Over 600 former social workers sign up for return to practice during coronavirus crisis

Matching tool for employers and practitioners who have recently left the register attracts 616 expressions of interest in first week

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An online tool that enables former social workers to match their skills with the needs of employers during the coronavirus pandemic has attracted over 600 expressions of interest during its first week.

In the seven days since its launch on 2 April, 616 practitioners who have left the profession since 2018 submitted their details to Social Work Together, a joint project between Social Work England and the Local Government Assocation (LGA).

The initiative, which is also backed by the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Education, followed the creation of a temporary register of about 8,000 people who have deregistered since March 2018.

It follows similar moves by health services to enable retired staff to return to roles where they can help tackle the UK’s coronavirus epidemic.

Ex-social workers appear to be continuing to sign up rapidly via a portal hosted on the LGA’s website, with the total number of applicants rising by 130 between 7 and 8 April.

‘Huge effort’ to tackle coronavirus pressures

Colum Conway, chief executive of Social Work England, said: “We’ve been really encouraged by the number of social workers ready to return to essential roles in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

According to Social Work England, the expressions of interest have come from former social workers with a broad range of experience, across adult social care, child and family social work, mental health and other areas.

A spokesperson for the regulator said it was “too early” to share data around where expressions of interest had come from regionally, or where the greatest areas of need for returning staff are.

It is due to make region-specific appeals for ex-practitioners’ expressions of interest over the coming days, while the LGA is working directly with councils and other employers in order to better understand their needs.

“This is a huge effort from all involved and our partners continue to work with employers to understand their workforce needs across children’s and adults’ services,” Conway said. “As well as those on our temporary register, we also welcome expressions of interest from registered social workers who are currently not working or based in another sector to support individuals and local communities at a time of great need.”

He added: “We thank all social workers working tirelessly in response to this unprecedented situation.”

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