A recruitment campaign in which celebrities urged the nation to consider children’s social work as a career has resulted in 50,000 people expressing interest.
After six months, £11m in government funding, and dozens of TV, radio and billboard adverts across England, the Department for Children, Schools and Families reported a “very encouraging response” to the Help Give Them a Voice and Be the Difference campaigns.
The drive kicked off in September with Help Give Them a Voice, a 10-day burst of TV and internet adverts, which reached an estimated 40m people. Stars such as drum and bass DJ Goldie and Gavin and Stacey actress Joanna Page played distressed mothers or children in need of support appealing directly to the camera, while the voices of other actors were dubbed over theirs.
A second phase, which is still running, features a series of TV, radio, press and billboard adverts urging aspiring social workers to Be the Difference.
A series of everyday objects, such as a bouncing ball or a lump of Plasticine, highlight the variety of tools social workers use to communicate with children and understand their lives and relationships. The Children’s Workforce Development Council is running the adverts, which have been honoured in the Awards for National Newspaper Advertising.
The campaigns were launched to address staff shortages in children’s social work in England, where vacancy rates stand at 11%, according to the General Social Care Council. This is significantly higher than other professions, such as teaching, where less than 1% of posts are unfilled.
People who follow up the adverts by calling the helplines or visiting the websites are invited to register with the CWDC’s career service.
Of the 50,000 people to have registered so far, 9,000 have come through the Help Give Them a Voice campaign, the rest through Be the Difference.
The CWDC keeps in regular contact with those who register and provide support while they consider their career options, a spokesperson for the DCSF said.
When asked whether the DCSF would launch further campaigns, the spokesperson said: “We are currently reviewing activity over the past year to help us shape plans for future activity.”