I came into the office this morning to a flurry of unhappy emails, facebook messages and tweets from social workers concerned about the ‘Lola and Lexi’ storyline, shown on Eastenders last week. According to one children’s social worker, the episode, during which teenage mother Lola’s baby Lexi was taken into care by social services, “only served to further damage the already poor reputation of social work services within our communities and placed more children at risk”.
- We understand you’re unhappy with the current storyline concerning Lexi and Lola as you feel it portrays social workers inaccurately. We consulted with the programme’s production team in writing our response and we’d like to assure you our intention is not to portray social workers in a negative light.
- While the audience has seen how much Lola loves Lexi and how responsible she can be with her baby, we were careful to ensure that when the social worker was visiting, she generally saw only more worrying behaviour. Lola was often abrasive when speaking to the social worker and casual – sometimes even flippant – in her responses to the social worker’s suggestions.
- Given that Lola is a young mother, who has been, until this episode, wearing an electronic tag (for criminal damage to the car lot), with a history of getting into trouble with the police, and is known to have had a difficult childhood herself (indeed, three generations of the family have been through the care system), it was clearly important for social services to be involved with the family in order to ensure that Lola could cope with having a baby. In the last few weeks the social worker witnessed a series of unfortunate incidents, including Lexi wearing a tea-towel as a make-shift nappy, reports of Lola not taking Lexi to the mother & baby group, a messy and unclean flat and the discovery that Billy had lied to her about having a job.
- Under the circumstances, we believe the audience will have understood why she had to act to remove Lexi quickly when the allegation of assault is made against Lola by Alexa. There was no suggestion that the social worker’s actions were anything other than a genuine desire to protect Lexi, or that her concerns about Lola were unreasonable, given the picture she and the previous social worker had formed over a substantial period of time. There was certainly no inference that her actions were anything personal against Lola or her family.