Letters: Parental mental health, forced marriage, social work and personalisation, End Child Poverty rally

I won’t prioritise paperwork

I would like to comment on changes that have been made to children services computer system to connect to the national system.
The documents that social workers have to fill in have tripled in size, are difficult to fill in and are time-consuming.
I feel as if I am not a social worker but have become a clerk who is employed to provide statistical information needed for local authorities to make their system look good.
Is it just me or have local authorities now lost touch with what the role of social work really is?
I am employed to work with people and refuse to prioritise paperwork before human beings.
Margaret Austen, social worker, Chatham, Kent

Parental mental health: whose remit?

I wondered whether you debated in which section of the magazine to put “Ethnic minority parents with mental health problems” (11 September, www.communitycare.co.uk/109338)?
In Leicestershire we currently have a multi-agency initiative to highlight good practice in working with parents with mental health problems. One question we have come across is which sector should take the initiative to improving outcomes for families where parents have mental health issues. Your article comes under “children’s services”.
It can be argued that parenting is an adult role, in the same way that “employment” or “therapy” is likely to be see as an adult concern. I see adult mental health services beginning to see parenting as their concern.
However, current momentum for progress does seem to lie within children’s services.
Our work has focused on defining how a collaborative process with clear roles, can produce good outcomes for families. It has been rewarding because ultimately the needs of all family members are bound together.
Andrew Starr, Primary mental health worker, CAMHS, Leicester

Support rally to end UK child poverty

The largest ever rally to end child poverty is being held in Trafalgar Square on 4 October to show the government that we are no longer prepared to tolerate children failing school or risk dying from poor health because of their social circumstances.
It seems unbelievable to me that the UK has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Europe, despite being the fifth richest nation. Now is a crucial time to show your support to end child poverty. One in three children in the UK are living in poverty, we have to change this.
For more information about either signing the online pledge of support, or if you’d like to visit London and be part of a historic event to end child poverty, just visit www.endchildpoverty.org.uk
Chris Parker, TV Presenter and NSPCC and Barnardo’s supporter

Learning disabilities and forced marriage

The Judith Trust recently held a seminar on the forced marriages of people with learning disabilities (“Marriages of convenience”, 28 August www.communitycare.co.uk/109193). The discussion revealed it is not clear what the best outcome might be when forced marriages are discovered to have taken place – sometimes between a person with learning disabilities and a spouse who was unaware of the disability – a “double forced marriage”.
Action to annul the marriage on grounds of insufficient mental capacity to consent would mean splitting the family especially problematic when there are children. Shame and dishonour is brought upon their families, in turn exposing one or both spouses to possible exclusion from their family and community networks.
Action is needed to provide practitioners with guidance on best practice and this requires the gathering of case studies. Senior police officers have requested case studies so that they might test their procedures against them. The Judith Trust is working to collect such evidence and is keen to hear from people who may be able to assist.
Joanna Brunt, Policy manager, The Judith Trust

Depends what you call ‘social work’

Peter Beresford (The Big Picture, 4 September, www.communitycare.co.uk/berep) discusses the tension between the social work profession and personalisation.
He says social work is “concerned with supporting people’s independence and self-determination through the social approach that centrally underpins it”.
This definition is too wide. It should, in fact, be applied to the whole of social care, not just social work. By taking such a wide view of social work, he is reinforcing the view that social work is the pre-eminent profession within social care and should retain its dominant position.
Surely it’s time for social work to accept it has particular skills and has a particular contribution to make to the social care movement. It needs to be a practical menu and add value for those service users who require such supports.
It may well be that in order to move to this position, the profession needs to come to terms with the reality that the era of community care has been an inglorious episode in social work’s history.
It has been the dominant profession within assessment and care management, and the latter has proven to be a failure in delivering the original vision of the community care reforms of tailor-made supports. The commonly held view is that while that much is agreed, it is the system within which care management has been delivered that is to blame, not the social work profession.
Maybe that is too easy and glib, maybe the contribution of the profession is also a key factor which it needs to take on board if it is to really move on.
Colin Slasberg, Harlow, Essex

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