Newly qualified social workers are being abandoned at the front
line with no information about the services they can offer their
Community Care LIVE delegates discussing how to fill gaps
in statutory service provision said new social workers, especially
those from overseas, were unable to do their job properly because
they were not told about the resources available.
Social worker Karina Hewitson, who joined the London Borough of
Barking and Dagenham from New Zealand three months ago said:
“Coming in as a new person, you are learning on every level. It’s
impossible and it’s overwhelming. It’s too much to do by yourself
if you aren’t being helped.
“They recruit people from overseas and then just dump them,” she
said, adding that there was no time set aside for learning.
Former social worker Tuzel Torgout added that newcomers were
equally uninformed about how new government initiatives, such as
Sure Start, Connexions and the Children’s Fund, could help the
children and families they worked with.
“There are huge issues about how we filter information to
front-line workers,” Torgout said. “We need to control it and make
She also criticised the lack of emphasis social work courses placed
on organisational skills, despite the job requiring staff to be
“If you haven’t got organisation skills in your head when you sit
down at your social work desk, forget it,” she said.
Another area in service delivery that delegates identified as
needing improvement was the use of volunteers, particular in
children and families work. Delegates said volunteers were helpful
when working with alienated families as they could offer a more
equal relationship than professionals and were often viewed as less
of a threat.
“Volunteers play a very different role in families,” said Family
Welfare Association chief executive Helen Dent. “If you have
someone who is neither statutory nor making decisions about whether
or not a child is removed they could actually be very helpful.”