Politicians rallied to the cause of Scotland’s social workers and attacked the scapegoating of individual practitioners in a special debate at the Scottish Parliament this week.
MSPs queued up to praise the sector’s “dedicated, compassionate and hard-working” professionals during a 45-minute exchange in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
MSPs back campaign
The debate was triggered by a motion in support of the Association of Directors of Social Work campaign, Social Work Changes Lives, which aims to raise the public profile of the profession.
Labour MSP Ken Macintosh has tabled a separate parliamentary motion supporting Community Care’s Stand Up Now for Social Work campaign, which aims to promote respect for the profession through balanced and accurate media coverage.
Social workers-turned-politicians speak out
MSPs from across the political spectrum unanimously supported the need to highlight the value of social workers to the whole of society.
Speakers included former social workers Cathy Jamieson, Trish Godman and Angela Constance, and former social care tutor Christina McKelvie, who secured the debate.
McKelvie, from the Scottish National Party, led calls for an end to the blame culture which created more problems than it solved.
Problems in attitude “deep-rooted”
She described Scotland’s social workers as “dedicated, compassionate and hard-working individuals who make improvements bit by bit and day by day”.
Several speakers, such as Conservative MSP John Lamont, questioned why positive stories about social workers rarely featured in the news. He put the imbalance down to “a deep-rooted attitude that will take some time to shift”.
Non-social workers “cannot imagine” what it’s like
Labour MSP Trish Godman reflected on her time as a social worker in the east end of Glasgow.
She said non-social workers “cannot imagine” what it is like to turn up to work on a Monday morning and deal with referrals of families being torn apart by substance misuse and domestic violence.
“Often, those who criticise social work do not use the service; they apportion blame with little or no evidence to support what they say and have little understanding of the issues.”
Treat social workers as human beings
Nigel Don, representing the SNP, said local government leaders often escaped criticism for social work failings despite their poor leadership of departments.
He urged the media to treat social workers as “normal human beings”: “People are wrong every now and again. I wish that the press understood and recognised that sometimes.”
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