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Social work & journalists: sometimes it’s good to talk

Socialworkers are understandably wary of talking to journalists. And rightly so, givena lot of the press pack too often portrays the profession as nothing more than a group of monstrouschild snatchers, with talesof ‘care failings’ drowning out any positive social work stories.


Image via Flickr (Infrogmation)

Butthere are exceptions, and today I came across an interesting piecefrom a local paper in the American town of Reading (which bizarrely is also in a county named Berkshire) that shows how, sometimes,social workers and journalists can join forces to ensure people get the helpthey need.

Inthe short article, titled ‘Social worker goes theextra mile’ Reading Eagle reporter Mike Urban (a suitably Americanname that sounds like he has jumped straight out of a cop show) tells of how he received a call from ateenage domestic violence victim who was in distress. She had been searchingfor help on the web and came across a story Urban had written on teenage mumsso had called him for help. 


‘Icalled Amariles Rivera, director of the Baby University of the YMCA of Reading& Berks County, who offered me a lot of good advice and resources to passalong to the girl. But Rivera went beyond that. She told me to give the girlnot just her office number but her personal cellphone number in case the girlneeded advice on the weekend or after-hours.’

‘Rivera could have directed me elsewhere, explaining that the girl wasn’t aclient, or even local, but instead did what social workers often do. She helpedsomeone who needed it.

Thestory isn’t remarkable because of the social worker’s intervention – as Urbannotes going the extra mile is what a lot of ‘social workers do’ every day – but allcredit to him for publicising it.

The fact that a service user in need of helpeventually found someone they could call thanks to a local paper publicising work with teenage mothers, also shows the value in local services promoting their work and suggests that, just sometimes, whena journalist rings, it can be good to talk.

About Andy McNicoll

Andy is community editor at Community Care, with a focus on reporting on mental health. He has previously worked for titles focusing on the NHS and substance misuse sectors. You can contact him at

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