A petition calling on the General Social Care Council to withdraw its invitation to The Sun’s problem page editor, Deidre Sanders, to speak at its annual conference this month has secured over 350 signatures.
Sanders, whom the government controversially appointed to sit on its Social Work Task Force, is due to speak on a panel discussion about improving the status of the profession at the conference in London on 14 October.
But the decision has sparked anger among some social workers, who have vented their fury on CareSpace, Community Care’s online discussion forum, because of The Sun’s attacks on the profession in the wake of the baby Peter case.
Stand Up for Social Work
The petition has been launched in the name of the Stand Up for Social Work campaign, which has also set up a website and blog to give social workers an anonymous space to have their say on the GSCC’s decision, the profession’s treatment by the tabloid press and other issues.
In a response to the criticisms, the GSCC said that in inviting Sanders, it was giving social workers the opportunity to challenge press coverage of social work, which it described as being “littered with sweeping criticisms and misconceptions of social workers”.
The regulator added: “Inviting a representative from a particularly critical newspaper, which is read by millions every day, is a step towards addressing the status of the profession. If we can raise understanding amongst those who put newspapers together, we can influence the views of the wider public. Deidre also sits on the Social Work Task Force which will greatly affect the future of the profession.”
Attacks on CareSpace
However, visitors to CareSpace have renewed attacks on the government for appointing Sanders to the taskforce, which is due to publish its final report in November.
In an interview with Community Care following her appointment to the taskforce, Sanders defended The Sun’s campaign to have social workers involved in the baby Peter case sacked, saying it reflected “thousands upon thousands” of protests received by the paper from the public.
However, Sanders, a trained sex therapist and counsellor who has edited the problem page since 1980, disassociated herself from any editorial decisions around the newspaper’s campaign.
Stand Up Now for Social Work
Community Care’s Stand Up Now for Social Work campaign is calling for an end to misleading and inaccurate media coverage of social work.
The campaign was sparked by the overwhelming response of our readers to the negative coverage of the profession in The Sun and other newspapers following the baby Peter case.
As part of the campaign, Community Care journalist Daniel Lombard wrote an open letter to The Sun’s then editor, Rebekah Wade, calling on the newspaper to portray the profession more positively.
A Community Care petition calling on the prime minister to urge The Sun to back social work, which closed on 1 June, gained over 6,000 signatures.