THE start of a new year gets everyone feeling more reflective than a glitter ball in a torch factory.

Well, if you’re caring by nature but your current job doesn’t satisfy your urge to help people, this is the perfect time to consider a change.

The role of a social worker is to work with individuals, families and groups to improve their lives.

Often those who require help are at their lowest ebb or are vulnerable because of addiction or illness.

One day you could be working with an adopted person to help trace their birth family, the next assisting someone to rebuild their
life after a long stay in hospital.

There’s one constant you can be sure of though: Social work is never dull.

Equally, there are few things as satisfying as helping people change their lives for the better.

Social workers are gatekeepers to a variety of services. They can help individuals claim benefits, access legal advice and navigate the maze of local authority departments. They can also arrange hospitaltreatment or services, such as home care assistance.

If you’re keen, but still feeling nervous about how you might fit into a new role, it’s helpful to know many people enter social work after a career elsewhere.

This is a field that attracts a whole range of people of all ages and from many different backgrounds.

To work as a registered social worker, you must complete an approved degree. If you already have a degree in another subject, you can study for a post-graduate qualification.

Just as important, life experience or volunteering will make you a compelling candidate for any course or position.

Salaries start at between £23,000 and £25,000 for a new graduate. This rises quickly to £29,000 or more in the first few years, depending on the field.

You can find yourself working with children and families, those with addiction issues, the elderly or individuals with a mental health diagnosis.

This means empathy and communication skills are naturally great personal attributes to bring to the job.

Be warned: The work can be demanding, and occasionally upsetting, so perseverance and a rhinothick skin are also good qualities to have.

The administrative side of the job means planning and organisation skills are essential to get the best for your clients.

Above all, as a social worker, you will have the power to transform lives.