The death of social worker Philip Ellison, stabbed to death in Lancashire last week, has yet again put social work in the spotlight – or has it?
While the tragedy has been extensively covered by the Lancashire Evening Post, there has been little in the national media. Should we worry about this? Several contributors to Community Care’s CareSpace forum asked why there was so little coverage when compared with violence in other professions. One commented on the government giving the NHS £97m to combat aggressive patients last week and said that a TV interview with nurses about dangerous jobs failed to mention anything about social workers.
At least Lancashire Council recognises the dangers. Chris Cheetham, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “I know social workers get a lousy press but it should remind people they do an important and sometimes dangerous job.”
Cheetham may be pointing to the reason why so little has been said nationally: the lousy press social workers receive.
Meanwhile, as the Shannon Matthews story twists and turns the role of social workers is yet again ignored. Shannon’s mother has been arrested along with several other members of the family. Shannon has been in the care of social services since her discovery, and now her other siblings will be joining her. Social workers have been involved in looking after the nine-year-old and supporting her during police enquiries. But while the papers have been regularly featuring the police and speculating about what really happened, the social workers don’t get a look in.