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A kind word for social workers

April 20, 2023

Woman smiling with sun in the background.

Social worker Amy Pinnell left public service to start her own business, sharing messages and products to ease the load of her colleagues in the field.

Name: Amy Pinnell, MSW '16, RSW

Age: I am 33 years young.

Hometown: I was born in Halifax, NS, and spent most of my childhood and youth in Fall River, NS. I moved to Victoria to complete my Master’s and ended up sticking around for nine years. I moved back to the East Coast in 2022 and currently reside in Truro, NS. 

UVic degree and year: Master of Social Work from UVic in 2016.

What I used to be: A Substance-Use Counsellor with an addiction outpatient treatment program at Island Health.

Then I had the idea to: Offer the same kindness, support and compassion to social workers that they give to everyone else. I started off posting messages to social workers on an Instagram account and eventually made these into the “Love Notes for Social Workers—Card Deck.” The card deck is a collection of 34 compassionate and supportive messages for the hard-working social worker who gives so much to others, they sometimes forget to take care of themselves. 

Since its launch in September 2022, social workers have been using this card deck as part of their daily self-care practice, to start their staff meeting and as a tool in clinical supervision.   

Cards on a wood table.
Amy Pinnell created a card deck of 34 compassionate and supportive messages for hard-working social workers who give so much to others.

Why I did it: Social workers are a passionate and social justice-oriented bunch. They care a lot about people and society as a whole. But often, the workplace culture normalizes overworking, chronic stress and burnout–which simply did not work for my Highly Sensitive nature. As I found ways to stay well in the field, I wanted to share the messages and beliefs that helped me in case other social workers found value in them.

How I did it: One step at a time! My card deck, website and shipping process were all created during my transition from Victoria to Truro. I knew I wanted to get this card deck out into the world, so I just focused on one manageable step at a time.

What I love about my new life: I love leaning into my creative side. Through writing and sketching, I have found my voice and created something I wholeheartedly believe in! As a Highly Sensitive Person, creating a schedule that suits my needs has been life-changing and beneficial to my mental health.

What I miss about my old life: I miss working on a team and having colleagues I can easily go to when needing to run an idea off someone or if I'm feeling stuck. I also miss the consistency of the pay cheque.

One lesson learned: If you want to put yourself out there and try something new, you’re going to have to do it scared and imperfect.

One person who helped me: I’ve had a number of cheerleaders along the way. Of course, my partner, Matt, was one of the biggest. He believed in me from the start and continued to even when my confidence wavered.

One trade secret: I started building a community, creating free content that served them and nurturing relationships with fellow social workers before I even considered making and selling a product.   

You can find me: Offering virtual therapy for my private practice, Brave Spirit Counselling and packing up card deck orders for Sensitive Social Worker.