international social work, overseas social worker, differences between social work in the uk and south africa, sanctuary international, relocation challenges, social work england

International social work case study – Innocent Mudingo

By Luke Aldred

​We speak to Innocent Mudingo, overseas social worker at Medway Council, about his experience of international recruitment. He shares the differences between social work in the UK and South Africa, where he was originally based.

What made you want to relocate to work in the UK?

I was born in Zimbabwe and studied in South Africa, where I stayed upon completion of my qualifications and developed a real passion for social work. I enjoyed working and living there, but after 10 years, I was keen for a fresh start.

I wanted a challenge in a new and exciting environment and after doing some research, I found that the UK had lot of opportunities around social work and children’s services specifically, which is my area of interest.

What are the differences between working in the UK and South Africa?

The setup really is very different, however the theory, values and principles are similar.

In some ways, South Africa is still recovering from several of its historic social policies. The country’s approach to social work is more developmental, almost trying to correct the past. There, it’s about taking social services and presenting it to the general population. I found that I actively needed to inform people about the services they’re entitled to. It’s very different in the UK. Here, people seem to be more aware of the support that’s available to them, and what their rights are.

How did you first find out about Sanctuary International?

I found out about Sanctuary International through a friend. They said, “This company will make your dreams come true” and put me in touch with one of the consultants. Within a day or so, the job search and relocation process was explained to me, and my journey began.

What relocation challenges did you face?

Lockdown was the main issue for me, really. It meant that everything was held up considerably; we submitted all our information back in March 2020, but by the end of that month everything was halted and our applications couldn’t be processed. I then had to wait until the end of July 2020 before things started moving again.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a new life in the UK?

It’s really important to be aware of the timelines. It all starts with your registration with Social Work England (you can’t practice in the UK without doing this). Although Sanctuary International supported me really well throughout the process, I also knew I had to do my part and stay focused; there are a lot of things to consider along the way. The sooner you start, the less stressful it will be.

If you’re required to submit any information, do so as quickly as you can to help keep things moving in the right direction. Be as organised as you possibly can.

I want to say a big thank you to the team at Sanctuary International. Arriving in the UK without knowing anyone or how things work could have been daunting, but the team were there for me at each step of the way and ensured everything ran smoothly. Thanks to Sanctuary International, my first few days were memorable and comfortable.