Social Worker Survival Kit | Everything You Need to Get Through the Hard Days

Because of the recent pandemic, a lot of professionals are working from home, but as social workers, we still travel a bit to see individuals in their homes.

Having a social worker survival kit is essential to help you deal with any situation. 

A social worker survival kit is a pack of emergency items that may include food, tools, stationary, and a collection of items to help a social worker in all kinds of situations.  


When I could go into the office every day, I didn’t pay much attention to what was in my bag as at all times; I had access to stationary, snacks and most necessities I needed to perform my role.

What’s in your social worker’s survival kit?

social worker survival kit

So, I was thinking, what should a social worker with no office have in their bag?

Perhaps a social worker’s survival kit

After speaking to a few social workers about what they keep in their purse, bag or car for work that they find helpful, I came up with the list below.

Items to have in your social work bag as a social worker

#1 Bag essentials

  1. Hair ties for ladies if needed for days, you need to keep your hair tied.
  2. A comb or brush to tidy up your hair so you look professional when visiting the client’s house. As a public facing career and it is crucial you represent the industry, establish relationships and act in a responsible and ethical way.
  3. Paying attention to your appearance will give a positive impression to the individuals you support.
  4. Hand sanitizer–Keep and use a hand sanitizer to help kill harmful germs and reduce microbial counts.
  5. Lotion to moisturise dry skin, elbows and heels to make you feel comfortable and keep your skin healthy.
  6. Extra pens–not having a pen when you turn up at a client’s house makes you appear unprepared for the visit.
  7. GPS or Map–Having access to GPS on your phone or a map will be a lifesaver when you are left stranded. Download Google maps and it will sort you out.
  8. You never know when your App might cease to work or your phone battery might die, so have a backup physical map of the area.
  9. Pencil–for when you have to write on a document you may want to erase later.
  10. Notebook–taking good notes during an assessment will help you write a report that reflects what you have discussed.


social work essential kit


  1. Actively taking notes during an assessment will help you focus and better understand what the client is saying. Good note taking will help improve your active listening skills and comprehension.
  2. Remember to maintain eye contact while you are taking notes.
  3. Client paperwork you need, but not in excess.
  4. A snack or lunch for those busy days. It is important not to eat or munch in a client’s house, no matter how hungry you are.
  5. Healthy, non-perishable snacks–remember to keep healthy snacks (e.g. protein bar). These are perfect to keep you going when you don’t have time to stop and eat.
  6. A small knife or scissors to cut up packages, folders or sealed envelopes.
  7. A small makeup bag for those hard days when you feel worn out. Make-up can also help build up your self-esteem and confidence.
  8. Pack of tissues for drying or cleaning where quick absorption is required.
  9. A lightly scented hand cream for freshening up and keeping your hands moisturised.
  10. A small notebook with multi coloured pens, gel pens and highlights.

social worker survival kit


  1. An extra pair of clean clothing or a shirt.
  2. Water–Carry a bottle of water in your bag at all times to keep yourself hydrated.
  3. You never know when you will be stuck somewhere for a long period. Sometimes you may visit a client’s home and find them in a terrible state of health requiring hospital admission. Waiting for an ambulance to convey them may take a while and lead to a late night.
  4. You may even have your clothes soiled unexpectedly. The clothes in your bag don’t have to be fancy. They may be a t-shirt or sweatshirt depending on the season.
  5. Some sweater/shawl for when the weather is not so great and you have not dressed to suit the weather.
  6. Gum or Tic Tacs to keep you awake and alert all day
  7. Laptop for case notes recording or to check on client information if needed
  8. A fully charged mobile phone
  9. Contact details of your colleagues and relevant agencies stored on your phone.
  10. Ibuprofen, antihistamine, paracetamol – Whether it’s staving off that impending headache or giving it to someone who’s sprained an ankle, these drugs are a must-have for every emergency bag.
  11. Remember, people may be allergic to certain medication, so check with them before offering your emergency tablets.
  12. Don’t forget your glasses and keep a spare one if you have one.
  13. Flashlight and extra batteries
  14. You can use your phone as a flashlight; however, you’ll drain your battery quickly. Get yourself a small, lightweight flashlight.

#2 Purse essentials

what's in your social work bag

  1. Some change at least £5 or $5 should you have to pay for parking
  2. Cash and bank card for emergency purchases
  3. Business cards for any local services relevant to the work
  4. Complimentary cards
  5. A small note pad
  6. Emergency contact numbers

#3 Car essentials

social worker essential toolkit

  1. Books to read for when you have to wait for a client or have time between visits.
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Comfortable shoes you can wear if your work shoes are killing your feet
  4. Case files to refer to
  5. Power bank to charge your work or personal phone in case of an emergency
  6. Rain boots in your car boot.
  7. Umbrella for either protection from severe weather elements such as rain or from the sun.
  8. Raincoat–This will be your saviour during stormy weathers. The weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared with a waterproof jacket or coat.
  9. Plastic bag and extra clothes
  10. Your car insurance details
  11. Breakdown cover details for
  12. Gallon of water which can be used as a coolant for your car.
  13. A pair of socks–socks are important because they will protect your feet from rubbing against your shoes when you do a lot of walking. Keep thick socks when the weather is cold and ankle socks if you will wear trainers.

You may also choose to have a social worker survival kit in your car boot with all the items listed above.

Before you go

Thank you so much for reading this article, I hope you have learned a thing or two regarding what you need to have in your bag as a social worker.

I would love to hear what you keep in your bag that has been very useful in your role as a social worker without an office.


social work bag essentials

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