Wigan employee devises a way back for ‘lapsed’ social workers

Brenda Read wants to return to practising social work but fears
she no longer has the confidence, skills and knowledge, writes
Derren Hayes.

Read was a child protection social worker in her homeland,
Zimbabwe, for two years in the early 1980s. But then she moved to
the UK to work as an administrator. Now she is unsure whether
employers will be interested after her 20-year absence from the
But the launch of a course for lapsed social workers suggests
employers could well be interested.

The course, the brainchild of Sue Furness, staff development
officer at Wigan Council, will be a semi-intensive 10-day tour of
the latest developments in children’s, adults, mental health,
learning difficulties and physical disabilities policy, practice
and law. It has the backing of 11 social services departments in
the North West.

Furness set up the course at Salford University after numerous
enquiries from former social workers.

Furness said: “Lack of confidence and the enormous changes in
social care put people off applying for jobs, but the fundamentals
of practice haven’t changed.”

She believes Read, and others like her, could help solve the staff
shortage because “compared with training someone from scratch you
could have a really good result”.

Read says: “I never left social work because of anything I was
unhappy with. I’ve always missed the direct involvement with people
and one-to-one relationships.

“I just need to gain some confidence so I will feel better prepared
when going to interviews.”

Where: Salford University. 
When: Starts March with hopes to repeat every six
How long: 10 days (one week full time including
shadow day plus 10 half-day sessions in evenings).
How much: Free – the 10 social services
departments of Greater Manchester and Cheshire Council are
Contact: Sue Furness, 01942 833484.

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