about how I ended up here. I initially went to a volunteering fair when I was at university to look for something that could enhance my CV and learn more about how a charity works. A year later I work at Scope full time, 41 hours a week, with four different service users and I am in love with the job. Being able to contribute to the community, build relationships with service users and help provide a better quality of living is an un-realised dream come true; not something that I even considered during my journalism degree.
All of the service users I work with are men. One of the main reasons for this is that many male service users need a male companion or role model in their life. This then highlights the issue of the lack of male care support workers, why is this the case? Working in this sector you find yourself predominately giving emotional support, is this something women are more equipped at? In my job I’ve had to learn how to give emotional support, as it’s something I’d not had much practice at before working for Scope.
I do believe the main reason for the current decline in the amount of care workers, regardless of their gender, is the decreasing amount of funding in the care sector. Until this is resolved, the decline in young male support workers seems likely to continue. I think the idea of care and social work also needs to be introduced to males at an earlier age. The work is extremely rewarding and fulfilling and I definitely recommend it to other men my age. Breaking down the stereotypical views of the profession could help to increase the number of males in this sector, which would undoubtedly improve services for the people who need them.