Dispatches social worker breaks silence on why she went undercover

Community Care columnist Social Work Tutor asks 'Vicky' about her reasons for taking part in Channel 4's documentary on child protection

Screenshot from the Dispatches investigation.

An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into Birmingham’s children’s services has generated high-profile interest among social workers.

Programme makers sent a social worker, referred to as ‘Vicky’, into the services undercover. This week she spoke to Community Care columnist Social Work Tutor, a child protection social worker, to give an insight into why she took part in the programme…  

Social Work Tutor (SWT): What motivated you to do this after being approached by producers?

‘Vicky’: They were talking about changing the discourse away from social workers being the problem towards looking at environment they work in. They had a whistleblower at a local authority who had been talking to them and they wanted someone to add some substance to what they were saying. I was possibly a little unprepared for the range in feelings about it.

SWT: Why do you think Birmingham was chosen?

‘Vicky’: Birmingham wasn’t chosen, not at first. It was a different LA (local authority).

SWT: Do you know why it was moved?

‘Vicky’: I screwed things up and was unable to get into that LA so we tried Birmingham. So they didn’t start with an agenda to show the worst LA, that was circumstance. They couldn’t go to a top performing LA because which top authority employs agency staff? So it was a little bit of taking what was available.

SWT: Aside from what the producers wanted, what was your aim?

‘Vicky’: I am sick (as many social workers are) of people like Nicky Morgan, who has no knowledge of social work, no experience of social work, being appointed as secretary of state and then saying [effectively] “I’m going to fix social workers”, “I’m going to fix social work” and then pointing at social workers. We all know that is a false discourse. It is unhelpful, inaccurate and laden in party political bullshit.

SWT: How much do you think the issues you helped showcase are indicative of social work on a national level?

‘Vicky’: The doc makers said they want to present a real picture of the difficulties in social work that social workers are having to deal with. I think to a varying degree they are shared across the country. Some local authorities are better resourced with different demographics that enable them to manage better but the story of social work is being starved of resources.

SWT: What change do you hope will come from your work here?

‘Vicky’: I spoke with the film makers a lot about domestic abuse resources and the impact austerity has on women, how it traps them in abusive relationships then we, as a profession abuse them again with threats of removing their children because there are few resources for women and virtually none for abusive men.

I hope that the discourse changes. I hope there is a shift in talk of shit social workers and instead discussion of systems and cultures, within social work and wider society. I am not naive enough to expect to get that, but that’s my hope.

SWT: Do you have any further plans to continue campaigning to fight for issues like this?

‘Vicky’: I don’t have plans at the moment, but I think it’s important that as a profession we take bold steps towards addressing the real issues we face. Part of that does include engaging with the media which is difficult and risky, but we can’t shy away from it. I don’t think it needs to be me that carries that part on though. I won’t be going undercover again.

SWT: What are your views on the people you worked with in Birmingham?

‘Vicky’: They were committed, passionate workers doing a really difficult job in ridiculous circumstances to meet the needs of vulnerable children and their families.

I have the utmost respect for the work they are doing and hope that my part in this programme has not impacted their work or belief in what they are doing. They rock!

SWT: Anything you’d like to say to those who may accuse you of being against social workers by going undercover to expose these issues?

‘Vicky’: It’s an unfounded accusation. I have fought for social work and for social workers my entire social work career. Even whilst in Birmingham I was advocating for my colleagues, many of them recently qualified, who were at times quite badly treated by their then managers.

People might not agree with my reasons or justification for being part of this, but to say I am against social workers is ridiculous.

SWT: Is there anything else you want to add?

‘Vicky’: I would say that I am disappointed in the move to make Birmingham children’s services a trust. That was obviously something that had been on the cards for a long time and I agree with people who raise concerns that it is simply relocating the problem. There needs to be significant investment in social care across the country, not just frontline, but also secondary and tertiary services.

And social work needs to be valued. If we can’t value the people who care for our most vulnerable, how can we value the vulnerable themselves. 40% cuts to budgets of services that are struggling makes no sense.

During the programme, Social Work Tutor asked ‘Vicky’ for her thoughts on how it had turned out. Here are her comments…

Dispatches aren’t making it about the country so far, is my worry. It’s about Birmingham. It needs to be national. There has been no discussion about 40% budget cuts. That has to be part of this. There are things I would have wanted them to do better.

SWT: Like what sort of things?

‘Vicky’: It was too Birmingham-centric and the only mention of resources was me just then. This needed to put responsibility on central government as well as senior management.

SWT: Do you think that can be achieved in the fallout from this?

Vicky’: Well the whole point of doing that was to begin a more accurate discourse.

33 Responses to Dispatches social worker breaks silence on why she went undercover

  1. Anne May 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    This was an appalling piece of trash. It was ill informed and unbalanced. Any journalist worth their salt would have identified the increase in SGOs with Re BS, not channel 4 it was all about saving money. Or the courts role in setting unrealistic timescales and not taking any notice of our assessments and placing children with family members regardless.

    • Nell May 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

      I agree Anne. The rest of the UK has the same problems to varying degrees. I could not believe it when they talked about SGOs being a ‘halfway house’. It is an option for permanence. It is akin to adoption but does not attract the same investment. However, there were many salient messages for senior managers. (thats me – and I do take note).

  2. Sharon May 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

    it is so positive to have the dedication, hard work and commitment of social workers recognised. The system doesn’t work the government cuts are killing public services and being in special measures clearly doesn’t hold the answers so what’s the point of it??

  3. jan butler May 27, 2016 at 2:06 am #

    lets not just focus on

  4. jan butler May 27, 2016 at 2:35 am #

    i praise the hard work and commitment carried out by the social workers of childrens services in Birmingham and the rest of the country.
    We are so fast to point a finger and place blame, when a child is murdered, by the very people who should be providing the love and protection.
    We all know that these wonderful and dedicated people are so overloaded with work, some just have to leave, due to stress, with not been able to deliver the services that they are employed to do?
    Lets also take a deep look at the social workers that are and have been providing better and safer futures for our children at risk, these are the silent angels of this world, not much or very little is said about the amazing work, these people do,.
    Never have any social workers killed a child, lets take a deep look into our services that are provided by our passionate and committed staff who job it is to keep children safe and provide a happy future, they have and are still providing this service, doing this under great pressure and stress, we need to stop blaming these people and look at whats is being provided for these staff do do their job as it should be done.
    I salute these people who do this amazing work ,with passion and commitment.
    Shame on you, Birmingham city council, you appear to have these dedicated staff overloaded with work, do something about this, support your staff, take care of them, just like they take care of the futures of the children.

  5. Sunny birch May 27, 2016 at 8:04 am #

    Why do we commit to doing a job where we are constantly being beaten with a stick, the managers have had to made difficult decisions which all come done to service led and not needs led which the government through budget cuts is responsible for.

  6. Karen May 27, 2016 at 8:11 am #

    When adding up figures of how many agency staff are employed at local authorities when will someone address the number of consultants that are being brought into local authorities to change the system. They are paid a high amount each week, come for a year, make changes and leave and social workers are left to try and continue to support people whilst getting use to another new system. How much of tax payers money is being paid on consultants?

  7. Sarcastic517 May 27, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    I had high expectations for this programme…and was very disappointed. The main narrative in this programme was too focused on the failings in Birmingham and not about a national perspective or without any real balance towards the lack of services and resources. I thought the programme makers hidden agenda to hide the austerity issues and blame the social workers is so far up the government’s ass, that I thought David Cameron was part of the camera crew or something.
    In addition to this, the programme seemed to blame agency workers full stop. Again this is a government issue…crap springs to mind. They should have explored further in this area and balanced the reasons why a lot of agency workers do not want to become perm….it’s not always about money. This programme was irresponsible journalism.
    The editing made it look like all social workers are making decisions that are not evidenced based and I’ll thought out. It definitely did depict some awful practice issues accross the board though which need exploring further, I.e the s47 issues..
    But as I watched more and more the more frustrated. I became when yet again the despatches team rolled out the shining lights of child protection, the nspcc…what a load of Croc..the nspcc..I’ve worked in social work for a long time now and can’t ever recall any nspcc social workers or their higher management doing real social work with children and families..they put out rhetoric about this and that, well why don’t the ‘fluffy and safe’ social workers of the nspcc hold there heads in shame for ditching frontline practice and come back into statutory, why? because you know how hard it is and want an easy life.
    Furthermore, how noble for an undercover worker to betray the trust and confidence of her colleagues and bring social work into disrepute. I think that she should be accountable to the hcpc for breaching the codes of practice.
    This programme will only serve to undermine social workers and the government will come out and say…look we are right let’s get rid of statutory duties across councils in favour of some academy profiteering company or something. Ahhhhhhhhh

    • Carol May 28, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      Absolutely spot on.

      • Mary Harris June 2, 2016 at 8:15 am #

        Totally agree the program served no purpose whatsover

  8. Polly May 27, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    While I agree that the undercover filmed clips “Vicky” gathered for the programme didn’t reflect particularly negatively on the individual social workers, or even maybe the managers involved, I think she has been remarkably naive to think that Dispatches would use this material in the way she intended. The media has been so centrally responsible for reproducing governmental, politically driven discourses about social work without critique or analysis: it was always unlikely they would turn their attention to the wider structural and societal issues within which social work is situated. I fear this programme will not have turned the public gaze on the real culprits for the mess Birmingham and many other LA’s are in; namely political intent to scapegoat social work for the ever mounting problems caused by the ideological driven austerity measures that have served to destroy both the profession and the people we are supposed to be supporting.

    • Chris May 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      I feel no social workers came across other than trying their best in horrendous structural difficulties that they are forced to work with our most vulnerable children and families. I agree that much more could have located the situation in the political climate and the demands that are placed on LA’s with huge central govt cuts. Sadly I hope it does not feed the blinkered narrow minded public perception of social worker which is out there. Sadly given its timing and the recent Govt proposed changes in the Queens Speech last week , I fear social work is going is going to get another kicking by the tabloid press

  9. Sue Jickells May 27, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    The Government set the budget and the performance indicators and timescales for all Assessments and Child protection procedures. This is a typical day in the life of a overstretched social worker; Visiting families, Writing reports and attending Child Protection Conferences and Court, Recording every detail of any conversation had during the day, report writing, assessments, liaising with other Agencies and countless other myriad tasks makes it a difficult and stressful environment to say the very least. High caseloads and performance indicators dominate the working day.
    Our Minister for Health, Mark Drakeford spoke of the dilemma of Social Work when the Community Care Act first took hold way back in 1993, It was entitled ” But who will do the work” it spoke volumes to me at the time. Stop blaming Social Workers for the problems created by The Parent State. Parents and children suffer because of the unequal distribution of Social, Economic iand political power. This is why the Care Indusrty exists and why social work was constructed in the first place.. It’s another Service Industry coping with the inevitable fall out of an unjust and unequal social world. The Parent State is a neglectful Parent, just look at the Outcomes for “Looked After” Children, truly shocking. Starving a industry of resources is at the root of the problem but blaming and judging families is another key factor in the exceptionally poor outcomes for LAC.

  10. Brid Featherstone May 27, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    I am increasingly unclear about the role of Social Work Tutor- part of my confusion stems from the pseudonym – is this person a practitioner or a practice educator or an academic or????
    While i recognise the need for many professionals to adopt pseudonyms on social media, it really is not good practice for those who are able to speak out publicly not to do so openly. if this person has to adopt a pseudonym because of their occupation, that is fine but if they don’t they really need to own their views publicly. Social Work Tutor at the moment seems to have a lot of power but little responsibility! Can he/she and Community Care clarify the situation please?

    • Luke Stevenson
      Luke Stevenson June 1, 2016 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Brid,
      Luke here, here is a link to Social Work Tutor’s FAQ on their website: http://socialworktutor.com/#faq

      I have copied in a relevant section that might help answer your questions:

      Who are you?
      I’m a Child Protection Social Worker who is originally from the North of England. Because I work in frontline Child Protection, I try to keep a low public profile in order to protect both myself and my clients. Given the high-profile nature of my internet presence, I have also received a number of threats due to my support for our profession and publicity I give our good work. Putting myself out there in the open would therefore risk me being able to keep standing up for Social Work, undermine the trust my service users have in me and put my family at risk.

      Kind regards,

      Luke

  11. Paul May 27, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    Child abuse is a national shame in the UK. Look at Nottingham 500 former children`s home resients have come forward to say they have been abused by Social Care Staff. 200 named offenders. One social worker sent to prison.

    Look up operation Daybreak and Xeres. Its no coincidence that Goddard is going to Nottingham.

    I wanted to be a social worker but could not get on the course. I am glad I did no,t as I could not take the crap they get.

    So if you are a social worker reading this. Take pride in what you do. Report when things are covered up

  12. Hilton Dawson May 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    Social worker mixes naïveté with an utter failure of ethics thus contributing to a worthless programme which had its trivialising agenda set from the start.
    Pity help the people she works with and the colleagues in her next team.
    Channel 4 or any other media isn’t going to help our profession.
    So why can’t we help ourselves ?
    I have never understood the reluctance of social workers to complain about completely unacceptable working conditions and hideous professional practice.
    What actually is wrong with taking a reasoned case to management, meeting with Councillors, blowing the whistle openly and honestly when something is so manifestly wrong ?
    When will social workers really call on BASW to battle on our behalf ?
    If we as social workers stand up for our profession, that’s when it will succeed.
    Stay silent and it goes wrong.

  13. Tom Hughes May 27, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    Vicky had such good intentions. Shame the programme was edited by ex public school Tory stooges who want to save Cameron’s hide by sacrificing Social Workers.

  14. Karen May 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    I’d certainly question Vicky’s ethics in conducting this work. I don’t claim she’s ‘against social workers’ but what on earth did she think she would achieve by going undercover? This was not ‘news’ that couldn’t have been gained by asking and honestly, social work is about those who use social work services primarily, not about how rough social workers feel. She’s been incredibly naive and I wouldn’t want to practice social work alongside her. She has betrayed the confidentiality of those she works with and for. There are channels that whistleblowers can take if they feel they need to raise concerns – going to the TV for an ‘undercover exposee’ shows no morale fibre.

  15. Hels May 27, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Hcpc fitness to practice hearing to look forward too Vicky!!! You should be ashamed

  16. mrm May 27, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Totally disappointed. I woke up this morning after having watched the documentary and felt worse about my profession and how much more hated we are in the public eye. Vicky turned her back on the profession, to go undercover and film your colleagues is a disgrace and completely irresponsible. How do you feel social workers are left feeling, best not trust our colleagues, you never know you might be being filmed. Vicki I hope you realise you should be brought before the HCPC and disciplined. Vicki you have just made matters worse for social workers and the profession, to all those hard working, committed, passionate people who want to make a difference. This programme was not a true and accurate reflection of the real issues. Completely poor journalisms and a real kick in the teeth. We need the media to get behind our profession not gives us another huge kicking. We must be the only country in the world where the profession is not respected by the public and unless this changes, nothing else will…..

  17. Notconfidenttoleave May 28, 2016 at 1:53 am #

    I am just about to sit down and watch this show on catch up. However, after reading the comments and overhearing colleagues discuss this in the office today felt for the first time ever after all the columns I have read I wanted to leave a response to this.

    This summer I will be 3 years post qualified. Never in a million years did I ever expect my life and career journey to take this path but it did and I am so proud of that. In this short time I have been “advised ” oh get out of children services high burn out etc oh don’t work for that authority etc and on my journey and with reflection it deeply saddens me.

    In the beginning of my career I came to accept that social work is an undervalued profession but that never put me off. I continue this job as to be honest I love it. I never forget how privileged I am to work with the families I come across. Yes, the majority of the time is not of their choosing but I’m grateful in the end and am fortunate that we have been able to work things out. I acknowledge so often that is not the case.

    What is stirring to me is that I am so fed up of this profession of being undermined, undervalued and no matter who we are or where we work feel that at anytime we would be left hung out to dry. What gets me is that for a profession that strives so much for rights, justice etc that we are quick to turn on our own.

    Sadly, no matter what we do as professionals we will come across tragedies and our work/ input will be scrutinised when questions are raised. Yes, I get that but I feel that it’s about time we all joined together. Agency staff, permanent whatever to say that we know what we signed up to, we connive touch want to work in this profession but now we are going to reclaim this profession as what it is and not what is has been demonised to be.

    Every one hears the bad but there is so much good that we do and I am disheartened that only after nearly 3 years I am considering to leave as I fear how I maybe vilified.

    What other profession can you name invokes that feeling?

    So, apologies for going on but I feel it’s about time we really reclaimed social work and what it really means from root up, anyone with me?

  18. Sharon May 28, 2016 at 8:50 am #

    Seems remarkable that ‘Vicky’ felt she was better placed, alone, to take the ‘bold step’ of engaging with the media via an undercover storyline.

    A hazard with any relationship based on ‘secrecy’, is that trusting the other party to ‘do the right thing’ (morally and ethically), begins from a point of compromise. To take the ‘bold step’ that ‘Vicky’ took and to do so without taking professional or legal advise, was at best naive and at worst born out of an ego-driven approach to decision-making with potentially dire consequences.

    Social work is a collaborative endeavour.

    My advise to’Vicky’ is to contact a professional association and to work in collaboration to achieve constructive dialogue and positive change. The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) is the largest professional association of registered social workers and qualified care managers in the United Kingdom. She could give them a try.

    BASW has a members’ code of ethics that outlines best social work practice and works to support social workers and care managers through education and resources. Headquartered in Birmingham (ironically), BASW has regional offices in various locations across England including Birmingham.

    Social work professionals work within a welfare system, which inherently focuses on working closely with others so that joint mutual, legitimate decisions can be made based on the skill, knowledge and experience of key stakeholders. Openness, trust, transparency, and involvement as ‘active participants’ in any change endeavour is key. We seldom work in isolation. Rather, a fundamental aspect of good social work is about bringing individuals together in order to identify problems, to scope ideas and to achieve ‘shared solutions’ as best possible.

    We also operate within the context of regulatory and supervisory frameworks established in order to support ethical and accountable practice. Our founding principles, our value base recognises that effective analysis of any situation requires appraisal of the whole system and its operating context. Good analysis assumes that we are working with complexity and therefore we make ‘judgements’ based on an appreciation of inherent uncertainty.

    In thinking about how and why judgements and decisions were reached in isolation in Vicky’s case, I wonder how being a lone agency social worker may have affected her journey? What are the implications for how agency social workers construct their social work identity?

    I see a lot of good collective effort to work with and alongside key stakeholders to promote better outcomes for the vulnerable children, adults and families we serve.

    Regrettably, in choosing to take the ‘bold step’ of engaging with the Dispatches storyline alone, ‘Vicky’ boldly narrowed the available perspective to ‘just one’. Therein is a problem and hopefully will be a major source of learning going forward.

  19. Anne tully May 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    vickys intention may have been honourable, but all the programme did was feed into the negatives about social work. there was no analysis of govt cuts, and just sensationalised again the death of a child . was it Birmingham social care or the courts that demanded the SGO assessment be turned round in three weeks for instance. how much did vicky get paid for the undercover operation ? what’s her respons to the CIC comments. I wouldn’t want to work with her. I couldn’t trust her.

  20. Marycom May 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Again too high case loads no resources and the public belief system that Social Workers can march into someone’s home and remove children – they can not and have never had that power! The court process has to be accommodated
    S20 is now considered a dirty piece of legislation because of abuses yet every Social Worker I know is aware of the legal requirements needed to use this legislation safely but are now not allowed too.
    Again blah blah blah about locum social workers as If by the nature of being locum the Social Worker doesn’t care, what rubbish!! social Workers are born not taught

    Cut the caseloads
    Cut the blame culture
    Cut abusing social workers
    Cut hiding the true level of support families don’t have access to because Gouvernment cut costs
    Cut the crap!!

    Social Workers are NOT omnipresent they can only fight child abuse with the weapons they are enabled to use. You wouldn’t Send a soldier to war with a chocolate gun! Make no mistake we as Social workers are fighting a war in child abuse every day!

  21. Jay May 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    “Vicky” is being disingenuous if I’m being charitable, sustaining her fraudulence if I’m not, by claiming she was doing this to highlight the overwhelming and politically driven pressures social workers (and their managers) are grappling with. This wasn’t a Winterbourne View expose, it was a cheap (in all senses of the word) and pathetic programme that revealed nothing of any substance at all. There were quotes from around 3 hardpressed social workers/managers repeating the same things, some interviews with vulnerable families and some pontificating from the NSPCC who should have known better than to jump on the bandwagon (but why am I surprised about that, they have a track record of doing so). Birmingham has been in bad way, yes, but that programme hardly gave an evidence based and accurate picture of the state of social work in the whole authority even less the state of social work in the whole country, as “Vicky” egotistically claimed she was intending. There is some incredible social work being practised, every day, by many, many, people and some courageous children and families engaging with it. This is despite the punishing reduction in public spending, the rise (and hopefully fall) of managerialist culture and the relentless pressures. As for “Vicky” claiming she is standing up for social workers, even she can’t really believe that. How was misleading and manipulating her colleagues standing up for them? If she returns to social work god help the next authority she ends up in, not to mention the families she might work with – would you trust her to behave in an ethical, honest, respectful manner?

  22. Northern poorhouse May 31, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    Vicky I am sorry to say that you are an absolute disgrace to the profession. You may have wanted to do the right thing but you were mislead and you ended up stabbing those poor SWs in the back

  23. Nell June 1, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    To Brid Featherstone: If you research Social Work Tutors Facebook page you will find how many thousands of practitioners are encouraged and supported by that person’s knowledge, insight, experience and wisdom. Many thousands! As a front line worker, SWT does indeed also have a great deal of day to day responsibility and the many thousands of workers who follow SWT feel that they offer a responsible overview of very pertinent issues and perspectives on what we do every day because SWT is doing it NOW. Your post is arrogant and I am assuming that you feel somewhat threatened by a writer who is perhaps not a member of the ‘club’ – between listening to lecturers and professors spout what has already become ‘old news’ or read what SWT has to say, well, I think you can guess. SWT’s popularity isn’t because they tell us what we want to hear – SWT offers challenge too but with a welcome focus on reality. In our profession anonymity can also be a risk management strategy – do you know how many threats are made to social workers in the course of their work? You should find out. If you feel I am hiding behind a pseudonym, my name is Helen Hay and I am a senior manager in front line service.

  24. Hels June 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Clearly doesn’t need a job in social care!!!!

  25. Sammi M June 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Dear god there appears to be a playground full of bitter, spiteful children.

    Vicky was standing up for social workers for goodness sake and she has honestly and genuinly spoken out about what her intentions were and still are.

    I cannot fathom out where most of you are coming from. Perhaps you are so used to being back-slashed by the general publics blind view of what you sadly endure within your work due to poor and hugely mismanaged departments, that it has left you blind to those who really do care enough to put their own job on the line to help you.

    How about you use one of your most important values and reflect on what the programme was really about, then read your own comments back to yourself to hear how ludicrous you sound.

  26. Jack June 1, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    Someone needs to look at Birmingham Adult Social Work Teams. The most disorganised and dangerous authority I have ever worked in.

  27. Ian Kemp June 2, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    The Problem is as I have said repeatedly. The Organisation of social work is not fit for purpose. It has been DE professionalised so that mainly it is a operative job within local authority. There are no social work departments any more. Nicky Morgan . What does she know about social work or indeed education ? She is just a Politician.
    But, as I ve said the problem is much deeper.
    Social work should be moved away from local authority and be funded independently. A proper Social care department should be set up that includes all of the care work old people homes children’s homes Care workers social workers . All together in one department . There should be proper accredited training for every one. Senior managers should be experienced social workers who have to do the job for at least 3 weeks every 6 months so that they can see what is happening at the coal face, and indeed to keep their registration as social workers.
    The nonsense of big impersonal departments with hot desks and row upon row of computers should be replaced with smaller localised departments professionally run with a supportive bureaucracy, and a strong supportive professional association/ union . Social workers could be released from excessive paper work/ bureaucracy, to do what social work is supposed to be about. That is contact with the reason for their existence. Client’s. Focusing on human relationships understanding what is exactly going on . Having the resources and support to be able to do the job.
    The social worker skills could develop, instead of ossify and die. That is not to say that there are not some absolutely brilliant social workers around .I have met many in my 43 years as a social worker senior, team manager.
    Social work also needs a strong voice. A proper professional association to articulate/ explain what the job is a bout. There needs to be a proper intellectual base / research .
    When I started social work as a graduate who had worked in industry in Birmingham 43 years ago thing were very different. It was a decent respected job . There was a lot of support, a strong union . The bureaucracy was quite small and well managed not over managed. Today senior managers in the local Gov Bureaucracy. Have not been near a client for years , some are not even social workers. I ask what sort of profession is that ? Senior people in any respected profession work with the reason for their existence. eg Consultant Doctors, Lawyers accountants and so on . Senior local Gov Officers for that is what they are do not ever go near a client. They simply manage the bureaucracy. They are paid a lot of money to do just that.
    The present fragmented social work job . It is difficult to really call it a profession as they are really just Local authority employees who are dictated by the local gov bureaucracy/ Politicians, whose main object appears to be to protect their job / back and generally will via the media blame social workers or care staff. for the latest tragedy.
    There is no explanation or serious analyses about the context of the job and its over loaded bureaucracy and the structural / political nature of social problems. Lessons will be learned they say. How often do we hear that ? . Another serious case review chaired often by somebody who has not done the job for years if at tall;
    Whatever the motivations of the Despatch’s program and the social worker involved , it was to say the least superficial pointless as it did not focus on what was really happening and why.
    At present we have a huge bureaucracy that is local authority with layer upon layer of manager paid a lot of money to look at a social workers And manage the overloaded system .. Manageralism is not the answer to social problems or indeed social work. It is very costly and just delivers a very marginal fragmented service to client’s and people in need.
    The result over years of what I call de professionalization of social work is that the influence and status for want of a better word of social work is marginal . They are easy to scapegoat .They have virtually no protection from their departments let alone ignorant Politicians and media.
    Finally will any of our politicians dare to do anything radical about social work ? I think not . there is not the will to do anything except anther pointless inquiry. In reality any radical reorganisation of social work along the lines I have suggested above would be to costly and too much for our neo liberal gov . But you know, in the long run it would be more cost effective and much more professional than what we have now.

  28. ian kemp June 2, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Community care > Hope you found my comment constructive
    cheers Ian Kemp