Someone to watch over me
Episode three (of six), 30 November
3/5 star rating
For too long social workers have been criticised for
overreacting or not doing enough, and the media is unlikely to
change public opinion, writes Angie Jackson.
Nevertheless, programme three portrayed a brief snapshot of some of
the dilemmas that face social workers each day. For example, when
does the local authority move from family support to taking
necessary steps to protect children by removing them? Answer: when
there is sufficient evidence or significant concerns to justify it.
Whether viewers believe placing young people in a secure unit is
right or wrong is not the issue; the facts are that the unit
contained 14-year-old Nadia’s behaviour in the short-term by
providing a place of safety with firm boundaries, rules and
regulations. The family saw the social worker as the big bad wolf,
when in reality management are involved in decision-making.
However, this was not portrayed and the public were led to believe
that the decision was solely that of the social worker.
In the case of baby Ashley, balancing risks was even more difficult
because of the family’s history. The decision to follow a family
support route might well be interpreted as risk-taking but without
evidence. This is the reality of social work. Nonetheless, this
episode showed workers carrying out their duties in partnership
with parents, making it clear that Ashley could be removed if
To my mind the programme would have benefited if the interviewer
had explored what the support plan involved, besides daily
monitoring from the health visitor.
This episode succeeded in offering viewers a portrait of social
work in action but it failed to show the bureaucracy of social
work, how managers are involved in decision-making and the
importance of multi-agency working.
Angie Jackson is a social worker with Yeovil social
services children and family team, Somerset.