Let’s celebrate the unsung social workers who make people’s lives better

Children's Minister Edward Timpson writes about government reforms and how they are supporting social work on World Social Work Day

Children's minister Edward Timpson Picture: Rex/Shutterstock

by Edward Timpson

I have met many inspirational people through my work as minister for vulnerable children and families.

From foster carers who open their homes to vulnerable young people. To families, like my own parents, who care for children who face unimaginable obstacles, to young people who tirelessly care for their loved ones at an impossibly tender age. I also regularly meet children whose lives have been transformed by our social care system.

Behind all of these heartening stories are the social workers who make them a reality. They are there at the most difficult and distressing times, and make decisions every day that improve lives and turn adversity into opportunity.

Yet despite this fantastic work, all too often the public only becomes aware of the important work of social workers when something goes wrong.

Fairer society

As a Government, we’re working hard to make this a country that works for everyone, and social work is at the heart of making ours a fairer society. So we know we need to make social work a career that many more people will aspire to join. That’s why we’re supporting the recruitment and training of social workers so they have the skills they need for this important job, investing over £800 million in bursaries and in programmes such as Frontline and Step Up, helping us to attract bright new talent into the profession. It’s also what lies behind our plans to introduce a new bespoke regulator, Social Work England, designed to raise the status and standards we all want to see.

Yet we know there are challenges – with rising demand for social work services and, as the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s report suggests today, in some places staff shortages, a high turnover and heavy caseloads.

However, our reforms are set up to help continue to change this picture.

Passion and Expertise

The Children and Social Work Bill is going through its final Parliamentary stages and will strengthen protections for the most vulnerable children. Our new What Works Centre for children’s social care will enable social workers from across the country to learn from one another and share best practice.

Just yesterday I announced a further £36 million to fund 11 projects as part of the Innovation Programme. This fund is harnessing the passion and expertise of those who care for children, giving professionals like social workers the freedom to develop new and innovative ways of working that will make a real difference to children’s lives.

We are investing in the professional development of social workers through our National Assessment and Accreditation System. This will introduce a practice-based career pathway, putting the focus on quality practice as well as motivating social workers to invest in activities that will develop social work practice that meets the high standards expected. Many of you reading this will have fed into the consultation we’ve recently held on this and we’re looking at all these responses carefully.

Change on this scale takes time and we’re committed to working with the profession to see it through, so as to make this the best career it can possibly be. We want all young people to be able to go as far as their talents will take them, and part of that is making sure childhood is a happy and safe time in their lives – no matter what their background or where they are growing up. On World Social Work Day let’s celebrate the unsung heroes who are already working today – and every day – to make sure this is the reality for every child.

Edward Timpson is the minster for vulnerable children and families.

2 Responses to Let’s celebrate the unsung social workers who make people’s lives better

  1. Catherine Moody March 23, 2017 at 11:59 pm #

    So why are you continuing to cut funding, £5 billion to date, to local authorities? Why will local authorities be denied any funding at all from central government by 2020? Why is the CSWB being introduced now? From my reading it is setting the ground for the privatisation of children’s services in the same way schools are being privatised through the academisation process. We don’t need another bill especially one with a centralising agenda that will no doubt come into force at the same time local authorities will be left with no government funding? What else can we conclude other than that children’s services will be up for grabs to the private sector?

  2. Rosaline March 27, 2017 at 6:51 am #

    It is sad, as whilst I believe the intentions of government are to be honouabl by, creating improved services, they simply do not undersrand how to do this.

    Regrettably, being so far removed from society, the needsof vulnerable people are not recognised or understood. It is communities who play this role, champion for change, which is why we have social care/work.

    The reality is; local authorities are going to be facing privatisation, as the government hold the view; that local authorities are incapable of managing services for profit. They are not concerned about the experiences of children, their trajectory and the reality of improving outcomes being more difficult.

    Social Workers have to stand strong, work the cases as best as we can with limited resources, give the children/adults the best of us, so we can develop the best of them.