7 June 2017
London attack victim Christine Archibald leaves a legacy for social workers
As a social worker, she worked to build inclusive communities. Her dedication is a reminder that economic health is only achievable with social health
Christine Archibald, a Canadian social worker, is the first victim to have been named following the terror attack in London on Saturday evening.
She worked in a shelter for homeless people in Canada, supporting those who are rootless and exist in the shadows of society. Her belief that everyone should be met with respect and dignity stands in stark contrast to the brutality of her murder.
As a social worker, Christine worked to build inclusive, peaceful, sustainable communities. She was one of three million social workers in 126 countries around the world who know that we must work towards changing the fragile world we live in.
In a statement, Christine’s family said: “Please honour her by making your community a better place. Volunteer your time and labour or donate to a homeless shelter. Tell them Chrissy sent you.”
As social workers, we often work with people who want to change things in their lives. Many of us travel on that journey with both victims and perpetrators of violence. We know the hopes, fears and secrets that dominate the thoughts of those who have experienced violence, and the way they live with its effects for the rest of their lives. This is what drives people who choose social work as their profession: the desire to offer our skills, knowledge and expertise in the attempt to change individual lives for the good of our communities to create peaceful, safe, inclusive and socially just spaces for us all to live in.
It is too simplistic to suggest that the violent acts of recent weeks stem solely from faith or a particular religious affiliation. The origins of violent behaviour are complex, but typically involve feelings of alienation, being outside and excluded from your surroundings; feeling totally alone; and lacking a positive sense of identity.
While people who commit violence must be held responsible for their acts, a mature society also works towards understanding and preventing violence. We cannot ignore the contribution made by factors such as inequality and injustice. Without this deeper understanding of the roots of violence, no amount of changes to the law or investment in counter-terrorism schemes can offer the long-term solution that is required to transform alienated citizens into builders of safe communities.
As politicians come and go, we need to remind them that economic health is only achievable with social health. Christine’s dedication to helping people transform their lives is her legacy to social workers around the world.
Ruth Stark, IFSW President
Read this article on The Guardian