Local authorities should do more to empower social workers and service users to tell their stories in the media, according to Social Care Institute for Excellence chief executive Julie Jones.
Social workers often talk about their roles with passion and can be very persuasive, which is valuable in the drive to get positive stories about the profession into the media, she said.
Speaking at a special media-themed meeting of Scie’s Partners’ Council, a group of its key stakeholders, she said social workers must guard against blocking service users from telling their stories. “Sometimes we are appropriately reticent; sometimes we are defensively reticent,” Jones said.
The social work profession must recognise the impact of “24-hour, wallpaper” news on the media’s demand for stories.
“That doesn’t match our pace. They are in a tearing rush and we want to slow down and explain properly,” Jones said.
Social workers also need to make more use of digital media, such as blogs and videos, to publicise their work, she said. Scie is to launch an online TV channel in the autumn to tell social workers’ stories.
Following concerns raised by the Social Work Task Force about the lack of a strong national voice for the profession in the media, Jones said Scie could provide this role. “Scie’s trustees would like us to have a different voice in the media, to be the first point of call for journalists,” she said.
The event also included a session by Community Care on our Stand Up Now for Social Work campaign on improving media coverage of social work.
Pledges roll in
Meanwhile, British Association of Social Workers head Hilton Dawson, former Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president John Dixon and Unison press chief Mary Maguire have all made pledges to Stand Up Now for Social Work.
Dixon pledged to “encourage social workers to share their successes”, Dawson pledged to listen to social workers and be their national voice, and Maguire pledged to ensure that Unison’s press office challenged any biased or ill-informed reports.