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
    profession.
    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.”

    SOCIAL CARE PRACTICE REFRESHER
    Where: Salford University. 
    When: Starts March with hopes to repeat every six
    months.
    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
    funding.
    Contact: Sue Furness, 01942 833484.

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