A controversial social work recruitment campaign by Coventry Council focusing on the death of murdered schoolboy Daniel Pelka has had largely positive reactions from the sector, including the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).
BASW chief executive Bridget Robb complimented the council on its willingness to deal openly with the impact that Daniel’s death had had on its staff and the people of Coventry.
“Councils often face criticism for citing confidentiality as a reason why cases cannot be discussed. This is a straight-talking campaign that turns this notion on its head and provides reassurance for potential recruits to the department that hard truths will be acknowledged by children’s services at Coventry,” said Robb.
The Do It For Daniel campaign uses the memory of Daniel Pelka, a four year old boy from Coventry who was beaten to death by his mother and stepfather after months of physical and emotional abuse in 2012.
Coventry’s children services were criticised for missing opportunities to protect Daniel after four social care assessments and a core assessment missed warning signs for the boy and his siblings.
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, said the advert was certainly likely to have an impact “that will draw attention to Coventry and get people to think hard about working there”.
David N Jones, chair of the association of LSCB chairs, said the campaign was an effective example of how authorities should deal with tragedies.
“I think Coventry is following good practice in being honest about the situation it faces and putting out positive messages for current staff as well as those they want to recruit.”
Jones said Coventry seemed to be using the experience that local authorities had gained over the past 20 years of dealing with tragedies showing the benefit of being honest about what had happened and being upfront about the strategy.
However Ray Jones warned: “There could well be some counter-reaction about using the death of one very identifiable young child as a means of promoting the council as a place to work.”
The campaign has had a more mixed reaction online, particularly amongst Twitter users. Some called it “great” and said the council needed to “encourage the best people to go where the need is greatest”. However, others have been unsure about the choice of “using a murdered innocent in a recruitment campaign”.
Robb however compared this campaign to those used by children’s charities.
“The imagery used in these adverts is emotive but many children’s charities use emotive imagery to get their point across to the public.
“Coventry should be congratulated for this campaign; it is brave, incredibly honest and highlights the complexity of the work that social workers are doing every day to keep children safe,” she added.