Directors and government must help improve social work’s image, says MP

A “crisis of confidence” caused partly by poor image is blighting
social work in Scotland, an MP said last week.

Scott Barrie, Labour MSP for Dunfermline West, told delegates at
the annual Association of Directors of Social Work conference in
Dunblane, supported by Community Care, that the government needed
to do more to improve the public’s perception of the profession.

Barrie said that the ADSW had done “good work”, but urged it to
abandon its scattergun approach to improving the profession’s

Instead, he said, efforts should be concentrated on targeting those
who were sympathetic to social work. “Lobby them to lobby
ministers,” he urged.

In a wide-ranging debate, the Scottish executive’s record on social
care in its first four years was criticised. The failure of any of
the mainstream political parties to represent the interests of
older people came in for particular criticism. This led to the
election earlier this month of John Swinburne, the only MSP for the
Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party.

Christine Graham, a Scottish National Party MSP for Borders, said
the election of Swinburne was significant. “We ignore it at our
peril,” she said, adding that many of Scotland’s one million older
people were in poverty because the basic state pension – set by
Westminster – was not a “liveable amount of money”.

Graham also criticised proposals for a national correctional
agency, which would see the merger of prison and probation
services, following the launch of a consultation paper on the issue
last week.

“I have great concerns about a correctional agency in terms of what
it would do to health, social work and so on,” she said. “To lose
the local knowledge that those professionals have about young
people would be very bad news indeed.”

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