Coronation Street portrayal of social worker breaks stereotypes

Coronation Street

Star rating: 4/5

When popular dramas such as soaps tackle certain social issues they call in the experts. Keen to ensure their portrayals ring true, they seek specialist guidance on how to create realistic characters. Often they are commended for their thorough research.

But when it comes to social care professionals – especially social workers – the research seems to go awry. Usually they confirm to every negative stereotype. They are interfering, power-mad, procedure-chanting bureaucrats, hell-bent on parting children from their carers.

So when a well-meaning Claire Peacock called social services to report welfare concerns about neighbour 13-year-old Chesney Brown, I expected the worst. Ches hasn’t had it easy. His mum has in effect abandoned him in favour of a new life in Las Vegas, and left him in the care of the kind but hopeless Kirk.

Together the two spent their days eating takeaways and playing computer games. Claire called “the social” after finding the house was squalid, Chesney was wearing filthy clothes and was missing days at school. Without exception, his friends on the street were appalled by Claire’s actions. Even endlessly reasonable café owner Roy Cropper looked anxious.

But there was a welcome surprise. The social worker who turned up hadn’t had a fashion bypass and didn’t spend her entire visit scribbling into a notebook, looking by turns disapproving and patronising. Instead, she was warm and genuinely concerned that the boy be returned to the care of sister Fizz.

Chesney may have been chuffed with his foster carer but was desperate to get home. Social worker Mel was there to help, reassuring Fizz: “It’s painless, don’t look so nervous” and “Everything is fine It’s clear you care for him deeply. I only wish I could send all of them [children] back to homes like this one”.

Her parting words: “If you need anything, I’m at the end of the phone. That’s what we’re here for.”

So a happy ending. Let’s hope Corrie continues to get it right.

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