Campaign aims to dispel social work’s negative image

The Department of Health is to launch a major three-year
recruitment campaign for social workers at the national social
services conference in Harrogate this October.

Chief inspector of social services Denise Platt announced the
£2 million initiative after research by the Local Government
Association suggested 63 per cent of local authorities were
struggling to recruit social workers.

“The research suggested the most important factor in deterring
people from entering social work was the intensely negative image
that surrounds the profession,” Platt said. “This negative image is
accompanied by an almost total lack of knowledge among the public
about what social workers really do.”

The campaign will include national press, billboards and radio
coverage, with a special focus on London and the south east where
recruitment problems are particularly acute. It will be accompanied
by information booklets explaining what social work is and how to
embark on a career in the profession. A separate booklet will be
available on opportunities in the wider social care field.

In addition, the government will set up an information line for
potential recruits plus a website with details of the campaign and
links to social care organisations.

Association of Directors of Social Services senior
vice-president Mike Leadbetter welcomed the move: “We have been
campaigning for some time for recruitment problems in social care
to be highlighted in the way nursing and teaching have.”

The campaign follows health minister John Hutton’s pledge in
March to support the joint Community Care and LGA You Can
Make a Difference campaign to raise awareness about the good work
done by social care staff.

Speaking at the launch of You Can Make a Difference, Hutton said
the move was a positive beginning, but warned it would take an
ongoing commitment to turn things around (News, page 3, 22

Head of social affairs at the LGA John Ransford said he was
“very optimistic” about the DoH’s campaign. He added that the
Community Care and LGA campaign worked to raise the profile of the
social care profession, but now it was necessary for the government
to throw its weight behind fresh efforts.

“Social care staff are low paid, there is a recruitment crisis,
particularly in the south east where the cost of property and
living expenses are high,” Ransford said. “But the government
recognises this is a big issue and is prepared to do something
about it.”

But a letter from Platt to all social services directors in
England highlighting the campaign makes no mention of any extra
cash for social work. This contrasts with recent recruitment drives
for nurses and teachers which used offers of extra money to attract

But according to Ransford: “The most important thing is to
increase the respect of workers and the public understanding of
what people working in social care do. If there is a more positive
image of the profession, then more people will come forward.”

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government’s recruitment campaign will work?Are pay rises
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