‘Professionalism’ and NGOs

Sir, – Simon Gordon's letter on "Education and 'professionalism'" raises a very important issue (July 18th). He has focused on education, when in the past "professionalism was associated with high standards". This of course is true in so many other important areas of Irish life. The word "professional" is being abused and often conveniently misunderstood in so many areas of crucial importance to the lives of so many people. Health and social care, poverty and social exclusion come to mind when people with creative ideas can face enormous challenges when questioning some of the new models coming on stream. "Professionalism" at times amounts to "ticking boxes", with questionable outcomes.

The skill-sets and experience of many dedicated and hard-working people are often undervalued and not appreciated. For example, those spending essential time with vulnerable people needing that time can find themselves being accused of “wasting time with people” and more importantly of being “unprofessional”. This is an issue that has now seeped into the NGO sector with emphasis on “best practice”, with at times serious consequences. – Yours, etc,


Director of Services,


Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.