Public perceptions of social work in Scotland have significantly improved since sector leaders launched a PR offensive last year, according to the Association of Directors of Social Work.
An ADSW poll found 47% of respondents rated social work positively, up from 38% last year.
The survey of 1,000 Scottish adults also revealed that 80% of people who had used social work services, or whose families had, held a positive view of social work.
And the proportion of people that were unsure about their view of social work had fallen from 43% to 31%.
Social work was highly criticised by the Scottish media following the death of Dundee toddler Brandon Muir, aged 23 months, at the hands of his mother’s partner in March 2008.
A significant case review published in August found child protection agencies in Dundee could not have predicted Brandon’s death.
However, the review said poor information-sharing and recording had undermined the ability of agencies to investigate concerns.
Following that, ADSW, the Scottish Social Services Council and Pagoda Public Relations launched Social Work Changes Lives, a campaign to improve understanding of social work services in Scotland. The campaign was backed by the Scottish government.
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the SSSC, said: “Public understanding of what social workers do is fundamental to building trust and confidence in the profession.
“It is also essential that we attract great new people into social work training and careers in social services – more positive media coverage will help raise awareness of just what you can achieve when you work with vulnerable people.”
Harriet Dempster, outgoing president of ADSW, told Community Care the association was trying to be “more courageous” about speaking out as an organisation and trying to educate the public and the media about social work.
However, she admitted the campaign had a mixed reception. “In some areas it has gone over well and the positive is coming through, but in other areas it’s less so,” she said.
“One of the things we have found difficult is to get social workers involved. There have been opportunities in the media and we haven’t been able to rise to them.”
Michelle Miller, Edinburgh’s chief social work officer, is taking over as the new president of ADSW this week.
Social Work Changes Lives, which will run for at least another year, was launched at roughly the same time as Community Care’s campaign, Stand Up Now for Social Work, which aimed to improve the public image of the profession through more balanced and accurate media coverage.